Affordable Living

The wonderful irony about southern Maine is that while it is a place so many people want to come to -– it's less expensive to live here than in a lot of other “desirable” locales.

Housing is plentiful, affordable and best of all, diverse.

The spectrum of choices is amazing. Because this area is steeped in early American history, it's not uncommon to find a house dating back to the early 1700s – even the late 1600s – faithfully restored and in move-in condition.

Students of architecture come here to admire the Colonial Capes, the Victorians, the Greek Revivals, the Federal homes. Homes made with original bricks or with hand-hewn beams are not uncommon. Huge shingle- style summer “cottages” built at the turn of the 20th century are common at the beaches.

There are many other choices as well. Cozy “New Englanders” from the early 1900s, contemporary homes, refurbished summer cottages, condominiums -- it's the buyers' choice. Land is still plentiful. Properties along the coast are understandably more expensive – but move inland 15 miles or so and housing is affordable even for working families and single-income households. For example: The median price of a home in Boston in 2010 was $339,000. In Sanford: it is $179,000. And the ocean is just 20 minutes away.

Because this part of Maine is more populated than the more remote central and northern sections, daily living expenses are also reasonable. Competitive businesses keep the costs of services and goods in line. Some may think that heating costs are a huge factor, but in fact, southern Maine is much warmer than its northern region. (The average temperature in Sanford in December is about 28 degrees; in Caribou, it is 15!) Also, when it comes to energy costs, heating bills are tempered by the fact we do not need to run the a/c continually. We enjoy hot summer days, followed by cool evenings.

The cost of living here is significantly less than the cost of living in urban and suburban areas of the Northeast, yet we have comparable amenities and choices. And, some would say, we actually have more.