David Armistead, associate head of school at John Bapst and AP psychology teacher, works from an office at his Bangor home.  Armistead schedules his teaching time around his family, all who need to be online for either remote learning or instructing. Teachers are creating new techniques to teach remotely since schools have been closed due to the coronavirus. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Maine is among the best states to land a remote job according to a recent ranking, a phenomenon that could ripple through the state’s housing market for years to come.

Maine is the fourth-best state to get a remote work job and the second best to do so in the Northeast, according to a ranking by remote work platform FlexJobs released this week. Only Rhode Island, which was at the top of the list, was ahead of Maine among Northeastern U.S. states.

Many from out of state have moved to Maine since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as workplace changes brought by the pandemic made it unnecessary to go into the office. That has had an effect on the state’s housing market, where increasing out-of-state demand has catapulted housing prices into a range that is untenable for many Maine families.

“Maine’s quality of life and the emergence of teleworking has resulted in unprecedented demand for Maine real estate for the past two years,” Maine Association of Realtors President Madeleine Hill said in a press release last month.

That demand, combined with short supply, has raised prices. And with Maine having a median household income almost 10 percent below the national average, out-of-state residents tend to have more financial resources to buy Maine real estate, including the ability to pay in cash.

A big part of FlexJobs’ ranking was Maine’s relatively low population within an active local economy, said Kathy Gardner, a spokesperson at FlexJobs. Many are also drawn to the state because of the work-life balance, she said, especially the recreational opportunities.

“Accessibility to nature, including places like Acadia National Park … can help lead to a better quality of life — a top priority for many of today’s workers,” Gardner said.

Gardner said quality of life topped the list when workers were surveyed about what would influence a decision to move, but a lower cost of living/housing and “different climate or better weather” were also among the leading responses. She noted that Maine seemed to possess all three factors.

What is distinct about FlexJobs’ list is that it highlights states featuring a robust number of in-state jobs that can be done remotely, with the list noting that many remote jobs require living in the state where the company is based.

The listing highlights Bar Harbor-based Jackson Laboratory, which employs 3,000 people globally, and Idexx Laboratories in Westbrook, which has over 10,000 employees.

While the new out-of-state moves could continue to raise prices and demand within the state’s housing market, people moving to Maine to work would bring far stronger growth to the economy than people working for out-of-state employers.

Around 8 percent of Mainers worked at home as of the 2020 American Community Survey, which totals around 54,000 people. At the time, that was the ninth-highest rate for any U.S. state. That number has increased since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, with remote jobs proliferating across the United States

Home-based work — work that doesn’t involve traveling to a separate workplace, according to the Census Bureau — encompasses various professions. The highest rate for a Maine community of over 500 people was the Waldo County town of Thorndike, where 35 percent of workers 16 and over said they worked from home.

Among Maine’s 10 most populous communities, Scarborough led with 12 percent of its workers 16+ working from home. Portland had 11 percent, Bangor 7 percent and Augusta and Lewison 5 percent each.