Top-ranked Hampden Academy. Go Broncos! Photograph courtesy of the town of Hampden.
Best Places to Live in Maine: Hampden
A Bangor bedroom community with an A+ school system.
Ask Hampden-ites what brought them to town and plenty will credit the school district, which has ranked for years among the state’s best. It’s what lured Shelby Wright and her daughter up from North Carolina some 15 years ago. Today, Wright’s serving her third (non-consecutive) term on the town council and is an unabashed Hampden cheerleader. “We have a wonderful community of very active and engaged citizens and residents,” she says, “from working-class to retired folks and everyone in between. It’s a town that’s developed but not overdeveloped, so you really have space to breathe.”
Ranked Maine’s second-safest town, Hampden has lower-than-median housing prices and a largely rural feel, with a few nice parks along the Penobscot River. Meanwhile, all the stores, restaurants, and service-y amenities of Bangor are just up the road. “Everything is 20 minutes away,” Wright says, including Bucksport, Brewer, and Winterport. “The proximity is there, but I don’t suffer from light pollution at my house. I have a wonderful view of the night sky.”