A resort town in southern Maine is seeing an influx of out-of-state residents despite housing costs spiking more than the state average.
Nearly one out of every 10 people in Ogunquit had moved from another state within the past year, according to recently released U.S. Census data from the American Community Survey for 2020, among the highest rates for any community in Maine.
At the same time, Ogunquit has seen a 25 percent increase in home values in the past year, higher than the 21 percent increase both in Portland and statewide according to real estate website Zillow.
It’s unlikely that the influx of out-of-state residents is entirely responsible for the rise in the cost of housing. But rising interest by buyers from out-of-state for Maine homes does have the potential to drive prices up by increasing demand for a scarce commodity: Maine properties.
A recent report from the Maine Association of Realtors noted the tie between housing demand and prices and said that those from across the country continue to buy homes in Maine seeking the “quality and life and safety” provided by the state.
Residents outside of Maine are also more likely to have access to financial resources than Mainers themselves, including the ability to pay for a home with cash. Maine’s median household income is around 8 percent lower than the U.S. average, according to Census data.
Many from outside of Maine have sought to live in the state since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, in part to escape high coronavirus rates elsewhere and an increase in remote work, though there are some indications that not all of these new residents will stay in Maine for the long-term.
Those who want to purchase a home in Ogunquit can expect to pay around $750,000, according to Zillow. Homes across the town’s famous waterfront are even pricier, with one sprawling five-bedroom house with a dock and hot tub listed for just under $5 million.
Orono, which serves numerous students at the University of Maine, had the highest rate of new out-of-state residents for any Maine community of over 1,000 people, with 15 percent of residents moving from out-of-state within the last year. Ogunquit was second in that category. Such statistics also include Maine natives who moved to another state before returning.
Local real estate agent Heath Ouellette, who is also chair of the Ogunquit Select Board, said that most out-of-state buyers he had worked with were buying homes in Ogunquit as they prepared to retire.
“Most are 5-10 years away from retiring and want to live in southern Maine after retirement,” Ouellette said.
Notably, the largest contingent of out-of-staters who had moved to Ogunquit was not from the Northeast, but the South, Census data showed.
Such residents include Aaron Nichols, 49, who moved to the town in January 2020 from Charlotte, North Carolina, to live with his partner, who owned a condo in Ogunquit. Nichols noted that the town is well-known as a spot for LGBTQ people, though he was surprised it had seen so many new residents with its small size.
“Convenience to the beaches, trails and even Boston provides lots of entertainment options,” Nichols said.
Reggie Taylor, 56, who moved from Indianapolis in October 2019, said the beaches and local hospitality was what was attracting a diverse group of people to the town, including those from other states.
“The beach is one of the best around,” Taylor said. “You can’t beat it.”
Ogunquit is one of Maine’s newest communities, having separated from neighboring Wells in 1980. It has seen rapid population growth in recent years from both within and outside of Maine. Residents almost doubled from 2010 to 2020, increasing from 892 to 1577, according to the 2020 U.S. Census.
The town has quick access to Interstate-95 and Route 1 that makes it around a 40-minute drive from Portland, an hour from Manchester, New Hampshire, and around 70 minutes from Boston.
Around 3 percent of people in Maine had lived in a different U.S. state a year ago, according to the American Community Survey data. That’s around 35,000 people.
Of Maine’s 10 largest communities, Portland had the most residents who had moved from out-of-state within the past year (5 percent) while Saco had the lowest (1 percent). Around 4 percent of Bangor residents had moved from another state within the past year.