Pursuit of Truthiness

my gut tells me I know economics

Thinking of Living in Bangor?

with 30 comments

Its true, I’ve lived here almost my whole life, but I feel like I’m only now getting a sense of what the city is really like. I thought I’d share my thoughts with those who might be considering coming here or, more likely, going away.

Bangor is the smallest city I’ve ever seen; but a city it is. Despite having a population of barely 30,000, it is the economic and cultural center of quite a large region. It’s got fast-growing suburbs, more shopping and services than anything else within 3 hours, the only major newspaper and television stations in the northern 2/3 of the state.

Don’t let that assessment fool you; northern Maine is a pretty easy region to dominate, and there really isn’t all that much to do in the city itself. We get as many big-name concerts in a year as Tulsa does in a week, or Boston does on a Monday afternoon, to give just one illustration.

So who is Bangor good for?

I’d say its best as a place to grow up / raise children. It’s very safe; in the average year nobody even gets murdered. I knew our schools were pretty good; but after talking to a lot of people who went to public schools elsewhere, they sound pretty darn amazing. Finally, there’s no shortage of cool parks.

Anyone else?

…..there really aren’t many other demographics I’d recommend it to, except for Stephen King fans. He lives here in town, and if you ask any group of people who’ve lived here a while, you’re sure to get some stories about things he’s done. If you’ve got the money, you can even be his neighbor; if you don’t, you’ll see him just as much if you get a job at the cinema, Borders, or the Hammond St. Corner Store.


I’m now realizing that this is a strong point. It’s a great place for exploring the great northern woods, where even lower-middle-class people can be huge landowners. It’s just an hour from Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park; I’ve been going there my whole life, but it still seems as cool as ever. 4 hours to Boston; 5 to Quebec City; 5 to Nova Scotia by boat, though I suspect few people will find that last as cool as I do; 2 hours to the best skiing east of the Rockies. I think that most people who move here like the fact that major cities are a safe distance away.

Property is very cheap compared to most American cities. A decent house in a nice neighborhood runs about $150,000; a huge, well-maintained Victorian in Mr. King’s neighborhood shouldn’t be much over half a million.

Of course, the reason things are so cheap has a lot to do with:

What Sucks About Bangor

Just about anyone will tell you the same two things here. Its the winter and the economy.

One sample from what is quite a large genre of local humor:

They say there are four seasons in Maine: almost winter, winter, still winter, and construction.

It’s true that it’s winter for about 6 months out of the year here. Which isn’t a problem at all if your favorite activities are snowmobiling and shoveling snow.

I didn’t fully realize how depressed our local economy is until I spent some time in other states. You don’t come to Maine to make money; you come if you already have it or don’t care that you never will. We’ve been trying to get rid of all high-paying jobs here; as soon as we can convince ourselves that we don’t *really* need doctors, we can complete the victory.

Stephen King fanatics and out-doorsy doctors with young children, I’ve found a great place for you. For everyone else… well, all my audience is really in the first category, aren’t they?


Written by James Bailey

July 3, 2007 at 9:31 pm

Posted in Bangor, Stephen King

30 Responses

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  1. Bangor is a really great place, I like it a lot. If my chosen career path ever enabled me to live here, I’d be glad to, yet I doubt it will.

    Anyways I enjoyed reading your blog and I will continue to read in the future and post replies… while the Quartet may rest in peace, I’m glad to see your wisdom still has a home on the web


    July 4, 2007 at 1:29 am

    • Propaganda! Do the math people!


      December 17, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    • I lost my chidren to the state of maine myself,i i have hatred for the state myself.

      lonnie shover

      March 6, 2014 at 3:57 pm

      • I am one of your 4 sons. I live in north Carolina now. It would be great to contact you or you could try to contact me at 7049297527 and ask for Paul Goldman.


        March 14, 2014 at 9:24 pm

  2. Great essay. I’m sharpening my literary knives on the forge of Dan Ratherisms, preparing my own take on my home region. Hail Texas!


    July 7, 2007 at 4:12 pm

  3. I agree with you about being able to live in Bangor, and thank you for feeding my ego. Good to hear from you, John.

    Really looking forward to a Texas essay, Micah.


    July 9, 2007 at 8:54 pm

  4. P.S.,
    if you happen to read this again John,
    where the crap are you this summer? Coming to Bangor at all? Any means of contact utilizing modern technologies like the telegraph?


    July 9, 2007 at 9:19 pm

  5. I’m moving to Bangor with my family in August. Any recommendations of good kid friendly neighborhoods?

    Any advice is greatly appreciated!


    April 2, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    • Dear Megan,

      Get ready to lower your standards if you’re moving to Bangor Maine.


      January 12, 2010 at 9:53 pm

  6. I found living in Bangor almost perfect. I like the outdoors, and there are great hills for hiking, bogs for birding, ponds for kayaking, and great air, (when the wind isn’t off the mill.)

    I hated the racism. But the young people were so open, intelligent, and good that they provided hope…if they’re not driven out by the nasties who seem to own the town.

    And I found almost NO crime on the streets. As a flatlander, however, I did find an outrageous amount of crime in the yellow pages. (I’ve never been ripped off by for so much by so many in my life! But they can smell an outsider a mile away. So beware, gullible older women. Xenophobia and misogyny combine to make it unsafe for old ladies from away)

    Do the world and Bangor a favor, and help clean it up, because it’s a beautiful place. But there are certain Bangorites who really don’t deserve Bangor.


    (Steve Butterfield for Congress!) Pass the word.


    April 29, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    • Almost no crime on the streets??? What Bangor have you been living in. I do agree about the racism and about most the local businesses ripping people off. The whole area is desperate for your money and the law in that area protects these crooked businesses. Check out that Bangor Care Care on Facebook and what thousands of unhappy customers are saying. I think the page is called “annoying care care commercials” or something like that.


      December 17, 2010 at 7:33 pm

      • im looking for a place to live bangor was 1st on my list… it see
        med like the neighbor hood ive been looking for


        November 5, 2013 at 8:41 pm

  7. I don’t think Bangor is all that great or safe despite the propoganda above. Srue the murder rate is low but people here are rather fake/nice and can actually be very mean. Statisics show that the suicide rate in Maine is actually higher than the national average. I found that the quality of services in Bangor Maine sucks. And to tell you the truth King is a rather over rated writer who covets (within the law) other peoples stories to write is own. Anyway, UMaine Orono right next to Bangor is filled with the bring full of alcoholics and people who smoke too much pot. Maine also has a higher than national average of certain drug abuses, depression, and has a low rating on the treatment of such issues. Sure there is less murder but there is nothing here. Bangor doesn’t resemble a city so much as a very large town. House after house (run down moldy old buildings) and pooryly renovated creapy apartments. During the winter the sidewalks are glare ice because Bangors public works hasn’t hurd of something called “sand”. 8 times out of 10 when ever I’ve had a doctors or clinical appointment in Bangor there is some mix up on paper work, scheduling, or simply a low quality of service. I could write an objective list 10 miles long on why I think Bangor Maine sucks. Not to mention the non existant down town area in wich 1/2 the stores are closed or in the process of closing, or are simply way over priced. The plays I saw at the Penobscot theater were laughable at best due to the horrific acting. Though one play I saw one actor was excellant – but later I found out he was hired to come here from Mass. ha ha All people do in Bangor is smoke pot, drink too much alcohol, do drugs, and over eat. The place is a culural void. Oh and by the way it is a very pedestrian unfriendly place in the winter so be preparied to be a shut in if you don’t own a car.


    January 12, 2010 at 9:52 pm

  8. beautiful place….watch out for crooked realtors


    October 25, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    • ha ha so true in Maine. That Bangor in particular area is full over overpriced slums or places that have been so overly renovated it’s a disaster. Or just plain poorly renovated. People want more for real estate than it’s worth. I know Portland is bad too but at least there is a little more culture down there and easy easier to get out of state to visit other states. But Bangor is way out of the way. Anyway whether you are renting or buying it’s terrible in Bangor. I knew someone that bought a house that passed inspection before purchase but then they found out the bathroom floor was rotting, wiring needed to be replaced, etc. They think some of the inspectors in that area are crooked too. Besides Bangor Maine is full of druggies that are whacked out on meth, bath salts, and what ever weird ass drugs they shoot up. You couldn’t pay me to buy property in Bangor Maine! it’s a scumbag city!


      September 18, 2011 at 2:04 pm

  9. Bangor is full of violent alcoholics and methadone users. Just last night a friend of mine and i were harassed by some people standing outside a building. They shouted sexually explicit comments and when we tried to walk away they chased us and pushed my friend down on the sidewalk. When I tried to help him up another man pushed me down into the street (there was a car coming too). Bangor’s full of overpriced run down apartments in dilapidated buildings, slum lords, and annoying neighbors. Out of my window on a daily basis I can see people at night with open bottles of 40s drinking in public. It seems that there are too many punks in Bangor Maine that simply want to instigate fights, beat people up, and/or compete for who’s got the worst life story while they all smoke too much pot, get hammared on alcohol, pop pills, snort, and shoot up. These people are scary and it’s not just one side of the city such as Ohio St. But way over on Garland St… from one side of the city to the other it’s all white trash, it’s all people that just want to drink and turn violent. Not a good city for kids either just look at the Sex Offender registry. Between the psychopathic alcoholics looking to beat you up, you’ve got rapists and sex offenders. Yee Harrr!


    December 17, 2010 at 7:19 pm

  10. PS. Even though the murder rates are lower Bangor Maine (Maine in general) has a Suicide Rate that is higher than the national average. Also just because you may not get murdered doesn’t mean one of these drukin’ red necks won’t beat you up. I see it all the time. I know lots of people who have been beat up for no good reason by the many raging alcoholics that live in Bangor Maine. The place has no jobs and it’s depressing, the alcohol rate is also high statistically speaking. Also I forget which drug it is but Maine is known for having a higher than average birth rate of baby’s born addicted to a certain chemical… sorry I can’t recall what it is but if you look it up you will clearly find it. Maine is always trying to trick “good” people here to bring new blood into the area so be careful of propaganda and twisted facts. Look stuff up for yourselves. For example just because there is a lower Murder rate doesn’t mean you won’t get murdered, also it’s discounting the extremely high suicide rate, and also high rates of drug and alcohol abuse, poverty, and the poor quality of mental health care. Bangor Maine Sucks! No culture No jobs Nothing but drinking. I don’t think that is a good place to raise kids… they’ll have nothing to do.


    December 17, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    • I agree. Plus I hate how the bath salt and other drugs are flooding the Bangor area so badly. People are real sketchy in Bangor Maine. It’s not what it used to be. Too many drug dealers. I know there’s always been a drug problem but in recent years it’s much worse than it ever was. When out for walks I’ve found needles on the ground more so than ever in the past, and tiny little zip lock bags about the size of a thumb nail that appear to be drug related all over the Bangor area. I’ve seen down near Harlow St. what appeared to be a drug sale going on at about 2:00 in the afternoon out in public.


      September 18, 2011 at 1:54 pm

  11. I want to visit Bangor for a couple days because I’ve only been to the shoreline and would like to see the real Maine. I’m from CT and like to check out smaller eastern cities. Most of what you’ve written about the economy and crime is true here where I live, crime is much worse in CT though. I’m wondering if I may meet any nice women to talk with. I’m a barefoot traveler so I should ask if anyone spends entire summers barefoot as well. Thanks for any thoughts. Should I visit the Skowhegan Fair?

    Barefoot Traveler

    August 8, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    • Did you ever visit Bangor? If so, what are your thoughts? I’m considering a move there just for the sheer adventure of it.

      Sherri Brody

      October 21, 2017 at 2:47 pm

  12. By the way, I’m an older guy. A very young 55

    Barefoot Traveler

    August 8, 2013 at 6:31 pm

  13. You make it sound really bad there. I am from the UK and will be moving to Bangor April 2014 because my partner will be working there for a year. However, I intend to branch out and travel around the US for that year and use Bangor as a base. Anything more positive about the place you can tell me?


    October 24, 2013 at 8:19 am

    • John – summer music on the River:
      American Folk Festival, which has performers come from around the world.
      Kahbang! Arts Festival
      Major name concerts at Bangor Waterfront
      Live concerts with an outdoor market in Pickering Square

      Great History, if you like that sort of thing. For example, Bangor was once slated to rival San Francisco and New York City, Shipbuilding. Contact Bangor Historical Society.

      Local attractions:
      Thomas Hill standpipe for views around the city.
      Great city parks, City Forest and Orono Bog Walk
      Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Fort Knox (30 min drive) – great views from the top of the bridge tower and cave-like exploration inside the Fort.


      November 27, 2013 at 4:41 pm

  14. I live in South Carolina right now, but raised my kids in NH and ME. I miss it sooooooo. But, I’m getting old now and the cold and snow and forever winter would probably be the end of me and just as bad as the almost forever summer here. Yes, its bloody hot for 1 season, pretty hot for 2 more and damn cold (30-50) for the last. I want to come home.

    Laurie J Ronan

    December 30, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    • Hi Laurie what of South Carolina am looking for a job there and move in with my family. kindly tell me about the place

      Abijah Nduati

      January 9, 2018 at 8:56 am

  15. Well I am considering a job in Bangor starting july 2014. I am a doctor and I need to work in a small city/town for 3 years due to an immigration clause. I am currently in San Antonio, TX and were it not for the 3 yr obligation, would never leave SA. I have been in Pittsburgh , PA for 3 yrs and enjoyed skiing and out door stuff a lot. Though loved TX far more. I am an outdoor enthusiast. My only concern was the snow and now the above few comments about racism. I have never had any such experience in 6 yrs of being in US. I am a prcticing Pakistani Muslim… any feed back will be greatly appreciated


    January 6, 2014 at 12:21 am

    • Hey did you finally work in Bangor or not? I am moving there too maybe as a doctor, would appreciate some help if you did live there


      September 29, 2016 at 3:26 am

  16. Just like Lewiston, Rockland, Augusta, Waterville, Portland, Biddeford, Sanford, Portsmouth, Boston, Haverhill, and Lowell, Bangor has problems with heroin and opiates. As of 2014, heroin is cheap compared to cocaine, meth and prescription drugs. Heroin comes in overland from Lowell, and by sea into the beautiful Maine coast, which has always been a refuge for smugglers. I hear it’s a national problem — but I can only speak to the local problem. I’ve worked in the criminal justice system here.

    That said, there is little violent crime in Maine. Most violent crime is domestic violence. Stranger to stranger violence is quite rare.

    Maine does take custody of a high number of children compared to other states. I am not sure why: I think it is due to a generously funded Dept. of Health and Human Services, and the large number of rural poor in this state. That’s true whether you live in Bangor or in Portland. If you are poor, and your kids have behavioral issues, and especially you have a substance abuse issues, DHHS may get involved in your life and may take your kids.

    Bangor will probably continue to live in the shadow of its southern neighbors for some time, because of lack of investment in infrastructure, hard winters, and the high cost of energy.

    Bangor, like the rest of Maine, is not particularly racially or religiously diverse. Refugees from Somalia, Sudan, and the Congo have settled in Wells, Lewiston, and Portland.

    That said, I think Bangor and Ellsworth, the fastest growing city in Maine, attract some very talented people. The smart, hard-working, talented Yankees from the old mill towns, such as Dexter and Millinocket, arrive in Bangor and Ellsworth.

    The legal community in Bangor is very sharp — there are really wonderful lawyers in the area. It is a great place to practice law, with a very congenial bar.

    The colleges and universities near Bangor, — U. Maine Orono, Husson, Bangor Theological — add some culture and vibrancy to the area. There are museums, plays, sporting events, beautiful gym and pool facilities, and academics.

    Hampden, an affluent suburb of Bangor, tied with Cape Elizabeth, an affluent suburb of Portland, for best public school system in the state.

    I can’t speak to the quality of the medical community in Bangor. I have heard that is hard to attract doctors to rural areas generally. Maine Medical in Portland, Maine’s only teaching hospital, attracts a lot of the talent. Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta has the lowest rate of hospital infections in the state, as of 2014.

    You see two types of professionals “from away” in Maine: those that took a job in Maine because it was there last choice but the best they could get, and those that had there pick of anywhere in the nation and chose Maine because it is the only place they want to live. Hence, we have some incredibly talented professionals, and some mediocre ones.

    Maine is not an economic power house, and Mainers across the state seem resigned to that fact. We have a lot of skepticism towards large employers. We do a fairly good job promoting small businesses, but do a poor job promoting industries other than tourism, hospitality, and commercial fishing. Our largest employers are the hospitals and a grocery store chain. If we want to attract larger employers, who would come bearing full time jobs with benefits, we’d probably have to lower our energy costs, invest in our infrastructure. We could put a refinery in Vinalhaven, or other deep undeveloped harbor, so that we would be the begining of the line instead of the end of the line, but we lack the political will to do so.

    So I would say, if you’re worried about crime, Bangor is a great place. You stand little risk of being a crime victim if you are not a.) already involved in drugs or b.) already involved in a domestic violence situation.

    If you’re a lower middle class to middle class person who needs to work for a living, Bangor, like most of ME, might be difficult to manage financially.

    If you have money, and like the winter, and love nature, and want a nice place to raise children, then Bangor is a lovely spot.


    July 8, 2014 at 1:27 pm

  17. Sad wow

    willaim ward

    October 7, 2014 at 12:08 am

  18. Hi, I’m a very active, progressive, educated, single 57 year-old who is drawn to Bangor for the old Victorian homes and proximity to my idol, Stephen King. I’m originally from Massachusetts but have lived in the Denver area for many years. What are the chances of my turning one of the old homes into a B&B and inviting Mr. King to do a reading there every once in a while, as well as teaching salsa classes, and plugging into an artsy, progressive community? Is that a far reach for an entrepreneur like me?

    Sherri Brody

    October 21, 2017 at 2:46 pm

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