A year ago we moved to Portland. Nope, the east coast (and original) Portland, Maine. With Laura having at least one more year in Maine for medical school, we were left two choices: A. maintaining things long distance or B. I move to Maine.
I was ready to leave the D.C. area after 7 or so years there. But I was fairly trepidatious about the concept of moving to Maine. I mean the state has just one area code (207), one decent airport, and one Craigslist. Oh, you like that couch? It’s 5.5 hours away. (seriously, maine.craigslist.com)
But it didn’t take me long to be quickly converted into a full fledged fan-boy.
It is a city of modest size and population. A mix of working class and suits thats tough to find anymore. Its nearly impossible to not be within sight of some body of water. Rent is cheap, 3 dollar beers are the norm, and the food is unmatched by cities 100 times the size. Crime is fairly low, and even the riff raff have memorable personalities (see also: The Whistler, Bike Boombox dude, Congress Square kick boxer guy).
Yeah, it gets cold. But the sun shines plenty, and the weather doesn’t keep people indoors. Yep, it is really far away from nearly everything; but it is that distance keeps the cookie cutter suburbs from popping up.
But what makes the city particularly unique is more about the vibe. It is tough to put your finger on but people don’t seem to take anything too seriously (including themselves). Most people you meet have tried it out west, or NYC, or Boston and moved here specifically because its not any of those. Working late is not looked upon as a badge of honor, and if I got to my shared office space anytime before 9 a.m. I was likely to have the 50+ member office to myself. I don’t think I’ve had a single conversation about money, career paths or “success”. People meet you with a smile, but not because they want to know what you can do for them.
Portlanders doesn’t compare the city to anywhere else. Its just here. Unassuming.
They’d love to have you come through. But if you never do, they’re just fine as is.