It's only been a little over a month since Labor Day, and yet it feels like summer was a whole world away. And for some New Yorkers, the re-entry to city life can best be described as, well, difficult. But what's the antidote? Fantasizing about your summer vacation helps, especially if the holidays brought you to a place completely different from the city, someplace more relaxed, less stressful, and, yes, easier. Stuck in the subway? Scrolling through your beach and hiking photos can immediately place you back in the middle of your break. (Consider it a form of meditation.) But if it hurts too much to look at your vacation pics, or you simply feel like the city that never sleeps has left you feeling too often like a zombie, maybe it's time to leave altogether? But where to?
The masterminds behind a marketing campaign we wrote about back in July have an answer: Maine. As Ed McKersie, the president of the recruiting and staffing firm Pro Search who helped conceived the Live and Work in Maine campaign says, the so-called Pine Tree State has many jobs, and can offer New Yorkers one thing many city residents say they struggle to achieve: a work-life balance.
"My pitch to New Yorkers is: You’ll get about three hours of your life back if you move here," he says. Portland, Maine, where we interviewed him for this podcast back in August, may be especially suited to NYC expats, thanks to its walkable scale and vibrant cultural and dining scene. "We’re an incredible foodie town, we’ve got an incredibly young vibe here, there’s no doubt about it," he says. "There are different distinct neighborhoods that continue to grow. There are food trucks up by the beach every Sunday so it’s beautiful. The other thing that people underestimate about Portland is the quality of the culture. We’ve got a great orchestra, Merill Auditorium, [Editor's note: It's a 1900-seat auditorium that hosts everything from theatre to concerts], world class ballet, [and more].”
Per the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Portland, Maine has an unemployment rate of 2.7 percent as of August 2016; the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area, by contrast, is at 5.2 percent. Median rent, per Trulia, is $2000/month. (Meanwhile, last August, we reported that median rents in Manhattan and Brooklyn were at $3399 and $2859 respectively.) Rents, though not pennies to the dollar as one may hope moving to New England, are still lower than in NYC: Portland proper has an average rent of $1387/month, according to Rent Jungle; one-bedrooms average $1124/month, and two-bedrooms, $1492. If you'd rather own than rent, Trulia pegs the average sales price in Portland, Maine at $395,961—so cheaper, but not super cheap, but doable for New Yorkers who want to start building equity.
Plenty of celebrities are enamored of Maine. Aside from its most famous resident, Stephen King (who perhaps hasn't done the tourism board any favors by setting so many of his terrifying tales there), Susan Sarandon, Jonathan Lethem, Martha Stewart, and George and Barbara Bush all have planted roots in the state.
Still, it's a big jump from Manhattan to Maine—and vice versa: For this episode, we met with one woman who has been considering a move to Maine with her family. We also spoke to siblings who grew up in a small town 45 minutes south of Portland and are now in the city, and to a former New Yorker who has lived all over the city—most recently in East Harlem—and who decided last spring to actually make the big move. What has the adjustment been like both ways? And is Maine—especially Portland—truly a viable alternative to city living? Check out the podcast and find out.
This podcast was produced by Jenny Falcon and Jhoanna Robledo; additional thanks to Alanna Schubach, who wrote the original article on Live and Work in Maine and interviewed the featured former Maine-ers for this podcast, and to our guests.
Have a great tale about navigating NYC's maze of a real estate market? Or about life in this sometimes-frustrating-but-always-fascinating city? Comment on this post or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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