Although many seniors would not consider the coast of Maine to be the ideal retirement spot, picturesque Camden, Maine offers may retirees just what they are seeking: a small seaport with an abundance of New England charm, a beautiful waterfront setting, plenty of outdoor recreation and a friendly atmosphere.
Settled in 1769, Camden retains much of its 18th century flavor. Over the years, it has been a hub for boat building and tourism. Camden is considered expensive, but many retirees don’t mind paying a little bit more to live in such a storybook harbor town. More than 30% of Camden’s residents are age 55 or older and many have been drawn to the town for its boating and skiing opportunities. Approximately 5,000 people call Camden home; many of its retirees had previously lived along the Eastern seaboard and were familiar with Camden’s reputation as a quaint coastal community with beautifully restored Victorian homes and breathtaking ocean views. Numerous passenger schooners offering summer sails up and down the Maine coast are anchored here, and Camden is home port to several boating events each summer.
Nestled on Penobscott Bay at the foot of the Camden Hills, Camden is about 60 miles north of Portland, Maine and an hour south of Bangor, Maine (a delightful, but crowded, tourist town). With such a northern location, the winters can get cold, although they are less so than in other parts of Maine. Heavy accumulations of snow do not occur, however, thanks to the warming effects of the Atlantic. Most retirees here feel that the stunning annual autumn scenery outweighs any downside of the cold winters.
Not far from town is Camden Hills State Park; this 5,000 acre state park sits at the foot of Mt. Battie and provides plenty of picnicking, cross-country skiing and wildlife watching.
There are a few drawbacks to Camden, including that no large department store is nearby, and in the summer, tourists flock to town tripling the town’s population in June, July and August. Opportunities for seniors are plentiful, however, and include volunteering with the Longstreet Society, an historic preservation organization, and for Habitat for Humanity, a group that builds homes for lower-income folks. And for relaxation, a sack lunch on the hill in front of the library overlooking the harbor can’t be beat!
Climate: Maine has no spring, and Camden is no exception. Average January high is 32 degrees, and the low is 15 degrees. Average high summer temperature is 75 degrees, and the low is 55 degrees. The area receives 45 inches of rain and 35 inches of snow a year. Humidity averages 60%.
Cost-of-Living: Slightly above the national average.
Health Care: Penobscott Bay Medical Center is located here and is a full service hospital with more than 100 beds.
Housing: Average house cost is $160,000. Areas popular with retirees, such as Lily Pond Drive and Chestnut Street, have homes starting for sale at around $190,000 (and prices can go considerably higher). Rentals are limited, but there are two subsidized senior housing projects, Highland Park and Megunticook House.
Safety: Crime is below the national average with 37 crimes per 1,000 population.
Taxes: The state sales tax is 6%. The state income tax is graduated from 2% to 8.5%. Property tax is 12.9% per $1,000 assessed value. Social security is not taxed.
Contact: Rockport-Camden-Lincolnville Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 919, Camden, Maine 04842 (207) 236-4404.