Cost of Living Forum

MaineResident22 @maineresident22
Joined: 4 months ago

Moving to Bangor – What are the Living Costs Like?

I’ve been living in Bangor for over 20 years now, but I’m considering relocating for a new job opportunity. Before I make a decision, I’m wondering if any of you can provide a realistic breakdown of living costs in the Bangor area? I’d appreciate estimates for major expenses like housing, groceries, utilities, transportation, healthcare, and entertainment.

Some context about my situation – I’m married with two school-aged kids. We currently own a 3-bedroom house and have two cars. We live a pretty typical middle-class lifestyle, dining out occasionally, going to movies, etc. But we also try to save money where we can. I make around $65K per year, and my spouse doesn’t work outside the home right now. Any insights you can share would be really helpful as I weigh this decision. Thanks in advance!

Posts: 3

10 Replies

BangorGal89 @bangorgal89
Joined: 2 years ago

Hey MaineResident22, as someone who has lived in Bangor my whole life, I can give you a decent overview of the cost of living here. Housing is probably the biggest expense – a 3-bedroom apartment or house in a decent neighborhood will likely run you $1,200-$1,600 per month, whether renting or with a mortgage payment. Utilities like electric, heat, water tend to be around $250-$350 per month for a place that size.

Groceries are pretty reasonable if you shop at places like Hannaford or Walmart. A family of 4 can probably get by on $600-$800 per month for food, depending on your habits. Eating out is cheaper than many cities, with a casual meal for 4 usually $40-$60. Entertainment is affordable too – $9 for a movie ticket, $40-$50 per month for something like a gym membership.

The biggest pros are no city income tax, lower housing costs than Boston/Portland, and good public schools. Cons are winter heating costs, lack of public transit, and having to drive everywhere. Traffic isn’t too bad though. Overall it’s a relatively low cost of living for a decent middle-class lifestyle if your income is $65K+. Let me know if you need any other specifics!

Posts: 18
PenobscotPro @penobscotpro
Joined: 2 years ago

I agree with BangorGal89’s overview for the most part, but I think she may be underestimating some of the costs, especially housing. We just renewed the lease on our 3-bed apartment last month and it went up to $1,800 per month – granted, it’s in a newer complex, but still. The rental market here has gotten pretty crazy lately.

Owning would probably be cheaper, but the mortgage + taxes + insurance on something decent is likely $1,500-$2,000 per month at today’s prices. Groceries for a family could easily be $800-$1,000 too in my experience, unless you’re really strict about budgeting.

Utilities seem to track with BangorGal89’s estimate, maybe $300ish per month for a family’s electric, heat, etc. And you’re definitely going to need two cars here unless you live/work downtown. Gas, insurance, maintenance, probably $500-$600 per month if you have a couple relatively new, efficient vehicles.

Entertainment is cheap if you stick to movies, parks, libraries. But if you want to do activities like skiing, golfing, concerts, it can add up quickly. Overall, I’d budget around $4,000 per month for a reasonably comfortable lifestyle here with a couple kids. The lack of state income tax helps, but Bangor isn’t as low cost as some other areas of Maine in my opinion. Those are just my two cents though!

Posts: 20
BoystonNative @boystonnative
Joined: 4 months ago

As someone who moved to Bangor from the Boston area a few years ago, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the relatively low cost of living here. Housing is WAY cheaper – I went from paying $2,500 for a tiny 2-bed apartment in Boyston to $1,300 for a nice 3-bed rental house here. It’s crazy what you can get for your money.

Groceries seem pretty average, maybe $600-$700 per month for my family of 3. Restaurants and entertainment are an absolute steal compared to Boston prices. A decent meal out is like $40 rather than $80-$100. Movies, bowling, mini golf, all very affordable.

Utilities do spike in winter with heating costs, that’s probably my biggest gripe. But no income tax makes up for that a bit. Other monthly bills like cable/internet, cell phones, no difference really.

The lower housing costs have allowed me to save so much more than I could in Boston. My $65K salary goes a lot further here without the crazy rent prices. My company does have a office here though, so I didn’t have to take a pay cut moving from Mass. I’d say go for it if you can make a similar income!

Posts: 8
DownEastDana @downeastdana
Joined: 2 years ago

As a single person living in Bangor, I find the costs very reasonable overall. My rent for a decent 1-bed apartment downtown is $950 including most utilities. Groceries maybe $300-$400 per month if I’m being sensible. Going out to bars on the weekends probably adds another $200-$300.

I don’t have a car, so there’s no big transportation expense there. Just having to take an Uber here and there if I’m going somewhere not walkable. Healthcare premiums are steep at $450/month for a mid-tier plan through my job. But copays, prescriptions, etc. seem in line with national averages.

The lack of income tax is huge for me at this income level, probably saves me $4K-$5K per year over somewhere like NH or Boston. Biggest downsides in my opinion are the winters and having to drive to any bigger city for certain amenities/events. But I make it work comfortably on around $55K per year here. It’s an affordable place if you’re single and frugal!

Posts: 7
FranklinFam @franklinfam
Joined: 5 months ago

I think previous posters have given a decent overview, but costs can vary quite a bit depending on your personal situation and lifestyle preferences. We’re a family of 5 (2 adults, 3 kids under 12), and I’d peg our total housing/utilities/transportation/insurance/healthcare/groceries/basic expenses at around $6,000 per month.

That includes our $2,100 mortgage payment on a 4-bedroom house in a nice suburb, plus $600+ for 2 car payments/insurance/gas, $500ish for healthcare premiums and out-of-pocket costs, $1,200 for groceries/household, and probably $400-$500 for utilities. And we haven’t even factored in anything for dining out, activities, etc!

We do pay for premium internet/cable TV, unlimited data plans for all the devices, kids’ activities and all that stuff. So if you’re a bigger family with kids and want to live an upper middle class lifestyle in Bangor, I’d say you need a household income of $100K+ to do it relatively comfortably without going into debt.

The housing market here has gotten super competitive too. We paid $315K for our place 3 years ago and similar homes are going for $400K+ now. Inventory is very low. Cost of living is still lower than many metros for sure, but Bangor isn’t necessarily “cheap” if you want to live large. Just my two cents as a long-time resident!

Posts: 21
SavvySarah @savvysarah
Joined: 9 months ago

One aspect I haven’t seen mentioned yet is the cost of healthcare here compared to somewhere with more provider competition. We have decent insurance through my husband’s job, but the costs can still be really high for anything beyond basic primary care.

For example, my younger son needed surgery last year to get his tonsils out. Even with our $5,000 deductible family plan, we ended up paying over $8,000 out-of-pocket when all was said and done between hospital fees, anesthesia costs, etc. The options are really limited unless you’re willing to travel hours to Portland or Boston.

Same thing with specialists for certain conditions – very few choices, higher rates, lots of extra travel time/costs. That can make the overall cost of living higher than you’d think, especially for families.

I’d also caution about the costs of heating in the winter. Our old drafty house with baseboard heaters used to cost us $400+ per month just in heating oil/electric bills during the coldest months. It really adds up! Just some other factors to keep in mind beyond the core housing/food/transportation budgets.

Posts: 24
FitnessGuy @fitnessguy
Joined: 2 years ago

For people interested in an active, healthy lifestyle, I think Bangor can be a relatively affordable option in that regard. There are quite a few decent gyms/fitness centers with monthly rates in the $40-$60 range. Even the bougie places like YMCA and Rec center are under $100/month if you’re a resident.

Outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, etc are basically free aside from gear/equipment costs. There are a ton of great trail systems and waterways within a short drive. Downhill skiing is pricier but places like Hermon Mountain are way cheaper than the big resorts – $50ish for a lift ticket vs $100+.

Road biking clubs, running groups, rec sports leagues are super affordable too if you want to get involved. Even things like golf, with annual memberships at municipal courses usually $1,000 or less which isn’t terrible.

My wife and I probably spend $150-$200 per month being very active, plus another $200 or so on gear/apparel each year. But we really take advantage of all the affordable outdoor adventure this area has to offer. It’s a great place for outdoor enthusiasts!

Posts: 1
RetiredInBangor @retiredinbangor
Joined: 2 years ago

As someone on a fixed retirement income, I find Bangor to be quite affordable compared to where I moved from down south. My basic monthly expenses run about $3,200 – that’s $1,300 for my mortgage, $350 for property taxes/insurance, $600 for utilities/cable/internet, $500 for groceries, $200 for my truck payment/gas, and $250 for healthcare costs.

On top of that, I probably spend another $500 per month on misc expenses like dining out, entertainment, travel, etc. But I’m still able to manage on my $4,500 monthly pension/social security income and not dip too far into my retirement savings.

The lack of state income tax is huge, and the property taxes are very reasonable compared to other areas I looked at like Florida or the Carolinas. Medical costs seem to be a bit higher with fewer provider options, but that’s the trade-off I suppose.

My neighborhood is safe, I don’t have any crazy homeowners association fees, and there are plenty of affordable activities to keep me busy. All in all, Bangor has been a great place for me to spend my retirement years while keeping costs down.

Posts: 18
BrokeStudentBangor @brokestudentbangor
Joined: 4 months ago

From the perspective of a broke college student here, the cost of living in Bangor is actually pretty manageable if you’re smart about it! Obviously housing is the biggest factor – you’re looking at $500-$800 for a decent 1-bed apartment or to rent a room somewhere. Utilities like internet and electricity can add another $150 or so.

Where it gets affordable is just the general low prices for basics. Groceries $200-$300/month if you shop wisely. Thrift stores and cheap eats galore – you can easily eat out for under $10. Tons of free/cheap entertainment between campus events, parks, hiking, etc. No need to even own a car if you live/work near campus and bus lines.

I get by on my part-time job’s $1,000 per month pay, plus a little help from my folks back home. And that’s with going out to the bars every weekend! If you can snag a decently paid job and split rent with roommates, you could probably live a totally normal lifestyle here on $25K per year or so. Definitely one of the cheaper decent-sized cities in the northeast for students/young people.

Posts: 6
BangorBrian @bangorbrian
Joined: 4 months ago

Having lived here for over a decade, I’d say Bangor offers a relatively affordable lifestyle for middle-class families, but it really depends on your specific situation and expectations. The core expenses can be manageable, but costs start to add up quickly if you want/need certain amenities.

On the plus side, there’s no county or state income tax which is huge. And if you’re strategic, housing and groceries aren’t too crazy. $1,500 should cover a decent 3-bed rental or mortgage. And $800-$1,000 for food is doable if you meal plan and limit dining out.

Utilities will likely run $300-$500 per month depending on your home’s efficiency. Cell/internet is $100-$150. Healthcare is probably the biggest wildcard – budget $500+ per month if you have a family.

Transportation is very car-dependent, so there’s gas, maintenance, insurance to factor in. $500+ for two vehicles. Same goes for extracurriculars like kids’ sports – has to be worked into the budget. Entertaining yourself requires driving to movies, activities, etc.

Overall, I’d recommend being in the $75K+ household income range to live a relatively comfortable, middle-class lifestyle here with a typical family. More is obviously better to save and have flexibility. It’s not dirt cheap, but the lack of income tax helps offset costs if you’re strategic with your spending!

Posts: 4

Detailed Price Insights of Abilene, TX

  • Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant – 15.00 $
  • Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course – 70.00 $
  • McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal) – 11.00 $
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) – 5.50 $
  • Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) – 5.50 $
  • Cappuccino (regular) – 5.36 $
  • Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter bottle) – 2.50 $
  • Water (0.33 liter bottle) – 2.37 $
  • Milk (regular), (1 liter) – 1.05 $
  • Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g) – 3.89 $
  • Rice (white), (1kg) – 1.88 $
  • Eggs (regular) (12) – 2.00 $
  • Local Cheese (1kg) – 5.51 $
  • Chicken Fillets (1kg) – 6.78 $
  • Beef Round (1kg) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat) – 11.02 $
  • Apples (1kg) – 5.50 $
  • Banana (1kg) – 1.17 $
  • Oranges (1kg) – 8.99 $
  • Tomato (1kg) – 11.83 $
  • Potato (1kg) – 0.98 $
  • Onion (1kg) – 6.15 $
  • Lettuce (1 head) – 2.34 $
  • Water (1.5 liter bottle) – 1.50 $
  • Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) – 13.50 $
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle) – 1.73 $
  • Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) – 3.55 $
  • Cigarettes 20 Pack (Marlboro) – 6.99 $
  • One-way Ticket (Local Transport) – 1.50 $
  • Gasoline (1 liter) – 0.91 $
  • Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car) – 23,000.00 $
  • Toyota Corolla Sedan 1.6l 97kW Comfort (Or Equivalent New Car) – 33,001.29 $
  • Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment – 200.00 $
  • Mobile Phone Monthly Plan with Calls and 10GB+ Data – 47.83 $
  • Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL) – 70.00 $
  • Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult – 47.00 $
  • Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat – 9.00 $
  • 1 Pair of Jeans (Levis 501 Or Similar) – 44.50 $
  • 1 Summer Dress in a Chain Store (Zara, H&M, …) – 40.00 $
  • 1 Pair of Nike Running Shoes (Mid-Range) – 90.00 $
  • 1 Pair of Men Leather Business Shoes – 129.00 $
  • Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre – 1,400.00 $
  • Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment in City Centre – 1,862.00 $
  • Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment Outside of Centre – 1,862.00 $
  • Average Monthly Net Salary (After Tax) – 5,076.11 $
  • Mortgage Interest Rate in Percentages (%), Yearly, for 20 Years Fixed-Rate – 6.53
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