Samuel Joyall and Lexi Snetsinger
Samuel Joyall and Lexi Snetsinger met online and were originally looking to buy a house together in Portland but instead are focusing their search in the Augusta area.​


ll Lexi Snetsinger wants is to live with her fiance and her rat terrier, Ollie.

The 21-year-old self-employed vintage seller met 22-year-old Samuel Joyall online a year-and-a-half ago and “things just blossomed the more we talked,” she said.

After living 300 miles apart for their whole relationship – her in Dennysville, then East Machias, and him in Groveland, Massachusetts – they’re ready to start a new life together.

They settled on Portland as an in-between point, drawn by the thrift shops and the food and arts scenes they both enjoy.

The couple wanted to pay $1,400 a month or less, were flexible on utilities, and, of course, needed a dog-friendly apartment. But after months of hunting and hundreds of inquiries, the furthest they got was a showing and, a few days later, a notification that the apartment had been rented to someone else.


One landlord, PortProperty Management, required an extra $50 a month for Ollie as well as an interview with the dog and a DNA sample to be kept in a database for testing if feces was found on the property. A match would result in a $200 fine.

Snetsinger, who inherited her house in Dennysville, sold it to her aunt when she and Joyall decided to move in together, thinking it wouldn’t take long to find a place in Portland. Since then, she’s been living with family members in East Machias who have cats, to which she’s allergic.

Having given up on finding an apartment any time soon, they started looking into buying a place because the mortgage payment was likely to be less than renting and they wouldn’t have to worry about a pet policy.

Being young and unsure of their future plans, they’d prefer not to make such a commitment. But in terms of timing and cost, it seems to be the easier and more practical route.

Through Airbnb, they rented an apartment in South Portland for a week in August to check out houses. They found that their price point put them closer to Augusta, although they were still open to renting if they found a place during their stay.

“If an apartment comes along, we’ll take it, but if the right house comes along, we’ll jump on it,” Snetsinger said at the time. “Right now, it’s really just whatever happens first.”


That ended up being a house in Richmond that they were scheduled to close on last week.

Aziza Comparetto, 42, lost his apartment in the West End
Aziza Comparetto, 42, lost his apartment in the West End and is living out of his 1992 Saab. Comparetto, a Navy veteran, used to walk his dog daily on the Western Promenade when he lived there. ​


he last time Aziza Comparetto found himself living out of his car was three years ago, when he and his girlfriend moved to an apartment in Portland and promptly broke up.

This time, he got dumped by his landlord.

After the first break-up, Comparetto, who spent 12 years in the Navy and is now in his early 40s, appealed to Preble Street’s veterans housing services, which helped him with the upfront costs of finding a new place, something he couldn’t save up for while living off G.I. benefits.

He lived in the $850-a-month, one-bedroom apartment in the West End for 2½ years before the building was sold to PortProperty Management last winter. Soon after signing a month-to-month lease with the new owner, he was told the apartment was being renovated and he’d have to leave.


Comparetto, who was studying marine science at Southern Maine Community College, convinced the landlord to let him stay through the end of the semester in May. But as he was frantically trying to find a new place to live – one that also would accept his dog, a beagle mix named John Boy – he stopped going to classes.

He never found a place, and since the spring he’s been living out of his 23-year-old Saab and a tent in the Mahoosucs, an expanse of public land in western Maine where he can camp for free.

As the start of classes in August was approaching, Comparetto was back on the hunt for an apartment. He met with a caseworker at Preble Street again and searched Craigslist from his car.

He had been planning to get his bachelor’s degree in geoscience from the University of Southern Maine, before the program was cut last year. He’s now left with the option of changing his course of study or attending a geoscience program at the University of New England, the University of New Hampshire or elsewhere. But moving isn’t an option until he makes up the two classes he failed in the spring for not attending.

So for now, Portland it is. As of October, he was still living in his car, trying to save up money for a battery to power a heater and electric blanket.

After getting granite countertops and refinished floors, a one-bedroom unit in his former building is now going for $1,250 a month – $400 more than he paid less than six months ago.


Jenique Tairne lived at 131 Chadwick Street in the West End before the cost of living made her and her family move to Westbrook.
Jenique Tairne lived at 131 Chadwick Street in the West End before the cost of living made her and her family move to Westbrook. ​


aying $2,000 a month in rent for a three-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, N.Y., had become unaffordable for Jenique Tairne, 39, and her growing family.

So in 2012 they decided to move to Maine, her husband’s home state, a place they thought would be good for raising kids and more financially reasonable than the suburbs of New York City.

After renting a house in South Portland and paying for heating oil in the winter, the family decided it would be better off renting an apartment where heat is included.

Two days before they had to move out of the house last summer, they finally found a place they could afford – a two-bedroom with heat on the West End for $1,300 a month, or so they thought. When they went to sign the lease, they were informed that the previously stated rent was incorrect – it would be $1,395.

With no time left to keep looking, they shrugged and signed. Soon after they moved in, the building was sold. The new owners had to honor their year lease.


Then in July, a month before the lease expired, they got a notice on their door. The rent was going up to $2,000 a month, the same as they were paying in Brooklyn, before they had a second child and Tairne stopped working.

After getting the notice, Tairne said, she put out 10 to 20 calls or emails a day and usually only had one or two returned. As few as three and as many as 10 other prospective tenants were at every showing – all of them, like her, paying application fees of $25 per adult.

The affordable apartments they saw seemed unsafe – something that Tairne has become more attuned to since the deadly fire last year on Noyes Street in Portland.

“A lot of the buildings, if I was in college I would take it, but with two small children” they made her uneasy, she said.

Their best option was a two-bedroom apartment with a finished attic in Westbrook for $1,150 a month with no utilities included. Because they only have one car, Tairne’s husband has to get a ride or take a bus to his information technology job in Portland and the move adds up to an hour to his commute.

If the schedule doesn’t work out, they might have to get another car, which would probably be just as expensive as staying in the West End – or Brooklyn.

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