Pursuit of Truthiness

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Thinking of Living in Bangor?

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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.

Location

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