The federal government says Maine isn’t the most desirable place to call home

The United States Department of Agriculture in the 1990s came up with a metric for deciding which counties were — essentially — the nicest. It’s called the natural amenities scale and it looks like this in map form:


As you can see, Maine doesn’t fare so well — which you might find odd considering it’s known for its natural beauty.

The Washington Post recently put together a great interactive map that allows you to hover over each county and see how it rates.

Based on that analysis, Southern California (overrated) and southern Florida (not that great) rate higher than any area of Maine.

It turns out that sunshine is a big deal for people. That’s part of the reason why these places rated so high.

Washington County is the best place in Maine by this measure, ranking 342th out of 3,111 counties.

Here is what the federal government uses to judge a place:

  • how warm winter is
  • how much winter sun a place gets
  • how temperate its summer is
  • whether it has low humidity in the summer
  • variation in topography
  • the area covered by water

It chose those in part because they “reflect environmental qualities most people prefer.”

The feds and I disagree about what makes a place livable. I require good fishing, bitter winters with which to fuel my moral superiority and the ability to get away from people by driving only 10 minutes.

What do you look for?

Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who moved to Portland in 2002 and now lives in Unity. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.