Early last year, I wrote about escapist fantasies of owning a country house in Spain. This year, A, our baby, and I were able to take our first vacation in two and a half years, and we decided to visit Portland, Maine.
I chose Portland for the proximity to NYC yet distance away from NYC crowds, the relaxing beaches, because we’d both been curious about what the rest of the northeast was like, because of Stephen King novels set in Maine, specifically that signature creepy-cozy vibe, because a few lifestyle bloggers (ok, one blogger, Soulemama, guilty pleasure) of whom I’ve been a longtime reader live near Portland, and:
Because it seemed like an affordable, pleasant, pretty place to live. No escapist fantasies necessary.
The Blissful, Domestic, All-American Dream
I could imagine a life with myself, A, our daughter and potential future kids, living in an old downtown Portland loft or a cozy little three-bedroom house, working at small companies in creative industries, maybe a little side business for extra cash. Our kids would be safe and provided for, in good public schools while we squirreled away money to help with college. We wouldn’t be wealthy but we wouldn’t feel the wolf breathing down our necks like we do in NYC. We’d be comfortable. We’d have a yard. A charming wood-burning stove. I’d have a lovely garden full of flowers and vegetables. I could go to the seashore when I needed a little nourishment of the soul to watch the roiling waters. I’d spend all winter knitting, baking, and roasting. I’d make a few friends with other moms with kids my kids’ ages. A would get three big dogs and write a lot while the kids and the dogs played outside.
A feasible dream. Very doable! If we wanted, we could probably fulfill this dream by the time baby girl started kindergarten, perfect timing.
Fuel for the fire
In Brooklyn, we can sort of afford a one-bedroom apartment and daycare at the same time. Renting a two-bedroom would be barely doable. Actually buying a condo, much less a house, with more than one bedroom is a distant and unattainable dream.
With a few years’ scrimping and saving, at our current income level, we could reasonably put together a down payment of 10-20% for something in the $200-300K range. In Brooklyn, that would afford us a one-bedroom condo in a cheap neighborhood. In Portland, that would get us a whole house. And a really nice house, at that.
East End, Portland. 5 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom – Up and coming neighborhood, beautiful and unique architecture, tons of space, so cheap. Yes, please.
Scarborough, ME. 5 bedroom, 2 bathroom. Classic, beautiful, just a little creepy in a good way. Cheap. Fixer-upper, but worth it?
Back Cove, Portland. “The authenticity of yesteryear. Beauty infused w/color and creative collaboration of old and new-wood floors, tin ceiling, huge original windows w/old glass, tall ceilings and more. … When at home enjoy the screened porch and open front porch, perennial gardens, sit in the yard and listen to the wind rustle the leaves or sit by the firepit. Contentment, peace, and joy…guaranteed.” Totally doable, and that description…
Gorham, ME. 6 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms. Out in the country. Total creepy-cozy vibe, massive, and massively affordable.
East End, Portland. 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom. A comparative splurge, but lofted ceilings, renovations, and gorgeous old industrial architecture make it covetable.