In defense of Maine,
the seasons are wonderful, I love fall the best. As far as winters go and what to expect, well, you never know. It doesnt seem like we have had much snow at all this winter, but last year was brutal!! Commuting in the snow isnt all that bad, take it slow and easy, four wheel drive and/or snow tires help. Portland isnt the only place to live, either. Yes we are horribly and ridiculously taxed. I cant defend that for a second. Having lived in Tucson AZ and Massachesetts, all I can say is, I wouldnt raise my children any other place. It isnt that we dont have crime, but compared to what I saw in Tucson and Mass, we got nothing on them!! My own personal theory is that gangs need somewhere to hang out, and in Maine, there is noplace outside in the winter that works!
There are small towns in Maine where you can find nice places to rent/buy, like any other place there are good and bad areas in all the towns. Old Orchard Beach, for example, has nice neighborhoods, and seedy honky-tonk areas, and it is a tourist town in the summer. It also has 7 miles of beach 10 minutes away from whereever you live there. Saco is another town that is nice and still close to the beach. As far as skiing goes, you have to drive to get to it, depending on which mountain you choose, can be 45 minutes or a 2 hour drive. I have friends with season passes that go every weekend, no matter what the weather. If there isnt enough snow, they make their own. It depends on the winter, we didnt have much snow this year, I dont think. I agree with the previous poster about our pay rates, but I dont have enough experience to say much more than that. (I graduate in May)
New Hampshire is supposed to have low tax rates, maybe you should check that out. All I know is, I love Maine, and will be staying till my children graduate from school, then I want to be a travel nurse and see America.
Oh, yeah, and I have a garden every year. There are some things that we cant grow as easy, but I have my tomatoes, cukes, sunflowers and daisies every year, and it makes me SO happy.
Good luck in your search!