We have been renting a cottage in Bayside in the summer for four years and love the area. Love the cooler summers and fresh air. We are considering retiring to Belfast. The price of the real estate is so tempting, and the housing stock seems excellent--many Victorian and turn-of-the-century houses, which is what I want. I like the little book shops, the quilting and knitting shops, the galleries, Chase's Daily, the farmers market. I am glad there is the Senior College and the art center--I'm sure I'd partake of both. Also glad there's an Episcopal Church.
What would I miss about Boston? Our fabulous public library in Copley Square. The park system, the Emerald Necklace, Jamaica Pond five minutes from our home. Living a car-free life, using public transportation, walking, and Zipcar. Our beautiful condo in a c.1910 building with beautiful woodwork, tall bow-front windows, two walk-in pantries, and the kitchen, bath, and built-in bookcases I designed. The history and architecture of the city. The Copley Square Farmers Market. Several Whole Foods markets in the area. All the colleges and universities and the vast array of adult education opportunities. World-class hospitals. The proximity to the airport for my trips to England. Train service to Rockport (MA), where I used to live. Great historic towns like Concord and Marblehead in the area. There's a lot that I would miss.
I don't need Starbucks, although I wish Belfast had more little cafes. I don't want the NY Times delivered, but I would miss the easy availability in Boston of English interiors magazines, which I like much better than the American ones. Good take-out would be nice; I do like the Rockport Marketplace. I haven't found a good source of croissants in Belfast. The Coop is nice, but it can't touch Whole Foods.
I am torn between Boston and small town life. I lived for ten years in Rockport, MA, so I know what it's like to live in a peaceful, beautiful, seaside New England town. I think I want this again for my retirement years, but I also think the city is a good place for older people because of not needing a car, good elderly services, and hospitals.
What would make it easier to make the transition to Maine? It would be easier if we could buy a cottage without having to sell our Boston condo, so we could try out Maine living without making a total commitment. I know we should visit Maine in other seasons besides summer before we decide. I love winter, so I'm not put off by the idea of the Maine winter, but I don't know what the mood is like in Belfast in the winter. I probably should go to a service at the Episcopal church and see if I think I'd fit in. That's one of the most important questions and hardest to answer ahead of time: would this town feel like a community I could belong to?
I hope this answer isn't too long. It's a very interesting question that you asked.