Do Mainers Really Hate People “From Away”?
As long as I can remember there’s always been a running joke about people from away, or PFA’s as we’d often say growing up. Or flatlanders, a phrase taught to me by my grandparents. Typically this would be more in reference to the tourists as I grew up in the very touristy area of Damariscotta, or simply the “summer people” that live here 3 months out of the year. Now that I’m an adult I see these terms being applied to those that move here from away as well.
“Be grateful for how wealthy Maine is and how much money is brought into your state from other areas across the country/world.”
Every day on the r/Maine and r/portlandmaine subreddits there’s inevitably a post from someone looking to move here and are then met with a level of rudeness or even hostility from some locals.
Or there’s a post from someone who lives here complaining about those coming here. This has led some users into saying that Mainers are rude and entitled to those from away.
Recently u/Art_Vandelay 867 addressed their disdain for the attitude of Mainers noting at the end of their post, “Be grateful for how wealthy Maine is and how much money is brought into your state from other areas across the country/world.” which struck a particular chord with users.
Nothing I say here is new. Most of my sentiments are echoed by other Redditors, and yes, experiences may vary. Especially when considering the differences between southern, central, northern, western, midcoast, and Downeast Maine.
It's Not That Serious, Unless It Is
Most of the time when Mainers are ragging on people from away, it’s done in jest. For myself at the very least, if I’m giving you crap about something, that means I like you and am comfortable enough to have some fun and joke with you. Or I’ll be in my car grumbling to myself about the crazy drivers or traffic caused by the infamous people from away.
What we don’t like is watching the erosion of our way of life because people with money and influence decided to move here.
In another post that has since been deleted by the OP, one commenter, u/QuirkyLetter3215 seemed to hit the nail on the head;
“...There is also the property price issue. And the tax issue. And people on the coast in fishing villages being priced out of the towns their families have lived in for generations for the sake of someone’s summer home…
Then there are the people who move here and then try to change town ordinances because they don’t like things like having a farm next door. The right to food bill has squashed that - but the right to food bill is a direct result of Maine’s way of life being a little bit infringed upon by people who didn’t grow up there.
And then you get the self righteous summer home people saying “well we pay for your so-and-so’s with our taxes” - which is very very nasty. And judgemental.
If you move to Maine and you’re a decent person and you don’t try to rock the boat and change a community - you’ll be fine…”
Before deleting their original thoughts and comments I recall this user noting that this shows that Mainers have a sense of entitlement since people have a right to move where they want, buy property they want, have multiple houses, or create at Airbnb, and they have the right to pursue legislation as they see fit. And they’re correct.
But are they right? That’s where it’s a gray area. Right or wrong it’s up for discussion but I think it’s important to recognize that the Maine way of life is a culture. When you encounter a culture that is different than the one you’re used to, you don’t try to change it. There are endless examples of this very thing all throughout history. Especially in ways that mess with people’s livelihoods. The desire to change a way of life is what some Redditors argued was the true entitlement.
We aren’t a particularly wealthy state. According to USA Today, we rank 31st for median household income at $56,277. An income that can hardly afford most homes these days.
Mainers are struggling and it’s impacting our economy. Like the user above mentioned, fishermen and lobstermen are struggling to live in the coastal towns their family has lived in for generations.
Despite being a massive employer with great pay and benefits, Bath Iron Works is struggling to find workers because there aren’t any homes or apartments available within a reasonable commute.
Portland’s restaurant scene is struggling because the hospitality field traditionally attracted those that lived downtown that could easily walk or take public transportation to work. Now it’s not worth the commute or price of parking.
It’s difficult to not be bitter when it comes to those situations.
So all in all I would say no, we don’t hate those that are from away, but Mainers have a lot of pride in what we are and sometimes feel threatened or are already jaded by the loss of some aspect of “The Way Life Should Be.”