The 25 Safest Places to Live in Maine

Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  Alun K. Wu 

We want to provide those we love with a safe place to live. But how do we decide where our family should live? What criteria do utilize? Economic opportunity was once the only important factor to consider, but experts at Safe Essentials say there is a new standard - and that standard is safety. The reason is simple. In our modern economy, opportunity exists in lots of places, and quality municipal services exist even in the smallest towns, but you can't manufacture safety. You have to go where safety exists.

The Safe Essentials staff is going to give you a guided tour of the very safest places for your family in Maine. This is a veritable wish list of quaint New England destinations - each one a great place to visit - each one a great place to consider calling home.

Here's How We Did It

Our analysts are experts in quantitative modeling. They have backgrounds in social sciences: sociology or economics. And they are security experts. We developed a proprietary model just for identifying the safest communities in the United States.

Once they created the safe community model, all they needed was good data. And it just so happens the FBI has it. The FBI has been collecting national crime data through their Uniform Crime Reporting Program since 1930. The data are published in Crime in the United States. The Bureau of Justice offers the UCR data in digital form for researches like us.

The data offer a comprehensive history of Maine's crime including murder, manslaughter, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft, auto-theft and others. We can see an aggregate measure of violent crime and property crime. And so we can infer, not just the most dangerous places, but the very safest places as well. Our analysts fed the UCR data for the the state of Maine into our customized safe community model. The analysis produced the basis for this report. We almost took into account the ratio of citizen to active law enforcement proffesionals.

Normally when you envision the state of Maine, you're likely to envision its natural beauty - its pristine forests - or its latticework of lakes and streams reaching out for the rugged shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Now, with the help of our security experts, you can see into the actual state of Maine - into the safest places in this safest of states.

The 25 Safest Places in Maine

1. Eliot

  • Population 6,204
  • Citizen : Police Ratio 62

The safest town in the safest state in the United States - according to our data - is Eliot, Maine. Eliot is located in York County, the farthest SW county in the state, along State Rate 236, also known as Harold L. Dow Highway. Eliot is gleaming with New England character. Air commuters can take advantage of Littlebrook Airpark. Visitors can peer into Eliot's past by visiting the Raitt Homestead Farm Museum, a beautifully preserved home of early brickmaker, miller and apple grower, Charles A. Raitt. Convenient shopping and outstanding schools in the midst of abundant recreation beckon you to Eliot. We can't stop you from bringing worries with you when you visit Eliot. But we can assure you that worrying about your safety won't serve you here. According to our data, Eliot does not have any violent crime. None.

2. Cumberland

  • Population 7,211
  • Citizen : Police Ratio 658

Remnants of Cumberland Maine's rich agricultural history still remain in places such as Spring Brook Farms and Double T orchards. Although life in Cumberland involves a lot more recreation than farm work today. You'll find it at the Twin Brook Recreation Facility. Twin Brook is a 250 acre, indoor/outdoor playground for every season. It has 22 acres of mixed athletic fields and 4 miles of trails for walking in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter. Or there's the Cumberland Fair, held every year since 1868. Cumberland has almost no crime at all. This super safe Portland suburb has lots of family amenities and plenty of New England country charm.

South Berwick, Maine by Dougtone, on FlickrCreative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Dougtone

3. South Berwick

  • Population 7,220
  • Citizen : Police Ratio 605

"River with many falls." That's the name given to Salmon Falls River by the Abenaki Indians. Travel from the Gulf of Maine, through the Great Bay, up Salmon Falls River which divides Maine and New Hampshire in places, and you will come to the beautiful town of South Berwick in York County. Its New England history is rich with fishermen, lumberjacks and sailors. And South Berwick is home to the oldest school in the state. Berwick Academy is a classic New England prep school which has been in continual operation since 1791. We think that's great evidence of a safe, family-friendly community.

Portland Head Light; Cape Elizabeth, Mai by Jody Roberts, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  Jody Roberts   

4. Cape Elizabeth

  • Population 9,015
  • Citizen : Police Ratio 646

Cape Elizabeth is among Maine's most noteworthy promontories. It is the name of the town as well as the headland jutting 12 miles into the Atlantic. To its north is the picturesque Portland Head Lighthouse, city of Portland and Casco Bay. The Great Pond sits in the middle of Cape Elizabeth — a formerly private lake and wetland, now open to the public. Cape Elizabeth is and affluent bedroom community of Portland, welcoming visitors to share its safe streets and natural beauty.

 Yarmouth, Maine by Dougtone, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Dougtone 

5. Yarmouth

  • Population 8,349
  • Citizen : Police Ratio 644

Yarmouth is a town in Cumberland County, on Maine's southern coast. It's ten miles or so North of Portland in the Portland-Biddeford metro area. Yarmouth is a great example of a New England town, with a quaint main street, historic architecture and local shops. The Royal River which divides Yarmouth from Freeport is flanked by a beautiful parkway. The Yarmouth Harbor lends commercial diversity to the area, with the Atlantic Ocean serving as its southeastern border. This warm and safe community offers the motto, "Our Latchstring Always Out." It's a Yarmouth way of saying, "our door is open to you."

Buxton, Maine by Dougtone, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Dougtone   

6. Buxton

  • Population 8,034
  • Citizen : Police Ratio 577

Buxton is located on Maine's State Route 4, west of Scarborough and South Portland, near the Sacco River and Salmon Falls. Also on State Route 4 are Windham, Gorham, Waterboro and Alfred. Buxton comprises the villages of Buxton Center, West Buxton, Chicopee, Groveville, Bar Mills and Salmon Falls. Movie fans might appreciate it as the site of the stone wall where fictional character Red, from the "Shawshank Redemption" retrieved a note from Andy Dufresne. This family-friendly and safe community is outside the city hustle, but within a short drive to Portland or Biddeford.

Football field by nightthree, on FlickrCreative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  nightthree

7. Hampden

  • Population 7,257
  • Citizen : Police Ratio 605

No other bay extends as deeply into Maine as the Penobscot bay. Follow the bay up the Penobscot River past Bucksport, Frankfort, Winterport and you reach Hampden, just before Bangor. The watershed takes its named for the Penobscot Indian Nation who have inhabited the area for over ten thousand years. The bay and town continue to provide abundance for its inhabitants. Those inhabitants have included activist Dorothea Dix, Vice President of the United States, Hannibal Hamlin, and author Steven King who taught at the Hampden Academy. Seafood lovers should visit Hamlin's Marina — a full-service boating center and a great place to experience fresh lobster.

Falmouth by Tim Green aka atoach, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  Tim Green aka atoach   

8. Falmouth

  • Population 11,185
  • Citizen : Police Ratio 468

Falmouth is north of Cape Elizabeth and Portland. With its outskirts touching Maine's coast, it covers 32 square miles, slightly inland. It sits in the heart of the Presumpscot Watershed which feeds Casco Bay. Falmouth has the reputation of offering K-12 students among the best education in the state. Falmouth's visitors and residents have lots to do and see between the local harbor, indoor and outdoor skating, golf course, and its many parks. And Falmouth is an easy trek to neighbors up and down I-95 and I-295.

Gorham, Maine by Dougtone, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Dougtone   

9. Gorham

  • Population 16,381
  • Citizen : Police Ratio 657

Gorham is nestled in the SW corner of Maine in Cumberland County, part of the Greater Portland Area. A cluster of villages within a village, Gorham is one of three locations of the University of Southern Maine. Gorham's Parks and Recreation Department is an exemplar for any town. Its activities include baseball clinics, floor hockey, horseback riding, skiing, pickleball, snowshoeing, and the list goes on and on. The programs are geared to keep the kids busy before and after school, and on summer break. In fact, a family could easily design their whole social calender around Gorham's Parks and Rec. Not many small towns can make that claim.

Kennebunk, Maine by Dougtone, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Dougtone   

10. Kennebunk

  • Population 10,798
  • Citizen : Police Ratio 517

An early trading post settled in 1621, Kennebunk grew into a shipbuilding center. Although today, showing off its history and natural beauty to visitors is an even bigger industry. So too is Tom's of Maine — maker of natural health-care products in Kennebunk, since the 1970s. Kennebunk offers tourists and residents a variety of beaches. In town, you'll find historic architecture such as the Federal-style Wedding Cake House. Or visit Maine Street's Brick Store Museum and shop. 1-95 makes Kennebunk an easy commute, with some residents working in Portland, New Hampshire or Massachusetts.

11. Wells

  • Population 9,589
  • Citizen : Police Ratio 345

Wells is a coastal town located on Highway 1, below Kennebunkport. It is the entrance to an inland waterway and the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. Because of its tidal marshes and wetlands, the refuge offers exceptional bird watching. The preserve takes its name from Rachel Carson who championed migratory songbirds and the banning of DDT. The third oldest town in the state, it was incorporated in 1653. Its abundant rivers and rich soil attracted saw mills, grist mills and farmers. Now, Wells is a great spot to catch the popular and scenic Downeaster passenger train — a 145-mile loop from Boston, MA to Brunswick ME with 10 stops in between, including Wells.

12. Winslow

  • Population 7,794
  • Citizen : Police Ratio 779

The town of Winslow is located on a peninsula nestled at the confluence of the Kennebec and Sebasticook Rivers. It is the smaller neighbor of Waterville to the West. The town was named for General John Winslow, a descendant of Edward Winslow, Pilgrim governor of the Plymouth Colony who arrived on the Mayflower. Benedict Arnold stopped at Fort Halifax in Winslow en route to invade Canada. You can still visit Fort Halifax. Built in 1754, it is the oldest remaining blockhouse in the United States.

13. Lisbon

  • Population 9,009
  • Citizen : Police Ratio 473

Lisbon is home to the famous Moxie-festival. The festival celebrates the New England soft drink marketed by Dr. Augustin Thompson as a cure-all in 1884. "Nerve Food" he called it, along with a promise to shore up your manhood. Lisbon celebrates the the drink with all things Moxie. And you can celebrate Moxie in mid-July with music, fireworks, parade, kids fun run, car show and river race. Lisbon is on Highway 196 between Lewiston and Brunswick in Androscoggin County.

Kittery, Maine by Dougtone, on FlickrCreative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Dougtone

14. Kittery

  • Population 9,490
  • Citizen : Police Ratio 382

Kittery is one of the places that earned Maine its reputation for shipbuilding. "The oldest incorporated town in Maine," the settlement at the natural harbor of the Piscataqua River estuary was incorporated in 1647. It is the northern neighbor of Portsmouth and the Portsmouth Naval shipyard. Badger Island was the location of the first vessels built for the revolutionary war, and Fernald's Island was home to the nations first federal shipyard in 1800. Kittery provides a gateway to a vast inland waterway and water-access to South Eliot, Eliot, Dover, Rollingsford, Durham, Newmarket and Exeter. Few places in the country are as steeped in maritime history as this remarkable port city.

15. York

  • Population 12,529
  • Citizen : Police Ratio 341

York sits on the state's southern coast, looking out to the Gulf of Maine. With over 12,500 residents, its among the larger of our small towns. While every one of our 25 is noteworthy for their safety, York has almost no crime at all. It also has the highest ratio of law enforcement personnel to citizens, with one for every 341 people. Just north of Kittery and Portsmouth, York was historically a trading center and port in its own right. Now York is a thriving resort town with a choice of 18-hole golf courses and four sandy beaches. York is also home to the trail head for the Mount Agamenticus Conservation Region — 10,000 acres of pristine natural beauty to explore.

16. Windham

  • Population 17,001
  • Citizen : Police Ratio 588

Windham has the distinction of being the largest town to make our list with just over 17,000 residents. While all of Maine is steeped in history, it doesn't get much more historical than the 13 Windham residents reported to have accompanied George Washington at Valley Forge as part his Continental Army. Windham was first known by farmers for its rich soil. Now Windham is know for its outdoor opportunities. The Windham Parks and Recreation Department maintains nearly 500 acres of parks, trails and preserved land. Summer in Windham offers fresh-picked blueberries and in winters, cross-country skiing.

17. Caribou

  • Population 8,189
  • Citizen : Police Ratio 479

Caribou has been known for its potato agriculture. This small town was once the biggest hub of potato shipping in the world. Swedish influence can still be felt in Caribou. This was home of the "Swedish Colony," the entry point for a wave of Swedish immigrants in 1870 and 1871. Near the Canadian border, it was the location of the "Aroostook War" over the international boundary. The thriving outpost has transcended economic changes to maintain a stable and growing home for its residents. It is the most northeastern city in the United States, and a great place to experience New England.

18. Orono

  • Population 10,362
  • Citizen : Police Ratio 691

Penobscot County hosts the town of Orono, named for Joseph Orono of the Penobscot Nation. Orono is home to the University of Maine, Maine's flagship research university. "UMaine," originally called the Maine College of Agriculture and the Mechanical Arts, came to be by stroke of Abraham Lincoln's pen in 1862 when he signed the Morill Act. The town sits at the confluence of the Stillwater and Penobscot Rivers. It is about ten river miles upstream from Bangor, just a 15 minute commute on 1-95.

Winthrop, Maine by Dougtone, on FlickrCreative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Dougtone

19. Winthrop

  • Population 6,092
  • Citizen : Police Ratio 435

Like so many Maine towns, its settlement began with the construction of a sawmill. John Chandler built its first in 1768, followed by a gristmill. And that mill built others which built the Winthrop Woolen and Cotton Manufactory in 1809. In addition to its industry, Winthrop developed into a recreational headquarters. Its population doubles each summer as residents occupy camps on Winthrop's lakes. First known as "Pondtown," Winthrop is in Kennebec County in the Augusta area.

Berwick, Maine by Dougtone, on FlickrCreative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Dougtone

20. Berwick

  • Population 7,246
  • Citizen : Police Ratio 663

Berwick is tucked against the New Hampshire border in the SW corner of Maine. It is in York County, part of the Portland-Biddeford metro area. Berwick is another name drawn from the English countryside, taken from Berwick-upon-tweed. It sits beside the Salmon Falls River. A bridge links Berwick to Somersworth, New Hampshire, its neighboring mill town. Berwick became an "exporter" in 1842 by way of the Portland, Saco and Portsmouth and Boston and Main Railroads. Its products included a whole variety of wood and paper products from toboggans to packaging materials. Berwick continues to produce quintessentially Maine goods.

21. Oakland

  • Population 6,240
  • Citizen : Police Ratio 567

Originally a district of Waterville, it came into its own in 1873 as "West Waterville," before being renamed Oakland ten years after. It began as another sawmill boom-town, this one powered by the Messalonskee Stream. The stream, when dammed, provided energy for the Cascade Woolen Mill and the factories that established Oakland as the "ax and scythe capital of New England." Oakland is within an easy commute to neighboring communities, Waterville and Augusta. It is the gateway to the Belgrade Lakes region of Central Maine — an outdoor playground of fishing and boating.

Freeport, Maine by Dougtone, on FlickrCreative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Dougtone

22. Freeport

  • Population 7,879
  • Citizen : Police Ratio 527

In Cumberland County, Freeport is four villages conjoined: Mast Landing, Freeport Corner, South Freeport and Porter's Landing. This harbor town was settled in 1700. It may be best known as the birthplace of famed catalog retailer, L.L. Bean, in 1912. It grew to prominence selling the "Maine Hunting Shoe." If you want to see Freeport, or just want a day's getaway in the Portland-Biddeord area, shopping Freeport's famous outlet stores is a great option.

23. Topsham

  • Population 8,784
  • Citizen : Police Ratio 731

Once called "Sawacook" by the native inhabitants of Pejepscot Falls, the area was granted to private owners by the Plymouth Council, and later purchased by the Pejebscot Company. The plantation in this location drew its name from the town of Topsham in Devon, England. Hydro-power grew its shipbuilding and timber industries. It is in the Portland-Biddeford metropolitan area. To sample a taste of Topsham, we recommend you visit the Topsham Fair where you can see everything from a demolition derby to horse buggy racing. It's been a tradition for 158 years.

24. Farmington

  • Population 7,760
  • Citizen : Police Ratio 555

This peaceful town originally became known for exceptionally fertile soil. In 1781 settlers built a hydro-powered sawmill on what was then called Sandy River Plantation. Power from the Sandy River would invite door factories, gristmills, carriage makers and brickyards. It remains a center for trade in the region. And it is now home to the University of Maine, Farmington. You'll enjoy Farmington whether or not you're attending. And if you're just considering school here, they'll even give you a free tour.

25. Houlton

  • Population 6,123
  • Citizen : Police Ratio 305

Whereas most of Maine's population is settled in the lower SW quadrant of the state, Houlton is far north, nearer the NE corner. It is located where I-95 meets the Canadian border. Nicknamed the "Shire Town" by recent inhabitants, Houlton has been populated for millennium by native peoples. It is the cite where in 1927 the first transatlantic phone service linked New York and London. Houlton offers recreation all year. And to top it off, its residents enjoy some of the lowest electricity costs in New England. It is number 25 of on our list of Maine's safest places.

comments powered by Disqus