What to Know Before Moving to Portland

by Leslie Renico
Get ready for plenty of lobster in Portland.

Get ready for plenty of lobster in Portland.

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Portland is the largest city in Maine. Home to the state's largest port and relatively close to Boston, Portland is a regional hub for a number of service industries, hosting the Maine operations for such financial and insurance service groups as Key Bank, Fidelity Investments and Unum Life Insurance Company of America. L.L. Bean, the outdoor outfitter, is just down the road in Freeport. The 2010 unemployment level of 6.3 percent is lower than the state and national averages, which can mean that the employment market is more promising there than in other cities.

School System

Portland Public Schools is a district that faces many of the same challenges as other urban school districts across the country. One experiment that the district has tried is the opening of three "expeditionary learning" high schools, where students get out of the building and encounter real-world problems and come up with solutions. Casco Bay High School, one of those campuses, was recognized as a "promising school" by the International Center for Leadership in Education in the spring of 2011. Overall, the district has 11 elementary schools, three middle schools and four high schools, one devoted to arts and technology, and the other three to expeditionary learning. Three private schools are also available.

Transportation

Portland is close to the major arteries of Interstate 95 (the Maine Turnpike), Interstate 295 and U.S. Route 1. Bus service and Amtrak connect riders to Boston's North and South stations, and to Logan International Airport. The city of Portland has two different bus systems: the METRO, a traditional route-driven bus system ; and the Portland Explorer, which follows a set route around different transportation hubs.

Climate

Because Portland is in Maine, you would be correct to expect cold winters. The average high temperature in January, for example, is 31 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the summers do get warm, with average highs in the 70s from June through August. Its location on the sea means that you'll experience some humidity, particularly during spring, autumn and winter. Snow and rain are common during those seasons.

Utilities -- Electric and Gas

Central Maine Power provides electricity to residences and businesses in Portland. Other providers include Portland General Electric and Competitive Energy Services. The largest natural gas provider is Unitil, which began replacing more than 100 miles of original cast-iron pipe with plastic pipe in April 2011. This is part of a modernization project that will cost more than $60 million and will conclude in 2025.

Photo Credits

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