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Last week, we brought you stories of people who moved to Maine from all over the country during the state’s housing boom.
But there are more on the way, closing deals, making calls and scheduling moves for a new life in Vacationland. We talked to two people about their plans as they look to move from opposite sides of the country.
‘We can’t wait for seasons’
Courtney Borrie, a 40-year-old high school teacher and tutor, was first introduced to Maine through a family friend with a condo in Stockton Springs. Her parents then did what she calls a “reverse retirement.” They left Tampa for Belfast, moving here full time in 2019.
While she and her husband, Evan, originally looked at Brunswick, they were drawn in by the culture of Portland. They loved the walkability of the city and the fact that they had access to an Amtrak station there that could take them far and wide, including to Boston.
In preparation for the move, they visited Portland this past January to see what it was like during the winter. Residents were shocked that tourists were there during that time, even more so when they found out they were coming from Florida, Borrie said.
While she understands that living through the Maine winter for a lengthier period each year is different, she and her husband came back with a positive perspective and a desire to move up here.
“We can’t wait for seasons,” Borrie said. “I’m so sick of hot weather in December.”
After coming back, they began preparing to sell their Tampa home. They got 13 offers and “love letters” from potential buyers doing anything to try to gain an edge in the market before it sold.
Those are signs of the booming U.S. housing market. They found the Portland market fairly easy. After some searching, they found a condo in Deering Center with the help of a “very calm, patient” real estate agent. It was the only property they bid on, and they got it with little hassle, she said.
After closing the sale on Thursday, she will get to see it for the first time next week. Her husband saw it earlier during an inspection that the couple had no interest in waiving. They will move there in mid-August.
Evan is a project manager who works remotely, so that was no problem moving. Borrie already has a conditional certification to teach in Maine and also owns a remote tutoring business. She plans to continue the latter and try to get a full-time teaching position as soon as possible.
She and Evan were already able to take in a Maine Mariners game when they visited earlier this year. They were impressed with both the game and the hospitality of those there.
“Not having a built-in network of friends, people you know to call on, that will be pretty new,” said Borrie, who is looking forward to finding a new social circle. “Getting involved with all the different arts and culture, we’re excited about that.”
A big scholarship
Missoula, Montana, is about 2,400 miles from Maine. So what brought Alyxus Friesen, 29, and her husband, Nick, here? A full-ride scholarship.
That’s what Friesen got to attend the University of Maine School of Law in Portland showing the power of Maine’s educational institutes to drive people to the state from elsewhere.
Friesen, who just graduated from the University of Montana with a political science degree, will be moving to Gardiner with her husband and her three children — ages 6, 4 and 2 —to a leased three-bedroom townhome.
“Like most millennials, home ownership is little more than a pipe dream at this point,” Friesen said.
But renting was no walk in the park either. They looked on Facebook Marketplace, Zillow, Apartments.com, Trulia, Craigslist and Facebook rental groups.
They also sought help from the admissions office at the law school. Someone there even checked out a place for them in person, Friesen said. The couple also found fake listings that were set to steal information or money fraudulently. The listings that were real in the Portland area were out of their price range.
“The cost of housing for a family of five in Portland is absolutely insane,” Friesen said. “There was no way we would be able to afford to live in Portland or even all that close to Portland.”
Out of all the people she reached out to, she got three responses and two offers. The family chose a place that was affordable and a good fit in Gardiner that they found through Zillow. Gardiner is in Kennebec County near Augusta, but it lies on Interstate 295 only about a 50-minute drive to Maine’s largest city.
Friesen said she was excited for the move and felt that Missoula seemed similar to Portland. The two have comparable populations and are educational hubs. She is also looking forward to experiencing Portland’s famous food scene — which she suspects is better than that of Missoula — and for the quick access to Boston for concerts.
They won’t have to make too much of a shift in weather. It gets a little colder here than in Missoula, but not by much.
“I am a little worried about navigating icy cobblestone,” Friesen said. “But I’m sure I can find the right shoes.”