Surrounding Portland, Maine are other small cities and towns with a lot to offer: Good schools, beautiful scenery, and easy access to outdoor recreation. Like Portland, they have higher than average housing costs and diverse economies.
South Portland has a population of roughly 25,000. It has a diverse economy, with a working waterfront, manufacturing and the Maine Mall, the largest and busiest mall in the state. It has many parks, including the Greenbelt walkway, a paved trail that traverses many neighborhoods and provides stunning views of the harbor. Home prices in South Portland are slightly lower than Portland, but still higher than the national average.
Cape Elizabeth is one of the pricier towns near Portland, with average home prices in the $500,000 range. With a well-regarded public school system, this is a good town for families. At under 10,000 residents, it’s small and spread out, with three coastal parks official inside the town boundaries: Fort William Park, Crescent Beach State Park, and Two Lights State Park. Cape Elizabeth is also home to the Portland Head Light.
Falmouth predates Portland, and originally included Portland, Cape Elizabeth and South Portland, which were all broken into separate cities as the population grew. It’s been the main suburb of Portland for more than a hundred years, and is home to the Portland Yacht Club and Portland Country Club. It is one of the most affluent towns in Maine, with median home prices of $539,000.
Scarborough is a town on the Gulf of Maine, not Casco Bay. With three sandy beaches (Pine Point Beach, Higgins Beach, and Scarborough Beach State Park), low crime and excellent schools, it’s a perfect coastal town. Scarborough is six miles south of Portland, and is home to the headquarters for Hannaford Supermarkets. Median home prices are $270,400.
The historic Town of Gorham is west of Portland, and inland. It has a traditional main street and downtown, and its residents are down to earth, laid back and friendly. While not on Casco Bay, it is practically on the shores of Sebago Lake, so you may still be able to get water views. With a population of 16,000, it functions primarily as a bedroom community. Median home prices are in the $234,000 range.
Westbrook is an inland town of 18,000. While primarily a suburb of Portland, Westbrook has its own small business base, including IDEXX Laboratories, Inc., and a core downtown area. The city parks feature skating and hockey rinks for winter use, as well as a network of trails. With good schools and a lower median home price than the rest of the area ($195,000), Westbrook would be a great town for families with young children who are looking to stretch their real estate dollars.