Real Estate

Droves of people are moving out of Boston. Their top destination? Portland, Maine.

Here’s what a realtor had to say.

A jogger runs towards Bug Light while a lobster boat heads out of Portland Harbor under calm conditions, Tuesday morning. June 7, 2022, in Portland, Maine. AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

People are moving out of Boston and settling in Portland, Maine, a new study shows.

Data from real estate brokerage corporation Redfin places Boston as the fifth most common metro area people are leaving, with 19% of local users searching elsewhere. Portland, Maine, is the most popular spot for Boston residents looking to move, based on Redfin search data.

Lynn Hallett, a broker and owner of Town and Shore Real Estate in Portland, says this is nothing new — she’s seen a large number of Boston residents looking to move north. In fact, she made the move herself 35 years ago.


“Back then, my friends and family didn’t know what was north of Boston,” she said. “Now the same people either have come or want to come.”

Why Portland?

A mix of local culture and life changes brings people to Portland, Hallett said.

The realtor referenced the town’s historic architecture and rich restaurant scene as driving cultural factors. She also said the coastal town provides access to the ocean, nature, and “a slower pace of life” for those looking to get out of the city.

“Everything is accessible. Not to knock on Boston, but here in Portland, we don’t have to wait in long lines for a restaurant, the symphony, or theatre.”

Portland is a little under two hours from Boston by car, and also borders a state park. Hallett attributes at least 60% of her business to people relocating to Maine. She has seen buyers from New England states like Massachusetts, and as far as California and Texas.

Redfin notes that the pandemic has made people reevaluate their housing choices. The study states that due to an uptick in remote work in the last two years, more than one-third of American job-holders can work from home full time. This allows users to relocate for lower home prices. 


Hallett said her business has increased since lockdowns began, and that remote workers make up a large portion of her clientele.

“You can work from anywhere, so why not work from Portland, Maine?”

Inflation and pricing

Nearly one-quarter (24.2%) of homebuyers nationwide looked to move to a different metro area in the third quarter, the Redfin report said. The study attributes the exodus primarily to finances, citing data that shows that the typical Portland home costs roughly $200,000 less than that in Boston. 

“With a recession looming and household expenses high, many people can’t afford to buy a home in an expensive area and/or want to save money in case of an emergency, which makes relocating somewhere more affordable an attractive option,” Redfin Economics Research Lead Chen Zhao said in the study. 

But Hallett says that in her experience selling homes, low pricing in Portland isn’t always what it seems.

“One of the things I have to do with new buyers is educate them. The perception is that they are going to be spending less for the same thing they would get in a place like Boston, but that is not really the case.”


Hallett said she has seen prices around Maine increase drastically since 2020. The greater Portland area, she said, has had at least a 20% increase in pricing in the last several years. According to data from Zillow, the average price of a home in Portland has increased 10% in the last year alone. 

“If you look at new, downtown condos similar to those in Boston, the price is pretty darn similar,” she said. “It’s huge demand, and lower inventory — simple economics.”


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