June 19, 2013

Experts: Portland really is excellent city

Outsiders, residents and statistics say Portland ranks high in terms of quality-of-life issues like jobs, safety and cultural opportunities.

By Karen Antonacci kantonacci@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND – Portland's new slogan makes a bold claim about the quality of life in Maine's largest city. But is life here really that good? And how do we know?

click image to enlarge

In this August 2012 file photo, thousands gather for the "Gentlemen of the Road Stopover" concert on Portland's Eastern Promenade along the water. Outsiders, residents and statistics say Portland ranks high in terms of quality-of-life issues like jobs, safety and cultural opportunities.

Derek Davis / Staff Photographer

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Forbes magazine apparently thinks so. It named Portland the nation's most livable city in 2009, based on its low unemployment rate, low crime rate, income growth, low cost of living, and varied arts and leisure opportunities.

Parenting magazine named Portland the third-best city for families in 2012.

Travel + Leisure named it the seventh-greenest city the same year.

And Forbes.com put the city in its top 10 for job prospects in 2012.

Portland does appear to compare well in typical measures of quality of life.

About 5 percent of Portlanders are unemployed, compared with 7 percent nationwide, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

Portlanders earn about 4.6 percent – $1,285 a year -– more than people in other parts of the United States, on average, according to census data from 2007 to 2011. The per capita income in Portland was $29,200, compared with $27,915 nationwide.

Portlanders also spend more money.

The price of common goods in Portland is about 17 percent higher than the national average, according to the latest federal Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index.

Several visitors who were asked Tuesday about Portland's quality of life tended to focus on the positive.

"I call it our little metropolis. It's a pretty city with galleries and museums ... plus it's a nice size," said Susan Taylor of Blue Hill, who held her 14-month-old granddaughter, Eliza Baran, as members of her family unloaded their car in the Old Port.

Cathleen Evans, 31, said she agrees with the city's new slogan.

"I like the independent shops," said Evans, who was visiting from Chicago on her honeymoon with Alan Paberzs. "And I appreciate the push to get people to shop locally, with the Buy Local stickers at stores."

Paberzs, also 31, said the new slogan is "a little cheesy" but he appreciates the intent.

"It's kind of like that sign that you see coming from New Hampshire," Paberzs said, referring to the "Welcome to Maine: The way life should be" sign on Interstate 95.

"Mainers are cool people," he said. "They have a very quiet, self-assured confidence."

Karen Antonacci can be contacted at 791-6377 or at:

kantonacci@mainetoday.com

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