Moving to a new city can be incredibly exciting, but it might also be a little scary. Along with figuring out how to get settled in to a new job, you also have to choose where you want to live. And factors like a city’s cost of living, location and the job market all go into finding that perfect, new hometown.

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Traditional urban centers like New York City and Los Angeles are great, but the cost of living is skyrocketing in those cities, according to the L.A. Weekly and That can make it tough to save money or make the most out of your paycheck. These rising costs have led to a larger amount of people wanting to move to smaller, less expensive urban areas. More people are flocking to mid-sized cities that have lower rents and cheaper activities, according to — while still having plenty of things to do. One of these booming little cities: Portland, Maine.

This New England mecca is attracting young people looking for beauty, outdoor adventure and a social atmosphere — with prices that won’t eat up their entire salary. And with a history dating back to the mid-18th century, award-winning restaurants, tons of culture and beautiful water views, Portland is one of the coolest cities in America to move to.

Is it right for you? Our guide breaks down Portland with a newcomer’s needs in mind.

The Job Market

Portland has a variety of industries and career options. Whether you want to explore health care, finance or the service industry, you can find it in Portland. The unemployment rate in Portland is just 2.6, while the median household income is $64,044, according to Forbes, which is above the national average reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.

These statistics, combined with Portland’s thriving tourism industry, show a city that is growing — with more opportunities popping up every day. The greater Portland–South Portland metro area has held more than half of the economic growth for the state since 2010, says MaineBiz. The result is a city that hopes to draw in more people to take jobs. This can lead to attractive offers in a city with a higher-than-average median salary and low unemployment rate.

Where To Live

Cost of living is often a factor when choosing where to move. This is especially true with housing. Your rent or mortgage can eat up a large amount of your salary — which can lead to a less-than-ideal overall cost of living. You generally want to spend no more than 30 percent of your gross income on rent, or at least that’s a good place to start, says The Huffington Post. That can be hard to do in many big American cities. In fact, approximately 12 million Americans are dropping more than 50 percent of their paychecks into housing every month, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In Portland, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment (according to Rent Jungle) is $1,139 a month. Comparatively, nearby Boston has an average rent of $2,703, New York is $2,935, and San Francisco tops it out at $3,295.

In terms of neighborhoods, popular places to live include either Old Port or the Arts District downtown. It’s historically preserved (quaint cobblestone streets and all!) while at the same time modern and bustling — with fantastic shops, galleries, restaurants and bars. And many of these are in charming, converted-warehouse spaces. Architecturally speaking, it’s gorgeous with a good amount of rentals available. And you’re steps away from the adjacent wharf, keeping you connected to the sea air of the port town’s roots.

Another great option is Munjoy Hill. This vibrant neighborhood is right on the water and has an abundance of indie coffee shops, access to hiking and nature, and the mixed feel of older houses with new condos. The neighborhood is constantly growing and changing, and an influx of residents has it brimming over with cool things to do.

How To Get Around

For many, long commutes to work can make a fantastic city less than desirable. According to Newsweek, the average commute in Los Angeles is 53.6 minutes, and Washington, D.C., has even longer commuting times, hitting a whopping 60.4 minutes on average. In contrast, Portland residents have an average commute of just 24.7 minutes, which can be a draw. And with public transportation options and a beautiful waterfront city that inspires you to bike more, there are options to take your car less often. However, with cold, snowy winters, commuting by car is still often necessary.

Where To Eat

A huge bonus to living in Portland can be found in its plethora of dining options. From restaurants featuring award-winning chefs to great coffee shops to some of the best seafood in the country, the city’s food game is on point. However, eating out doesn’t come cheap. And for many people, affordable food options are a must when choosing a city to live in.

Portland is known for its excellent, locally sourced ingredients and easy access to fresh seafood, and that can lead to cooking more at home. There are also several farmers markets in the city, including one established in 1768 — making it one of the oldest, most celebrated farmers markets in the country.

In general though, food costs are slightly higher than the national average, which is one thing to consider when considering Portland as home.

Things To Do

Many folks find Portland to be a tight-knit community with a thriving food and nightlife scene. But when trying to save money, going out can suck up a large amount of your disposable income. Luckily, Portland has a large number of affordable or free activities. From the popular hiking/running loop the Back Cove trail — which stretches along the water — to the Eastern Promenade (a 68-acre park right at the tip of the peninsula with sweeping views of the bay), there are tons of outdoor activities and picturesque locations to picnic, play games and enjoy the water. Or you can head out to the Casco Bay Islands. Only a few minutes’ ferry ride can bring you straight to ample beaches, lush forests and rocky shorelines to explore — as well as coffee shops, restaurants and galleries.

Besides having nature at your fingertips, another draw to living in Portland is its commitment to preservation. There are so many majestic old homes to see and just taking a walk through the historic neighborhoods can be a treat. Some of these homes have been turned into great museums, so you can visit and admire the stained glass windows, wood paneling and ornate crown molding and draperies. History lovers will find plenty of activities to enjoy in the city.

Portland also has quite a bit of art. If you’re looking for more culture, you can go to Portland’s First Friday Art Walks. On the first Friday of every month, museums and galleries stay open late serving drinks and snacks. It’s the state’s largest free monthly art event and is the perfect (affordable!) night on the town.

So Should You Move to Portland, Maine?

While the answer is different for everyone based on their chosen career, lifestyle and preferences, Portland could be a wonderful option. With nature, a great nightlife and lower cost of living compared to larger cities, more people are embracing its artsy, small-town New England vibe. And as the bustling mid-size city grows, it’s increasingly being known less as the “other” Portland and more as an attractive option for creatives and other professionals looking to save money without sacrificing an awesome place to live. Maine’s Portland may be smaller, but it could be exactly what many people are looking for in a new hometown.

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