Living and Working in Maine
According to one of our colleagues, “To teach at Bowdoin is to help train and educate future leaders—an unalloyed privilege in my experience and a rare one.”
We feel fortunate to live here and to be able to experience everything there is to see and do. Maine is renowned for its beauty—its iconic seaside fishing villages and beaches, mountain vistas, and pristine forests. But the appeal is also very much about the people—their culture, sense of community, way of life, and welcoming, inquisitive, and energized spirit.
Brunswick is within an hour’s drive of any and all of the following: ocean, islands, lakes and streams, mountains, forests, museums, music venues, theater, galleries, hundreds of restaurants and breweries, shopping venues galore, professional sports arenas, one of the best small cities in the country (Portland), and iconic towns and villages that are all ripe for exploration—including but by no means limited to Bath, Belfast, Camden, Damariscotta, Falmouth, Freeport, Harpswell, Rockland, Wiscasset, and Yarmouth. Our close proximity to Portland also means that we're half an hour from the airport, with direct flights daily to the midwest, southeast, and mid-Atlantic regions.
Think of something you enjoy, something you’re interested in trying out, an obscure hobby, a recipe you want to test but that requires a hard-to-find ingredient, a band you want to hear, a garden you want to plant—think of just about anything you might want to see or do and there’s a very good chance you can see and do it here.
If you’re an expert, beginner, or simply an admirer of—well, just about anything that can be done in the outdoors, it can be done in Maine. Shopping? People from around the world flock to Freeport. Foodie? Bon Appetit named Portland the 2018 Restaurant City of the Year. Not to brag, but Maine’s inclusion on “best of” lists continues to expand every year.
You’ll hear a lot of accolades about the importance and strength of the Bowdoin community. It helps that the residents of Brunswick, people of the Midcoast region, and those across our state overall share a firmly held belief in the centrality and resilience of community. People here are passionate about what they believe in and take action to improve their communities—consider the Town of Brunswick’s many boards and commissions as just one example for how you can get involved. Mainers have one another’s backs. We help out our neighbors and look out for people in need. We welcome newcomers. In fact, the populations of Cumberland and Androscoggin counties in particular have blossomed with transplants from around the country and across the entire globe in recent years.
But we’re not going to hide from it: Maine is not the most diverse state in the nation. Nevertheless, Maine’s history is more diverse than is generally supposed, and it is among the states with the strongest indigenous communities, which make invaluable contributions to our way of life. Moreover, the Midcoast region—in places like Portland, Brunswick, and Lewiston-Auburn—has experienced a steady increase in immigrants from a number of places, including the Philippines, Germany, Korea, Canada, Somalia, Sudan, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Indeed, 13 percent of Portland’s population is foreign-born. Why? Because Maine is welcoming. We’re curious and interested in experiencing and learning about new ideas and things that are offered by new people.
Maine is a safe, family-friendly state. Children roam and play freely. It says a lot that Maine is a retirement destination. Our state and region offer growth and support services, and access to excellent healthcare for everyone. It says we’re affordable. And, notably, it says our winters aren’t that bad at all! (They’re actually quite beautiful.)
Maine celebrated its 200th birthday in 2020. While it’s fairly impossible to cover everything that’s to be loved about the state, Bowdoin’s alumni magazine offers a great place to start—we’re proud of our Winter 2020 edition. It says a lot about why Maine people and this place are so special. Check out the issue—and others—in the magazine’s archives here.
But you also likely need to get down to the brass tacks on a number of points, like:
How’s the economy in the area/state? Are there jobs? Can my spouse find work?
Tourism means a lot here. And while COVID-19 has resulted in plenty of economic unknowns, the state’s economy was in good shape prior to the pandemic and the quality of life here is excellent. People are still visiting Maine—and doing so year-round. Over the past decade, Maine has experienced steady growth in key economic sectors including tourism, dining, and hospitality, among many others. The volume of home sales during the past ten years has also continued to grow and many Maine companies are actually experiencing a shortage of skilled labor. (Yes, there are jobs here!)
Some of the top employment sectors in Cumberland County include healthcare, insurance, finance, education, and scientific/medical research. Examples of nearby research institutes include Bigelow Lab, Jackson Lab, the Roux Institute, and Gulf of Maine Research Institute, among others.
Employment websites that provide additional information include:
What about K-12 schools? Public and private? Daycare? How do the schools rank?
For a largely rural state, Maine has a solid tradition of public education and the school districts in and around Brunswick are some of the strongest in the state. Schools in our county have an average ranking in the top 10 percent of public schools in Maine. The Maine School of Science and Mathematics is a public residential magnet high school that has been consistently ranked among the best high schools in the country. The majority of Bowdoin faculty choose to send their children to our public schools. (Some Brunswick school fun facts include an award-winning music program and a quiz bowl team that made it to the semifinals in 2020.) However, there are numerous private schooling options as well, among them the renowned North Yarmouth Academy and Waynflete in Portland. And Thornton Academy in nearby Saco is a top-tier boarding school and the largest public-private high school in the state. Bowdoin’s own Children’s Center offers infant, toddler, and preschool programs. And there are plenty of additional options nearby, including Family Focus and The Little Schoolhouse on Maine, among others.
Where will I live? Where can I live? What sort of things are available to rent/buy?
Staff and faculty live in Brunswick, but also in Portland, all points in between, and farther out. Downtown apartments, in-town bungalows, suburban neighborhoods, waterside retreats, and remote cabins in the woods are all possible—and at a wide range of price levels. New home and residential apartment complex construction has taken off in recent years as more people are moving to and retiring and vacationing in Maine. (So quaint New England saltboxes are just as accessible as modern apartment buildings and townhomes.) And Bowdoin does have housing available for faculty too—the College even shovels your snow!
How do people get around? Do you have to have a car? Is there public transportation?
No, you don’t have to own a car—particularly if you live in Brunswick or Portland, or really any of the towns and villages in between. All are very walkable and bike-friendly. Public transportation runs between Brunswick and Portland several times daily, with stops along the way. And Brunswick has a Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee that is dedicated to improving our local infrastructure.
Speaking of getting around, how accessible is the Brunswick area?
Portland International Jetport is about a thirty-minute drive from Brunswick and offers regular direct flights to around fifteen major cities including New York, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, DC, and Orlando. Brunswick’s downtown train station, which is a five minute walk from campus, also offers multiple daily departures via the Amtrak Downeaster with service to Portland, Boston, New York City, and beyond.
Maybe you’re concerned about “falling off the map” from a professional accessibility perspective.
Don’t be. You probably already know that Bowdoin faculty are regular contributors to and participants in national and international media. The College also has a fully equipped studio on campus that is used for live and taped recordings—even our resident US senator uses it regularly. Contact the College’s media relations team for more information.