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Bar Harbor, Maine

On the rugged, scenic mid-coast of Maine, enchanting Bar Harbor ("Bah Habah") has been a shipbuilding and fishing hub for years. It oozes maritime charm and its eye-popping views of the Atlantic and nearby islands instill a sense of wonder.

The very touristy downtown brims with eclectic shops, lobster eateries and art galleries on narrow, hilly streets. Pleasure craft bob in the marina, and beautiful B&Bs, once the homes of sea captains and industry magnates, sit atop cliffs overlooking the sea. The College of the Atlantic is here, too, adding a bit of an academic vibe.

Leafy neighborhoods are stocked with stately Cape Cods and shabby-chic Victorians. Well-to-do Easterners began arriving here in the mid-1800s, and even today, families named Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and Astor have homes in the area.

Sumptuous Acadia National Park is just outside of town and has a small beach. When the fog rolls in, as it often does, Bar Harbor feels as it must have years ago, when lobstermen plied their trade and tall ships set sail for adventure.

Cost of Living

Bar Harbor has an overall cost of living 17% higher than the national average.

The median household income is $66,590.

Real Estate

The median home price is $445,000. This is a 12% increase over the previous year. For comparison, the national median home price is currently $363,000.

Estimates are that Bar Harbor real estate prices will increase by 2% over the next year.

The median rental price is $1,850 per month.


Bar Harbor has 5,800 residents and has grown by 3% during the last decade.

The median age is 45. For comparison, the median age of the U.S. population is 38.

MDI Hospital is the local medical center.

The crime rate meets the national average.

Tourists love Bar Harbor, and they arrive via car and cruise ship from May through September.


The sales tax rate is 5.5%.

Maine does not tax Social Security, but it does tax all other forms of retirement income at rates between 5.8% to 7.15%, depending on annual income. The state offers a $10,000 retirement income exemption, but that exemption is reduced in an amount equal to one's annual Social Security benefit.

The average effective property tax rate (the annual tax payment as a percentage of median home value) in Bar Harbor is 1%. The annual taxes on a $445,000 home are approximately $4,450.

Mortgages for Retirees

As people live longer and mortgage rates are at historic lows, more and more retired folks are considering obtaining a mortgage rather than paying cash for a new home. You are never "too old" to get a mortgage, thanks to the Equal Opportunity Credit Act, as long as you have the means to do so.

Having said that, retirees face some unique challenges when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage. Most mortgage lenders will look at the same criteria as they would for a young first time homebuyer, including your credit history, debt to income ratio and monthly income. The good news is that Social Security benefits and distributions from 401(k)s, IRAs, and other retirement accounts count as income.

However, because retirement accounts become depleted over time they have a defined expiration date. As a result, a mortgage lender will want to know that the distribution income will continue for at least three years after the date of the mortgage application.

It is also important to keep in mind that if your retirement accounts consist of stocks, bonds, or mutual funds or other "volitle" investments, mortgage lenders will only use 70% of the value in the retirement accounts to determine your mortgage qualifcation.

And while Social Security counts as income, if you are drawing on a family member’s record, such as survivor benefits or spousal benefits, then the income must be documented as payable for at least three years from the mortgage application date.

If you cannot qualify for a traditional mortgage, then a reverse mortgage might be an option. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also have programs that can make home buying easier. Check with a reverse mortgage lender or these goverment agencies to see loans and programs available to you.



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