Portland, Maine. Is Craigslist best for rentals?
June 30, 2014 5:47 PM   Subscribe

We're hopefully going to get the go ahead on a job move to Portland, Maine very soon and want to get set up with a rental to move into when we get there. Looking for a pet friendly 2/3 bed house/apartment in either Portland itself or South Portland or nice neighborhoods very nearby. Is Craigslist the best place to look or is there something Maine/Portland specific that outsiders like us wouldn't know about? Any tips/area recommendations gratefully received!
posted by merocet to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Well, Craigslist is one thing. Another thing is going on Facebook or Twitter and friending locals.

But we used to rent from Maine Properties and Cheryl is wicked nice, you can tell her Rob my husband referred you.

There are several Mainers on MeFi, they might have more info. What you need is neighborhood specific info: Munjoy Hill is really nice, the Western Prom is wicked nice, there is an area off of the Franklin Arterial that is not so nice, and although it sounds nice, the Park area is not really that nice at all.

We used to live in Woodford's Corner area, and that is pretty nice, mostly. Bakery nearby, Great Lost Bear pub, Victorian houses, etc. But it's not downtown. Which, downtown is 5 minutes away.

South Portland is across the bridge. It's a whole 'nother world, my friend. There are great neighborhoods there, but it's not Portland. It's more like Portland lite. You are near the ocean tho'. And near Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth. Less crime.

However, in Portland Town, Eastern Prom and Munjoy Hill, that is where all the hip people live. You can walk to the park and look over Casco Bay, or run around the Back Cove (which you still could if you rented in Woodford's but it's several blocks from the Cove). I guess it depends on how much you want to pay, as many people love dogs. Maybe some other Portlanders will speak up.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:10 PM on June 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Craigslist works, but honestly talking to people who live there is usually the best bet. It took us a few months to secure another place in Portland, even after living there for 6 months. Renting in Portland is really difficult unless you've got boatloads of cash, OR are moving from point to point within Portland. Listings on craigslist are often more expensive than other word-of-mouth rentals.

Advice on the neighborhoods is spot on.

And, only because it got posted as an individual referral, we had a terrible, horrific experience with Maine Properties. They handled the situation terribly, and crossed alot of ethical boundaries (along with nearly a couple legal ones) in the situation. Granted, not everyone's experience, but a data point nonetheless.
posted by furnace.heart at 7:25 PM on June 30, 2014

Portland resident for almost 20 years.

Yes, Craigslist is a thing. I personally don't know anyone who has gone through a management company, but I do know the companies post on Craigslist.

As to neighborhood, the biggest issue to me would be: kids or no kids? If you have elementary age kids, the answer would absolutely be to get a place as close as you can to Longfellow Elementary School on Stevens Ave. No kids, then the next question would be, do you want a hip neighborhood, or a cheap neighborhood. Also, with the job, is it downtown or in one of the surrounding towns? SoPo is nice, and could be cheaper, but it isn't Portland (if the "scene" is what you're looking for).

Portland is absolutely a landlords market, because there is only finite space on the peninsula. So rentals in the city are higher than in the surrounding communities. When is your move? A different option might be getting a cheaper winter rental in one of the coastal communities (say Old Orchard Beach) and having that as short term (6 month ish) housing outside the city until you find a place in town. The flipside of that is that there would be a commute.
posted by anastasiav at 7:33 PM on June 30, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers so far. In answer to your questions, we're I guess somewhat hip graphic designer/radio/musician/arty people but late 30s/early 40s so I guess retired hip? We have a 10 month old small person and 2 dogs. Lived in London and Manhattan for most of our time but currently languishing in the wilds of Northern NY due to some less than optimal decision making. We're not looking to be in the middle of a scene but it'll be nice to have a scene nearby. We'd certainly take cheaper rent/extra bedroom over being in the heart of things and don't mind short commutes.

We didn't have much time in the city last time but loved the feel of it and the people we met. Wandered around the old port then headed over to Willard Beach in S. Portland which was very nice. If I could have a beach at the end of the street that'd be great (and a pony obviously.)
posted by merocet at 5:45 AM on July 1, 2014

Definitely consider South Portland. It is not in the hip zone but you can easily get to Portland itself for the scene. Our cousins just bought a nice house in South Portland and are talking it up (after also considering Yarmouth).
posted by gudrun at 7:08 AM on July 1, 2014

I had a 2 family house near Back Cove and listed the apartment on Craigslist. With 2 dogs and a small human, I'm guessing you'd like some yard. South Portland is also a nice town. People I know who are (I think) cool live in all areas of both towns.

Western Prom(Promenade) - several areas are wealthy, a few areas are low income.
Eastern Prom - was wealthy on the Prom, traditionally low income, but has gotten gentrified/hipsterized.
There's a ton of rentals - 2- and 3- family houses west of 295 in the Deering area, many in nice old houses with nice details.
posted by theora55 at 7:25 AM on July 1, 2014

Having a beach at the end of the street could be the Eastern Prom/Munjoy Hill area, actually, or South Portland. Most families with toddlers I know do want a yard, which is very hard to come by up there, though. I would still advocate for you to look in the area centered around Longfellow School ("Rosemont") - very nice neighborhood with walkable bakery/market, library, parks, coffee shops and a very family-oriented feel. Might be possible to find space in a 2-family home there that had access to a yard. No beach, though.

For my money, though, the area called "Stroudwater" is very underrated if you want things like a bigger yard and access to the ocean/marsh (on a map this is the area near the intersection of Westbrook St and Congress, on the oceanward side of the Fore River Sanctuary). Not at all as walkable, but a very livable area in terms of access to nature, big yards. Fewer rentals there, though. And I would move before Jr. became school age.
posted by anastasiav at 10:35 AM on July 1, 2014

Response by poster: We'd likely be moving mid-August if everything is confirmed. Lots of great information here so thanks very much everybody!

If any of you think of any other resources then please feel free to add.

We'll look to organizing a Portland Mefi meet up once this is all settled so we can see you great people!
posted by merocet at 10:57 AM on July 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

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