U.S. News names Portland a best place to live in America

The editors of U.S. News & World Report have made it official: Maine’s largest city is among the best places to live in America.

A photo of the Old Port skyline in Portland.
“For the people of Maine, there is only one Portland,” write the editors of U.S. News & World Report. “Maine’s largest metro area and economic hub features cobblestone streets and ships sheltered within the island-specked waters of Casco Bay.”

U.S. News & World Report ranked Portland, Maine, the eighth-best place to live among the 150 most populous cities in the U.S., the safest place to live in the country, the ninth-best place to live for quality of life, and the 33rd best place to retire.

The high national rankings come as no surprise to USM President Glenn Cummings (below), who has lived within walking distance of the University’s Portland campus for more than 30 years.

A photo of USM President Glenn Cummings.

“Our host community of Portland is at the cultural and economic heart of the great state of Maine,” Cummings said. “With our close proximity to the historic Old Port, Portland’s beautiful coastline, its many innovative businesses and companies that employ our graduates, and the city’s vibrant arts scene, it’s not just a great place to live. It’s an outstanding place to learn and earn a college degree. As a parent and longtime resident of Portland, I can also say that it’s a wonderful place to raise a family.”

Portland’s high U.S. News & World Report rankings come at the same time USM will welcome its largest incoming class of students in fall 2021 — fueled by a 33% increase in out-of-state students over 2020 and 26 percent over the previous peak in 2018.

Jared Cash, Vice President of Enrollment and Marketing, says many of Portland’s virtues also make USM a top choice for students.

“Because of everything Portland offers, we can provide students with unmatched opportunities for internships and jobs as well as many of the things that students tell us they are looking for: strong academics, fun places to eat and gather, and beautiful places to recreate,” Cash said.

Living in Portland is not without its challenges. The editors of U.S. News & World Report note that everything that makes the city highly desirable also contributes to its shortage of affordable housing.

That’s one reason the University has broken ground on the 580-bed Portland Commons residence hall adjacent to a new Career & Student Success Center and one-acre campus quad. Scheduled to open in June of 2023, the first residence hall on USM’s Portland Campus will provide undergraduate and graduate students as well as University of Maine School of Law students with affordable housing within walking distance of the city’s picturesque Back Cove area and many of its restaurants, shops, and businesses.

An architect's rendering of the Portland Commons residence hall.
An architect’s rendering of the multilevel, 580-bed Portland Commons residence hall as seen from Bedford Street.

The Portland Commons residence hall has been designed and is being built to achieve Passive House Certification, one of the most aggressive green building standards in the world for energy and indoor air quality. Once completed, it will use 50% less energy than a building without Passive House construction of comparable size. Portland Commons is on track to be the second-largest Passive House construction of any university building in the U.S. and the seventh-largest Passive House construction of any type in the nation.

“Building the Portland Commons residence hall achieves two vital goals for USM: developing affordable, on-campus housing for our students and creating sustainable campus buildings on the leading edge of environmental best practices,” Cummings said. “As a longtime resident of the city and an educational leader of its public university, I couldn’t be more proud that Portland has received this much-deserved recognition.”