Portland ranks last for population growth in the region

The city of Portland’s population continues to stagnate even as its suburbs expand rapidly, according to an analysis of Bangor Daily News data.

Of the 34 Portland metro communities for which the US Census Bureau recently released population figures for 2021, the city of Portland ranked last in growth since 2020, losing 100 residents.

But in Greater Portland – known as Metro Portland – suburbs have grown significantly with hundreds of thousands of new residents in recent years, exacerbated by the growing unavailability and inaccessibility of housing in the city. city ​​itself.

While there are more expensive communities than the city of Portland, including Kennebunkport, Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth, the vast majority of cities in the Portland metro area are cheaper, according to May data from Zillow.

Many of these communities see a lot of new immigration, including Westbrook (where the typical house is $94,000 cheaper than in Portland), Biddeford ($72,000 less), Gorham ($56,000 less) Saco, ($46,000 less) Brunswick ($43,000 less), South Portland ($31,000 less) and Wells ($28,000 less).

“As the cost of housing has increased dramatically in Portland, Westbrook has been an affordable alternative to housing in the area,” Westbrook Mayor Michael Foley said.

New residents include both people moving from other parts of Maine and people from out of state looking to settle in the Portland area, he said.

They have been helped in their search for housing by the development of many new homes in Westbrook, nearly 2,000 homes from 2001 to 2021, according to Foley.

While the ratio of Portland residents to non-Portland residents in the Metro has been declining for nearly a century, today it is at its lowest since modern county boundaries began around 1860 when James Buchanan was president. . Only 12% of Portland’s metro residents now live in the city itself.

This means that while people likely have myriad economic, social, or family ties to Portland, nearly nine out of ten area residents do not live in Portland itself.

The places seeing the most new residents are South Portland (500 new residents), Scarborough (430), Saco (290) and Eliot (240).

Eliot actually had the strongest percentage growth by far from 2020 to 2021, according to Census Bureau figures, with its population growing by 4%.

Like many of Portland’s other southern suburbs, it has the added appeal of being close to both regional giant Boston and Maine’s largest city.

Previously, Ogunquit had the highest population growth of any metropolitan Portland community of more than 100 people from 2010 to 2020. The influx of people was partly due to its access to Portland (38 miles) and Boston (77 miles), according to choose the chairman of the board Heath Ouellette.

Portland’s status also makes it regionally unique: of the largest metropolitan areas in each of the six New England states, most have a much higher rate of residents living in the base city itself.

Even Boston, known for its densely populated suburbs, has 14% of its residents living in the city itself. And 27% of the residents of the Manchester Metro – the second largest metro in northern New England in Portland – live in the city.

While the suburbs take advantage of many’s desire to live just outside of Portland, it remains to be seen if Portland will continue to expand.

Foley expects Westbrook to see 1,000 to 2,000 additional housing units in the coming years as it continues to grow. It’s a more optimistic outlook than ever for the community amid a housing shortage, he said.

“It hasn’t been too overwhelming – an average of 100 units a year,” Foley said, referring to growth in recent years. “The community was really able to digest it.”