On our show, we've talked about "how" to retire, we've talked about some of the "why" reasons people retire, "who" they want to spend their time with, but we haven't talked about "where"....until now. For today's episode (#24), we invited Cary Weston of the Marketing & PR Agency, Sutherland & Weston, to talk to us about why retirees should consider retiring to the Bangor area. What are the crucial elements retirees are looking for in a place when they retire? What are some elements of Bangor that would help lead some of us to retire better there? Cary's past experience on the Bangor City Council and Mayor helps us navigate these questions and more, so make sure to check out this latest episode! (Cary even spins a Stephen King story and points out some things that Bangor natives might not even know!)
What You'll Learn In This Podcast Episode:
On this episode of The Retirement Success in Maine Podcast, the team begins their journey throughout the state of Maine, highlighting local communities and their potential to be a landing spot for retirees.First on the list is a community that houses one of Guidance Point’s Offices, Bangor, Maine. Joining the show to discuss all things Bangor, is an active member of community boards, a previous multi-term city councilor, and a former Mayor of Bangor, Cary Weston.
Cary joined the show to answer our pressing questions about retiring in the Bangor area, including “What are some fun things to do in Bangor?” “How robust is the Healthcare infrastructure in the area?” “What kind of community experience will residence feel?” “How expensive is in to live inBangor?” and more! Be sure to tune in to hear Cary’s answers and even some bonus Stephen King stories!
Welcome, Cary! [1:55]
What are some fun things to do if you’re residing in Bangor? [19:18]
How easy is it to access fun things not located in Bangor? [22:05]
Discussion about the Healthcare infrastructure in the Bangor area. [23:19]
What makes people choose Bangor? [29:40]
What kind of community can people look for when they're retiring in Bangor? [34:02]
How does the cost of living and property taxes in Bangor compare to other areas of the state? [37:49]
What housing opportunities are there in Bangor for retirees specifically? [45:33]
Just how bad are the Maine (Bangor) winters? [49:37]
What is Retirement Success for Cary? [53:01]
Ben, Abby, and Curtis wrap-up the episode. [55:42]
Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce
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Ben Smith: Welcome everybody. Good to have you on the Retirement Success In Maine Podcast. My name is Ben Smith. I'm joined by my two co-hosts Abby Doody and Curtis Worcester, the Stephen King and Charlotte Brown to my William Cohen. How are you guys doing today?
Curtis Worcester: Good, Ben.
Abby Doody: Good. How are you, Ben?
Ben Smith: I'm good. I'm good. We're talking about lots of things on the show. And one of the things we wanted to dig into was we've talked about why, we've talked about how, things to do. We've not really talked about where in retirement, right?
Curtis Worcester: True.
Ben Smith: It's been the thing we've just not done. And we just started thinking about, hey, one thing that we want to talk about is, hey, people retiring, it's really good jumping off point to, hey, if I'm going to be in the State of Maine, maybe in Sangerville, or Calais, or Presque Isle, or Portland, or wherever, and I can reconsider things, maybe I reconsider other parts of the state. That was a lot of the things we wanted to bring up, and we thought we would start with Bangor, was one that we wanted to start with.
Ben Smith: I know Curtis and I are in the Bangor area, and of course that's close to home with us. Abby is a Portland native, of course, here. But we wanted to talk about that, is attacking that as an angle. And we want to look for somebody that had maybe unique expertise around Bangor, that really knew the infrastructure here. They really had just a flavor of even just being here, but also like, why do people come here? What draws them here? What structures are in place to help all of that? So we're really excited to have today, this person that is a multi-terms and counselor. He's a former mayor of Bangor.
Ben Smith: He does a lot of advocacy work in the area, and he's a business owner of Sutherland Weston, which is a marketing, PR firm in Bangor as well. We wanted to have Cary Western on, so we reached out. Cary was really gracious to come on. So Cary, thanks for coming out on Retirement Success In Maine Podcast.
Cary Weston: Hey Ben, thanks for having me. Hey Curtis, Abby.
Curtis Worcester: Hello.
Cary Weston: Good to be here.
Abby Doody: Hey.
Cary Weston: I was just thinking about your literary author references coming in. I'm trying to think who I would fit in with, and I think I'm going to go with Dave Barry. I don't take myself out too seriously.
Ben Smith: Oh, okay.
Abby Doody: Oh, nice. That's a good one.
Ben Smith: My family is a big Dave Barry readers over the years. That's a really good one. And it's tough because I was trying to find the famous woman in the Bangor area too, and there's some good ones. Charlotte Brown is an oldie, but for those that don't know, go Google search there. It might be worth a five-minute diversion. So Cary, one that I always start with our guest, is we're talking about, again, why you should consider retiring to Bangor, Maine, but it's also important for them to get to know you, your unique perspective, your expertise here. So love to hear about you and your upbringing and where you grew up. Let's start there.
Cary Weston: Yeah. I haven't traveled far. I've done a full circle. I was born here in Bangor. I'm 47, just for context of what's going on. I was going to say, I graduated from Bangor High in 1990, so I'm trying to turn to find my roots here, and went to the University of Maine. Then, like you do, you get out of town, right? You try to [crosstalk 00:03:40] from the homeland.
Ben Smith: You do.
Cary Weston: I went to the deep South. I actually lived in Portland for a couple of years.
Ben Smith: The other Maine.
Cary Weston: The other Maine, yeah. I ended up working for a company that had me travel a little bit. So I spent some time in Lewiston in Portland, and Windham, and Farmington before coming home. And I'll always come home for girl. So ended up coming back. I've been here back in Bangor. I was gone for about 10 years, eight to 10 years, and then back in Bangor the last, whatever the math is there. It's too late in the day for me for math.
Cary Weston: I'm here in Bangor, three kiddos. I've got a 16 year old, I've got an 11 year old, and a nine year old. My wife, she's a business owner. She's house-call veterinarian. And as you mentioned beforehand, certainly been active in the community. But Bangor is where I was born, in Bangor where I'm at, at the moment. And I don't see anything changing in the near future.
Ben Smith: Cary, I know, and this has been a lot of the main guests that we've had on, there's usually a gravity, as you said, about the deep South. There's the gravity to pull you out, as in Bangor, and you're a younger kid, and you're thinking about all the possibilities outside of this area, and you get this gravity to go somewhere else. But then you came back. Can you talk about like why Maine? Not just Bangor, but obviously just why have you stayed here?
Cary Weston: Well, if I'm being honest, the word is humidity. I can't stand humidity, so I've stayed here. But it's who I am. You don't understand the value of what's around you when you're young, because your perspective is different and your context is different, and you certainly want to be anywhere but where you're at, and everything's better and different on the other side of the fence. But over the last 10 years, specifically, I'll tell you that with business opportunities and whatnot, I've certainly seen more of the country than I've ever seen before. And it's not true that things are better the further away you get from home.
Cary Weston: And so, I end up seeing the advantages through different eyes. It's not just the weather, it's not just the humidity. I mean, there's neighborhood feels, there's comfortableness, there's the ability to be... I mean, we could spend an hour just on this answer, right?
Ben Smith: Sure.
Cary Weston: But the ability to find yourself in whatever mood you're in, being able access something that keeps you busy and satisfied, I think is probably the best reason I'm here. But most importantly, my family's here, my roots are here. I have a perspective that I've been involved long enough that I've been able to see things from many different perspectives. So that's why I stay, because I think I'm committed to where we're at.
Cary Weston: Now, we may move later, and who knows, but your question was, why do I stay? Why have I been here? I really enjoy it. I really like it. My kids have great things to do. The community is treating me very well. I feel welcomed in here. And I feel anyone that has a mission to either be involved, however you define the word involved, can do so, whatever capacity they choose to do. And I think that comradery and the ability to make a difference in the region is something special, and I think it's what keeps me.
Ben Smith: Nice. Yeah. Can you maybe just shift to the professional end of your life a little bit here?
Cary Weston: Sure.
Ben Smith: Can you talk a little bit about that path towards obviously owning an advertising, marketing, PR firm in Bangor, and what... Obviously, we could go lots of different ways here, but then you've become an entrepreneur and build a really successful agency. So you can talk about that a little bit?
Cary Weston: I can. It happened almost by accident. I actually have an accounting degree, and I have an accounting degree because my dad is an accountant. My dad suggested I should be one too. And since it was his check going to university, I decided to follow that path. I graduated with an accounting degree. They didn't have minors in marketing back then. I took some classes while I was there. This is some of the advice I give to employees now. The good thing about doing certain things and having certain experiences, is sometimes you see exactly what you want, but sometimes you see exactly what you don't want.
Cary Weston: And sometimes learning what you're not and what you don't want to do is almost more valuable than finding out the other answers. And so, I realized that I just wasn't anal enough to be an accountant. That was my true answer. I just couldn't stare at a spreadsheet all day and get really excited about it. I gave it a shot for about three months. All of the folks that I was graduating with in university went on into CPA exams and whatnot, and spent two or three years in conference rooms with boxes of receipts and buying bagels, and that just didn't seem like the future I wanted to jump into.
Cary Weston: I actually went a different path. My first job, you want to talk about professional starts completely different than what you went to school for. My first job outside of gas stations and sandwich shops was working PR for a semi-professional basketball team that was coming to Portland at the time. It eventually, many generations later, the Red Closet here, but it certainly wasn't anywhere near that particular organization at any level. It was bootstraps and vans back then.
Cary Weston: But the path that I took was varied and wide. It was not straight and narrow at all from a logical and focused point of view. So through the years, I've worked in retail. I've worked in rental car agencies. I've certainly worked in sports and did some PR. My dad is his own business owner. He's a public accountant. I'm going to reminisce here for a minute, but it's interesting when you are looking at things as a 22 year old, or even an 18, 19 year old. The things that you put on your checklist of your dream job completely change as you go through the years.
Cary Weston: But back then, it was a leather chair and a business card. Those are the two things that really... I wanted my own business card. I wanted a leather chair that I could call my own. And so, I had a goal to start my own business before I was 30, and that was the definition. I didn't have any other context on that particular goal. I just wanted to start my own business before I was 30. And so, one day, I decided I really enjoyed working problem solving. I enjoyed looking at strategy and development from that point of view. I enjoyed marketing and creativity. And so, it made sense for me to explore this particular avenue.
Cary Weston: I went to work for an ad agency. I walked in, they weren't hiring, and I just sold myself on getting a chance. The reason I did that was I knew I wanted to do something like this, but I had no pedigree. I had no idea how you do it. I have no idea how they do it, and I wanted to see what they knew that I didn't. I found out that a lot of people are just making up as they go as well. And so, they gave me confidence. And so, one day, and this is very pertinent to retirement of the other side of the spectrum, I woke up one day and decided that I was going to be self employed.
Cary Weston: I made that decision on a Friday, and I said, "I'm going to do this." I had a small, small client on the side. It was maybe grocery money at the time. And Monday morning, I remember waking up with the independence of an entrepreneur and knowing that I was self employed, and that lasted about six minutes. And then I realized at minute seven that I was also unemployed. That scares the heck out of you. Nothing motivates you more than not knowing where your next check's [inaudible 00:10:50].
Ben Smith: That's right.
Cary Weston: Luckily, I haven't looked back. There's certainly been milestones, and uncomfortableness, and stretching of comfort zones, and learning curves, and all the wonderful things that comes with being a business owner and trying to feel your way through it. But it's been a good path so far. It's treating me-
Ben Smith: Nice. You guys have just done really great work, even things that people don't know or don't see, but also things that people do see. And I know you guys had a really great... Couple ads I want to throw out is, if you've not seen it, check out the Dysart's ad there, with the couple, that they're trying to nail their lines, the buttery flaky crust. And then the second one, which I just love is... I know we're covering why retire to Bangor, is obviously people that are not from Bangor, especially from the State of Maine, they just never pronounce it correctly. They all say Banger. So you guys did a really great musical on Bangor, is a how to pronounce Bangor. So it was a really-
Cary Weston: On how to pronounce [inaudible 00:11:48].
Ben Smith: Yep. So check it out if it all... We'll give links on the show notes here on YouTube for people to check it out.
Cary Weston: Well, if you've got 30 seconds for a side story-
Ben Smith: Yeah.
Cary Weston: It maybe longer than that, but the buttery flaky crust thing was never supposed to happen. That has gone on to have millions and millions and millions of views. That was 2007. So that was what, 13 years ago? And just today, just today, literally at 12:30 today, I got an email from the UK and they found our video, and they love it and they want to know if they can put it in the television show. We probably get that once a week, where people across the world are looking for content.
Cary Weston: Those were sincere outtakes, and it was late December when that happened. It was pre-Christmas but late December. We thought it was funny. So we put a clip together and sent it over to the Dysart family, because they had a Christmas party coming up that week. The couple in the video are lifelong Dysart. In fact, they eat there twice a day still. They've been married 60 years, 60 plus, because it was 55 years at the time we did the video, so you can do the math.
Cary Weston: We sent that over so they could play it at the company Christmas party. And so, we put it on YouTube because that's what you do when you share videos. And what we forgot was eight, 900 subscribers to our YouTube channel, and we didn't think anything of it. We were just sharing a blooper video. Well, our contact, Mary Hart, at Dysart's was out of town. She was actually in North Carolina. And by the time she actually got around to looking at the email I sent, it had already been picked up by the BDN and had circulated across a couple of media channels. I remember celebrating when we got to 25,000 views. That was a monster for us. That was-
Ben Smith: That's huge.
Curtis Woorcester: Yeah.
Abby Doody: Yeah.
Cary Weston: I think it was at eight million or so this morning, but...
Abby Doody: Crazy.
Cary Weston: It's been interesting. And then, to see Will Ferrell and Saturday Night Live spoofed it not too long ago. The story I wanted to tell, that was the background, I travel across the country. And when I meet people, they ask me, "What do you do?" When you say you're in advertising, they always ask, "Oh, what ads have you done? What have you done that I know." Most of our stuff is regional. Ben, just like your clients, if you're in Poughkeepsie, you're not going to know that we do work for XYZ in Bangor, Maine.
Ben Smith: Sure.
Cary Weston: But it doesn't matter where I am. It really doesn't matter where I am. If I say buttery flaky crust, I can be in Texas, Portland, Oregon, Florida, it does not matter.
Curtis Worcester: That's great.
Cary Weston: They know, and it's a riot. Second side story. The video to Bangor, we contribute to our Bangor Region Chamber Award Dinner every year. And we try to put a video together to open, that has some character and some comedy to it. That was a year of creating an anthem for the city because, for years, people said, "We blame Roger Miller and his King of the Road-
Ben Smith: King of the Road.
Cary Weston: ... sound for that, because that's where the pronunciation most famously goes wrong. But I have been in airplanes where people do not know who I am, and nor should they, and the pilot will come on and said Banger, and somebody, every single flight, somebody's "Show him the video. Show him the video." It's kind of cool to see your work travel with you.
Abby Doody: Yeah. It's very cool.
Ben Smith: We just wanted to make sure that we highlighted that, because I think that just even augments and really just reinforces the whole, like, why do we want to bring you on, Cary, because you just really get the flavor of Bangor. I think you represent it, but also celebrate it. We've got to be able to have fun with this, and I think your firm does a lot of that too. So it's-
Cary Weston: Did you call Curtis Stephen King? Was he your Stephen King when you opened?
Ben Smith: Yes.
Cary Weston: Stephen King story. I grew up with Stephen's son, so we spent some time in his house. But I worked at a deli here in Bangor. And this just tells you the... So you asked why, right, at the beginning. Worked at a place called Fairmount Market for four years in college, a pizza and sandwiches... Your classic around the corner stop shop. And it's a few blocks from Stephen's house. He got an accident a decade or so ago, which changed his livelihood. He's certainly well enabled, but he doesn't spend as much time on the streets of public as he used to. But he used to be a very visible component in our city, walking around.
Cary Weston: It'd be nothing to see him and his son Owen's leather jacket, Bangor High school leather jacket, walking in canvas all stars and jeans, reading a book down the sidewalk. He'd come in and shoot the breeze with us at Fairmount Market. One night he came in, and Tabby, his wife, Tabitha, was out of town. So he'd lean over and just start shooting the breeze with us, and he didn't know what he wanted for dinner. A couple of minutes later, he comes back and asks for a pound of hamburger because he found a can of Manwich on the shelf and he hasn't had a manwich in a while. So Stephen was all excited he could make a manwich for dinner.
Cary Weston: And so he went up to the front, and Megabucks is our local lottery up here in Bangor or the Tri-State area. A few minutes later, he's hooting and hollering from the front. He's really excited. We're like, "Stephen, what is going on?" He's holding up his Megabucks ticket, and I thought, "Stephen King wins the lottery. That's fantastic." I say, "What's going on, Stephen?" Honest to goodness, he looked at us and he goes, "Guys, he just got three numbers right. That's a free ticket." He got so excited. Stephen King left the Fairmount Market with a can of Manwich, a pound of hamburger, and a free Megabucks ticket. He couldn't have been any happier.
Ben Smith: That's awesome. I think you hear that, when Stephen King talks about why Bangor, is he goes to the local movie theater and he doesn't get swarmed. It's just, hey, people see him, they know it's him. There might be a "Hi Stephen" there, "How you doing?" And it's leave him alone, right?
Cary Weston: Yep. Exactly right.
Ben Smith: Yeah. He could just fit in. And I think that's what's really great, is it's very tight knit here and it's been really great. I want to ask really two more questions about you, Cary. One is why has it been important for you to engage in public service here, such as City Council and non-profit boards? I want to start with one.
Cary Weston: I'm going to sound like an old curmudgeon when I do this, but I was taught that's what you're supposed to do. My grandfather told me that you leave the community better than you found it. And if you're going to be a part of it, if you're going to ask for the community to support you, in however way you define that, it's up to you to give back more so than you get. So that's the God's honest truth, is I believe that's inherent upon all of us to be a part of the community and do what we can to whatever talents, expertise, talents we might have, even it's just time, to make the community around you better than when you left it. And that's the answer.
Ben Smith: Got you. What's a little known fact about you that people would be surprised about?
Cary Weston: I can juggle, say the alphabet backwards, and I once took home a trophy in a standup comedy contest.
Ben Smith: Okay.
Curtis Worcester: All right.
Abby Doody: Wow.
Ben Smith: I like it. You gave me three. I want to really just now start digging into the topic, which we're gathered on today, is really the idea about, again, if I am going to retire, or I'm pre retirement right now, or maybe... And we just had a Dr. Sarah Geber, who's really an expert at solo aging, an episode ago. One of the things that we talked about was really there's three stages of retirement, that early retirement, middle, then end of life stage. And they're all very different.
Ben Smith: But one thing that we can consider is maybe where we are aging in place might not be the best place to be, is that we need to start thinking about and being open to other possibilities. And that's why "Why retire to Bangor, Maine" or other areas. Let's have that conversation with thinking about it.
Ben Smith: We have clients all over New England, and a lot beyond. But many of them really are considering that as well, where should I move? Where is my best fit? And that's really want to get into the show here today, is like, where's this fit? I want to just kick off the conversation with something about fun, like what's fun and quality of living. Can you talk about some of the fun things to do if you're residing in the Bangor area?
Cary Weston: Wow.
Ben Smith: And I can go forever, but yeah.
Cary Weston: Well, I pause because that's a very subjective term, right?
Ben Smith: Sure.
Abby Doody: Yes.
Cary Weston: There's a lot of folks that believe that birdwatching and just sitting in a field and meditating is fun. I don't have that patience, so I cannot do that. But I think I'll give you the answer that's... And I'm just not speaking for the city. I'll speak for the region because that's really what it feels like. But really, if I give you any level of interest outside of professional sports, in an hour, you can do whatever you need. You can do whatever you need, from outside or inside, from doing it solo with finding groups to do it with, for whether it's quiet or whether it's loud and noisy.
Cary Weston: We've got first rate Live Nation international music tours that come through on the summer. There's 17,000 people on the waterfront for a Dave Matthews concert or Kenny Chesney concert, or Phish, or Godsmack for that matter. You've got the oldest continuously running professional symphony orchestra in the Bangor Symphony Orchestra. You've got museums. You've got theater. But you've got the rivers, and ocean, and fields, and bike trails.
Cary Weston: I'm a little too busy, I think sometimes, in all of the things... Because I have three kids. And so, my main job at the moment is just making sure they get from point A to point B at any given time. But you see, whether it's gymnastics, or football, or soccer, or basketball, or girl scouts... Not only do the kids participate, but this is the type of community that really relies on, and doesn't have to search hard for people participating in giving in those particular activities as well.
Cary Weston: So, really, I think fun is a subjective term, but outside of trying to find a Boston Celtics or professional team of some level, anything you can think of is probably within an hour's distance of living here.
Ben Smith: You've made the point too, Cary, in other conversations when I've heard you before, is, hey, I can be in the proper city of Bangor, or Brewer, or wherever else, Hampden, and I could be at a lake in five minutes, is I can access the... Again, we're a small city here, but you can access the outdoors and feel like you're hundreds of miles away really quickly, which has been pretty nice.
Cary Weston: 100%. Yep. 100%. I'm in Bangor proper and I have animals in my backyard on a regular basis, and that's not counting the kids. I mean, actual animals.
Abby Doody: We talked about how easy it is to access things in Bangor. How easy is it to access fun things not in Bangor? So transportation, airways, stuff like that. Yeah.
Cary Weston: Yeah. Interstate 95 runs right through the heart of it, which is the pathway to Boston, New York, or even the Maritimes. The highway may not go to Canada, but you're only an hour plus away from, or a few hours away from Quebec and Montreal. International airport is here, the Bangor International Airport, full disclaimer as a client, perhaps so, but the ability to get here and go anywhere is remarkably simple. I'm sad to say that I have tickets for Nashville in September that I don't think we'll be using.
Cary Weston: We've got direct flights to Florida that I hope we are using in November. But the ability to go... I fly from here to Chicago, San Diego, Texas, Nashville, just in Savannah. Everything is very accessible with airlines that run through here. So the ability for us to get away is very easy. And the best part for me is, when I land, I'm five minutes from home. So getting there is one thing, but when I'm able to come back at the end of a long trip and be just a few minutes from my doorstep, that's a pretty good feeling.
Abby Doody: Absolutely.
Curtis Worcester: I want to change pace a little bit and get into a serious topic that we have with our clients, and probably anyone listening here. As you get towards retirement, healthcare becomes a big point of interest. Can you take a little time and just talk about the healthcare infrastructure here in the Bangor area? How it works well, and then on the flip side, if there's areas that maybe doesn't work so well and people may seek going into Portland or Boston for areas in that healthcare need.
Cary Weston: Sure. I'll preface this by saying I've been blessed and completely fortunate not to have to use much of what we're about to talk about. I think if you were to define an industry that is well-served and probably served as well as any place that I've ever been in our community, it's healthcare, and both from a quantity and quality point of view. Maine is a large state geographically. It might only be 1.3 million people from a population point of view, but geographically it's a large state, and Bangor sits, depending on your perspective, we're somewhere in the middle. And it serves at least half, if not close to two-thirds of a geographical area from a service center point of view, for many of the things that you just brought up.
Cary Weston: The Northern Light healthcare system, the former Eastern Maine healthcare system is based in Bangor and in as far-reaching all around the state. The ability for that system to have soup to nuts, let's say, is remarkable. You've also got Penobscot Community Healthcare, which has a wide footprint from a variety of full service from dentistry, to pediatrics, to elderly care, to whatever you need. And so you've got St. Joseph Healthcare, which is part of a Covenant center. They have another location in Lewiston, but part of a national system.
Cary Weston: But on top of the official healthcare systems, the official hospitals, if you will, there's a number of nonprofits, social service healthcare organizations, specialists. To your point of needing to leave, it'll always be true that somebody somewhere is going to be better at something, right?
Curtis Worcester: Sure.
Cary Weston: And so, the fact that someone leaves doesn't mean that something's not available here or that's poor or not desirable, but there's always going to be somewhere better to get something when it comes to healthcare, because that's the nature of specialist. You've got folks that dedicate their lives to one organ or one piece of something and it'll always be there. And so, back to your earlier question I think that Abby asked about getting somewhere, we're blessed to have this fantastically robust piece of our economy which is based in healthcare, and affiliate resources that are just an hour away by flight if need be.
Cary Weston: Again, I'm going to tell you, I have not been touched by this, and I can't count my blessings enough, but we have a world class cancer center right here in our backyard that is doing some remarkable research and breakthrough work, and changing lives, and improving lives in ways that just blows people away on a regular basis. But they also have affiliates and networks, again, because it can't all be in Bangor. All of the knowledge can't be here. So you tap in and you connect to resources greater than yourselves, and specialists greater than yourself.
Cary Weston: The affiliations that the healthcare systems have with partner organizations of international fame, again, is only an hour away if need be. And that does happen. There are specialists that you need to get to. My parents live here. My parents are both with us. My in-laws are still with us, and they're in their mid seventies, and with one exception. I think it was a knee replacement. As you get older, you start looking and using the healthcare resources you've been talking about in different ways.
Curtis Worcester: For sure.
Cary Weston: And so, they are well-served here in our backyard and the majority, the vast majority of their appointments, outside of I think a specialist knee replacement that took place. And even that can be done here, has happened in our backyard. So it's a very rich healthcare environment staffed by some really skilled and experienced professionals that are well served by specialist and organizations around it too. It's a big piece of our economy, it's a big piece of our community, and it certainly puts us on the map in the State of Maine.
Ben Smith: Cary, just to contrast that, really, to other parts of the state, is because if you are in maybe even a rural part of the state, you might have healthcare access, but it might be just emergency health care access is what you have. So as you made the point of, we service just this really big geographic area in the state, because if you're in Millinocket, yes, if you broke your foot or something happened, got in car accident, you could get emergency treatment right there. But for something bigger and maybe more involved, you're probably going to come to Bangor as a service center for healthcare as well, right?
Cary Weston: You will, and there's been some fantastic... I mean, you don't get to look at these things every day, because it's not in your wheelhouse. It's not in your need and you just don't take time out of your day to go poke your nose in things that aren't aren't needed or part of your daily work. But when I do see... You mentioned earlier having served on the council, and my time on the council, I've got to see, and experience, and tour, and just interact with things that I normally wouldn't.
Cary Weston: The technology component of healthcare these days is fabulous. It's mind blowing. Telehealth, the ability of using high speed internet, well beyond what pipes into our homes to watch Netflix, the ability to use this pipeline to bring, not just advice, but procedures to rural hospitals, rural needs from hours away, is remarkable. The things that are happening in our own backyard, the innovations, the technology, investments, the wonders and miracles that are happening in our backyard would blow you away to think that this is a community of our size, which is relatively small in the national agenda.
Cary Weston: But pound for pound, I'd put it up against any community I could think of from an ROI and quality of life point of view, especially when it comes to healthcare resources and assets.
Ben Smith: Nice. I want to ask maybe about just choosing Bangor overall. When we see people from all walks of life that maybe are leaving some area, and I'm not just saying within Maine. Maybe they're coming from Chicago, or maybe they're coming from New York, or Texas, or whatever, and they choose Bangor. Why do they choose here? And then, once they do choose here, do they stay and why?
Cary Weston: I will tell you that the last... We're recording this, from a timeline point of view, in the midst of a global pandemic, COVID-19. So my answer is going to be tainted a little bit, but I'll give a greater context. The ability for folks to see things here, safety, comfort, reliability, that kind of thing, has driven folks to evaluate a different quality of life. And certainly, that's the answer I'll give you today if you're looking at the current events.
Cary Weston: Backing up pre March 2020, I would tell you that the conversations I've had with folks, the only thing I can relate it to is a sports analogy in recruiting the quarterback. A lot of decisions aren't made on facts, they're made on emotions and then the eye test. And a lot of folks, when they tour here, feel that comfortableness, they feel the comradery, they feel the sense of peace and welcoming. Then they see things like the neighborhoods, things that you and I have seen every day of our life if you've grown up here, are very unique.
Cary Weston: A lot of the eyes that are coming from different parts of the country, the old-fashioned neighborhood with a park and a stop sign is not a common thing as you travel from city to city. And our city was built in the 1800s on the backs of a global lumber enterprise. Some of the neighborhoods and houses that were built by the barons back in the day are still around, and certainly it's evolved through the years. But the character of the neighborhoods, the quality of schools... I'll give you the brochure, right? So the character of the neighborhoods, the quality of schools... We have award-winning schools, blue ribbon, award-winning, over-performing schools in our backyard.
Cary Weston: The more I spend time in areas of economic development, specifically talking with families, I can tell you, schools are a very, very high percentage of check boxes when it comes to establishing where you want to go, which is not right from a retirement point of view. That's not going to be high on the list, but from a family point of view, it speaks to the character of the community.
Ben Smith: I think what we're seeing is there's a lesson learned from the Florida retirement communities, the Arizona retirement communities, is they're looking at this and saying, "Hey, we built a whole community just on people that are just like ourselves. And yeah, we don't need to invest in schools because we don't have a lot of kids here, but then you have to continue to replenish your community perpetually and aggressively, otherwise it dies away. So getting a community that has all aspects of life stages and... I would even say, back to that is, hey, I think those are very important because if you are attracting then those younger professionals, you're going to do things that maybe are more services that maybe you don't want directly, but indirectly going to lead to more success for you in retirement.
Cary Weston: Well, that's well said. And too, if you think about the stages of life, not just the stages of retirement, the stages of life, those young families oftentimes come with working professionals that do contribute, volunteer, and give time to the resources that are enjoyed by both young and old. And so, the donations that go to the theater, and the symphony, and the performing arts or the trails, the volunteers on the trails that make the pathways through the birdwatching trails that have happened oftentimes are of all ages. And you see people normally working, but enjoying them on all ages.
Cary Weston: Your point again, there's multiple levels of truth to what you said. As we've done number of economic development studies, both in the region and on organizations I've been a part of, it's safe to say, and it's backed up with data, that the things that young families and young professionals look for in a community are exactly the same things that are valued by retirees or folks looking to retire, the diversity, the quality of life, the access. The things that you would think of for a 25 or a 45 year old, also ring true with a 65 year old looking to explore community. So you're right on.
Abby Doody: You were just talking about this a little bit, so we'll dive into it a little bit more. But the vibrant community aspect.
Cary Weston: Sure.
Abby Doody: A lot of retirees, like Ben was saying, that we talk to are really looking for a diverse community of people to interact with, to keep them young and active through their retirement stages. Can you talk about some of... Are seniors going to find that in Bangor? What kind of community can people look for when they're retiring in Bangor?
Cary Weston: Yeah. It's only about 98% Red Sox fans here, so there's a small minority of.... There's room. There's room for Pirates fan.
Ben Smith: Those Yankees.
Cary Weston: Right. No, no, no, no. Pirates. Feel welcome, Pirates fans. As I tell my son, we don't swear in this house. Can you repeat the question, because all I had was Yankees and Red Sox going through my mind as you were talking about it. I think you were talking about vibrancy, right? Is that what you were-
Abby Doody: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. So a vibrant community and what can seniors look for a sense of community and how can they go about maybe building a community if they've just moved to the area, and yeah, finding people like them?
Cary Weston: Finding people like them, again, always ends up being subjective. But the one thing that I have seen in our backyard is, not only is there a wide variety of, like we talked about, recreation and healthcare, but nonprofit organizations are another lifeblood of our community. And they're not always just social service nonprofits. There's a number of nonprofit organizations in our backyard that range the gamut, from biking to... I'll keep going back to forest and trails, to kayaking, to arts and dance and clogging and all...
Cary Weston: I mean, if you can think of an activity, there is probably a nonprofit in a social calendar that you can tap into in our backyard. And this is someone else's words. We filmed a national series here back in the day with Extreme Makeover Home Edition when that was still on television, and we had to bring together a number of different people from a number of different areas with no compensation and asked them to do a lot for nothing. I remember having a conversation with a producer and he says, "We've done this 104 times. This is our 104th building 104th show that we'll do, and I can't remember a community that works so easily together, that seems like everybody was connected. And if they weren't connected, they were willing to introduce you to two or three that were connected right off the bat."
Cary Weston: There was no entry fee. There was no proving yourself. There was no friction entering the welcoming community. And he said, "You don't understand how unique that is. And I know that you don't see it because you're in it. But the ability to be plugged in instantly is a significant advantage to someone from away, because they don't feel like they have to circle and wait for an entry point. There's always someone willing to pull them in and make them part of it."
Cary Weston: And so, I think that's probably the best answer I can give you, is you're not going to find a kiosk with every answer, but you are going to find someone that knows someone, and then before you know it, you're exactly where you want to be and it's going to feel like you've been there for a decade.
Abby Doody: That's great.
Ben Smith: Cary, we've had that with obviously the podcast, is we can go right to, which has been great is, hey, Cary, write you an email and say, "Here's what I've got going on. Can we talk about it?" And you're like, "Yeah, let's just talk about it." It's just this openness and the approachability that's happening here. I think that's been the great part about, for me, why Maine, is that you can do work here because you can approach people and say, "Here's an idea. Can we collaborate? Can we just come together on something?" And it's just, "Yeah, let's partner. Let's do it." And not like, "Well, that's my turf and that's yours." And yeah. So I think the sandbox, everybody plays, for the most part, pretty well in, which has been pretty special.
Cary Weston: But only in the Bangor region, Ben.
Ben Smith: Only in the Bangor region.
Cary Weston: That's the thing.
Curtis Worcester: Cary, I want to ask a couple of financial-related questions here. Cost of living and taxes are a big couple bullet points there. Can you talk about how the cost of living in the Bangor area compares to other areas in the state, and then similarly for property tax? Yeah.
Cary Weston: Those are going to take two different avenues for me. And so I'll take the easiest one first. Cost of living is something that rates very high on the compatibility scale. If you look across the board to our Southern neighbors, deep south down in the Portland region, you're probably anywhere from 15 to 20% on the plus side from a cost of living point of view if you take expenses and consider... Outside of housing. Housing in the Portland market or in the bigger population market has exploded.
Cary Weston: In our region, there are two... When it comes to housing and affordability. And I go right to housing because in most budgets, that's at least 60 to 70% of what you're dealing with, right?
Curtis Worcester: Yeah.
Cary Weston: And so, in our region, you've got a model that's seen across the country, which is relatively old center, which would be Bangor. I referenced the lumber years and whatnot. And then you've got one layer out if you're building a circle, like in a concentric circle kind of view. Then you've got the outline communities, which... Call them suburbs if you will. But it's funny when I use the word city and suburbs when I talk to my friends that are in bigger cities, they're like, "What are you talking about?"
Ben Smith: They laugh. I get that.
Cary Weston: Right. Right. That's all in context. But I remember, when I was growing up, I told you I grew up in Bangor. We're surrounded by Hampden, Glenburn, Hermon, Levant, Orono, Brewer, Veazie, the bedroom communities. When I was growing up, there was nothing from housing... There was mostly woods. In fact, I remember taking snowmobiles through the woods and ending up at Dysart's for ice cream in the middle of winter because there was nothing in your way.
Cary Weston: Fast forward now, two or three decades, and you've got a significant increase in housing stocks in those communities. You've got population growth in those communities that is steadily at 15% anyway, from a growth point of view. And the newness, the age of the housing in those communities is significantly younger than what you'll find in Bangor. Not to say that there isn't that in Bangor. It's just a different feel. You've got limited opportunity inside the city proper for new construction, just because it's pretty well maxed out.
Cary Weston: And then, if you go beyond there, you've got significant developments, whether it be single houses on five acres or whether it be... I think Veazie at the moment has a significant neighborhood plan going in now with a few hundred houses on the planning spec. So from a cost of living point of view, it rates very well. The quality of housing stock inside the city, you'll see a different... You've got to have the ability to understand character and history, right?
Curtis Worcester: Sure.
Cary Weston: It's not all fix them ups is what I'm saying. It's nothing to find a house that was built in 1928 being a desired neighborhood house, where if you were to go literally two miles down the road, the town didn't exist in 1928. So things like that. Taxes, I take on a very different point of view. I will say, when I first started government, I would tell you... As background, I did serve six years here in council and one year as mayor, and I recognized that some of the financial challenges we were having in our city were not unlike what other municipalities were having around the state.
Cary Weston: So in 2012, when I was serving as mayor here in Bangor, I started it coalition. I got together with five or six other communities in our state, the larger ones, and got the mayors together. And we started what became known as the Mayor's Coalition, to have that conversation, to talk about, how can we collectively look at ways in which municipal dollars, which is property taxes, right?
Curtis Worcester: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Cary Weston: Can be used and managed appropriately. I was of the mindset, when I started that journey, that any tax raise was a bad tax raise, any tax was a bad tax, and that we had to cut, cut, cut. I've come to understand the fiscal realities of what happens in the world. And so, I share all that... That's a long intro to your question, and I get it. And I'm not stalling by any stretch, but I will tell you that I've also come to learn that there is a significant story that's not told sometimes when you look at a tax rate.
Cary Weston: If you simply were to look at the tax rates of our surrounding communities and compare it to Bangor, you would probably see lower numbers, if you're looking at a mill rate, the measurement of the valuation per tax. But the minute you start to compare apples to apples, you find out that the number that you're looking at in Bangor is significantly undervalued when you compare it to the communities. There might be a $4 difference in the mill rate between Bangor and neighboring town XYZ, but there's probably a 10X return on that mill rate in Bangor as opposed to the neighboring town.
Cary Weston: So it really depends on what you're looking for and what you need. For a city of 35,000, you have a fully stocked full-time four-house fire department. You have two-minute responsive police. You have remarkable schools. If you look at the communities that rank high in schools, what they call the measurement of over performance, we are not supposed to be in the conversation because, in our state, there are pockets of towns here that have high per capita income, but majority of that revenue is in Southern Maine on the coast. So that measurement drives up.
Cary Weston: The economic drivers are supposed to say that the more affluent the community, the better the schools are going to be. Whenever they show the grid, whenever they show the rankings and return on investment for schools, there's a cluster and there's always an outlying star. And that outlying star is Bangor. It over-performs by any stretch in any metric because if you look at our average per capita income in the county, for instance, we're well below, for a number of reasons, the ruralness of the county, as well as the service center mentality of those Southern Maine communities, the flavor of Bangor is we have 10,000 housing structures in the city of Bangor. 5,000 of those are multi-units, and 5,000 of those are single family.
Cary Weston: So if you look at it, you're about 50/50 down the path, of multifamily versus single family. And then as you get to those one-neighborhood communities, it's 95%, they're probably low, of single family. But the ability for the city to respond... It might only have 35,000 people, but it needs to respond to a community of 150 to 200,000 on any given day because the job, the economic drivers, are in our city. So even those that live in the outbound communities come in.
Cary Weston: Our city goes from 35,000 to 100,000 easily on any given weekday by nine o'clock in the morning. And we have to have the infrastructure to serve three times our population. When you start looking at things through that lens, the return on the tax rate, as you see it, it's a good return.
Ben Smith: Cary, so you've done a really good job just breaking down housing and housing stock. I want to talk and maybe just take the angle a little bit towards retirees in housing stock. When retirees are in their homes, so say they're already here, what have they done to address the aging in their homes? And then, how could they improve that?
Cary Weston: I'm going to pause, because, again, there's a lot of avenues to go in that place. So-
Ben Smith: I guess what I'm asking is, it doesn't mean that you're always going to be aging in your home. We hear that a lot from our clients, is I want to stay in my home as long as possible because they go, "I don't want to go into a nursing home. So I stay here as long as possible because if I go to a nursing home, I'm just going to die. So I want to do as much as I can to be independent in my home as long as possible." But what we find is it's not binary. It's not just I stay in my home or I go end-of-life nursing home, and that's it. There's more than that. That's what I want to ask you about in terms of like, not just it being in my house, but what housing opportunities are there for retirees here?
Cary Weston: Yeah. I'll answer that a couple of different ways. There's a wide variety of housing style options. There's going to be that traditional three bedroom, four bedroom for the family in the neighborhood. But there's also a lot of, to your point... It's probably been the last decade where I've seen more new construction growth in this area, but it's single level, cape kind of bound where everyone's on the same floor. So that has really become probably a predominant...
Cary Weston: If I look at any new housing stock built in the area, or in Bangor particular, it's been probably along that lines of offering single-floor convenience for that exact reason. The last house we moved about five years ago within the city, and the house that I had, if you're my father in law who lived in Nyack, New York... I was Stephen King's neighbor as I lived on West Broadway. If you are in Bangor, you know that I was nowhere near Stephen King, but it's nice to say that when you're drinking with friends at Starbucks.
Cary Weston: There's a number of challenges to old housing stock from a reality point of view because the building codes of 1930, 1940, 1950 are not the building codes of today. There aren't a lot of two-acre parcels with a swimming in the middle of the city. Just doesn't work that way. And so, when you have the character of the neighborhoods, I mentioned the parks earlier on, there are a number of neighborhoods in our city where you, you see that house on the sidewalk kind of feel with a backyard, and they're relatively close to each other. And that's because they all face a park or they have a park nearby.
Cary Weston: So the recreational space for the neighborhood wasn't your backyard or your front yard, it was the collective park with the swing set, the park's equipment, and baseball fields, and that kind of stuff. So there's a number of neighborhoods that look and feel like that. And what we spent time doing on my time on the council was trying to come through the restriction that would keep old housing stock, or historic even, houses from not being able to be redeveloped.
Cary Weston: And so, there's a lot of conversation and work in the city ordinances that's taken place specifically over the last decade, that's allowing modifications to housing for that exact purpose, from a realistic point of view, to allow folks to live more comfortably for a longer period of time, and perhaps the house that wasn't designed to be modified that way. And so, the ability for someone to see potential in modifying bathrooms or entryways, the city has tried their best to create opportunities for that ordinance to happen.
Cary Weston: The second thing I'll share with you is we just passed this. I left the council last November, so it's almost a year, three-quarters of a year now. But the last thing we did was introduce a concept of trying to make it easier for folks to convert or build on in more apartments, into homes that were traditionally deemed single family. So we now have the availability and clearance to allow modifications or additions in our neighborhoods, that weren't there just two or three years ago, that would allow folks to bring aging parents, and either modify a garage or add on an in-law apartment to that extent and fit within building codes and ordinances.
Cary Weston: So I think those are two very specific things that probably fall into an interest in the audience that you're talking about, that would allow folks to not have that linear "I'm going to be in this home" or "I'm going to be in a nursing home" and have there be some transitional time.
Ben Smith: Nice.
Abby Doody: We're going to totally shift gears here. The weather. Maine is notorious for having four very distinct seasons, and maybe that's something that retirees are looking into. And the big one, the big question mark is winter. So how long, in your opinion, is Bangor's winter? How bad does the winter get? And what can people do to stay active in the winter, particularly retirees?
Cary Weston: The four seasons as I wrote them down was pre winter, winter, and mud, 4th of July. Pretty much those are the four-
Abby Doody: Pretty much it. Yep.
Cary Weston: Yep. My brother-in-law has this saying that says, "I hope summer's on a weekend this year." I told you, you asked me earlier on, why do I stay here? The humidity is something I can't handle. I have family in Atlanta. I spent time in Charleston last year in July for God knows whatever reason, down in South Carolina. And it's just not fun for me to walk from one curve to the next and have to change my shirt. It just doesn't work well for me. It's not a good look.
Cary Weston: So what I tell folks when they ask that exact question, in fact, I have an employee that's been with us for about a year and two months, and he came to us from The Bahamas. And so, this spring, we went to lunch when he first started here. We went to lunch, and it was that day. Ben, you probably know that first spring day where it's 55 degrees, and you roll the windows down and open up whatever event you have as you're driving on the street, you're in short sleeves.
Cary Weston: And so, I was doing that. Cerrato is his name. He looked at me like, "What are you doing?" He's got two layers of sweatshirts on. We turn the heat on and all that. I'm like, "This is it." The weather is what you make it. And so, one of the things we talked about... And you can't hide it. You can't fake somebody and say, "There's no winter here. There's nothing like that," because they're going to find out eventually. We tried that once. The ability for you to make the best of it, our winter is a lot like summer in the Southern climates, where the AC is on everywhere. And you go from AC climate to AC climate, and you get out of it as quick as you can.
Cary Weston: In winter, if you don't like the cold, you're basically going from one heated environment to a next. You don't build homes here with AC, you build homes here with heat, and that's just the reverse from these other climates. But the diversity of the offerings that we've had also lend themselves as some special characteristics. So our golf course and some of those recreation trails turns into cross country skiing. There's sledding hills that magically appear. You're 45 minutes from a pretty nice little family hill for skiing, an hour and a half to Sugarloaf.
Cary Weston: If you turn your lakeside access from bass fishing and trout fishing into ice fishing, you've got all that there. And so, there's positives. But there's certainly a winter for sure, and how long it lasts is in someone else's hands but mine. But the ability to make the best of it comes with that territory of good old fashioned Yankees survivalism. The comradery and the sense of community and togetherness is just as viable in the winter as it is in warmer weather as well. So it's certainly four seasons.
Cary Weston: Christmas in Maine, nothing like it. There's certainly variations in the weather, and that's part of the charm. I think it's part of what I'd miss If I did move away.
Curtis Worcester: Our last question for you, Cary. We're switching out of Bangor and we're going to go back to put the spotlight on you. So as you join us here today on the Retirement Success In Maine Podcast, we like to ask all of our guests how they envision their own retirement. So what will be a successful retirement for you, looking ahead?
Cary Weston: Well, making it there, for one. Let's go there.
Curtis Worcester: There you go.
Cary Weston: It's funny you ask me that question. It was our anniversary a couple of weeks ago, and we finally went out to an in-person dinner for the first time in three or four months. Sitting about nine feet away from me at the next available table was a guy that had retired last year and was active in the community. And I got to know him. His name was Dennis. He was having dinner with his wife, and I asked him, "How's retirement?" Because I know he hasn't slowed down. He's one of those guys that just will be busy all the time [inaudible 00:53:54]. And I said, "Are you busier now than you were? It seems..." And he says, "I am." I said, "Were you happy that you did it? Did you make the right decision in retiring?"
Cary Weston: He paused for a second and he says, "You know what's changed?" He says, "I'm equally as active, and I'm having a lot of fun, but I've always had fun. I've always been active. But now I get to choose when to do it and if to do it." And he says, "As long as I have the ability to do something that I'm interested in or not do something that I'm interested in, and either one of those choices is okay, I'm always going to think I made the right decision." And I think I'll steal Dennis... I'll just paraphrase Dennis's definition.
Cary Weston: I think the ability to put your time and efforts into something that makes you happy or that matters to you, or not sure, and that is the definition for me, is being satisfied with whatever decision you have, because the decision is solely yours. It's not dependent on a time clock. It's not dependent on someone else's liability of what you do or what you don't do. And being able to self pay, self enjoy, and invest at your own free will. However you define that, I think is the definition that I'll choose for a successful retirement.
Curtis Worcester: That's great.
Ben Smith: I love that, Cary, because I would also say too is... Just listening to our conversation during this episode, you're living that anyway. That's your values and who you are as it is. So just being more of yourself is awesome. You've been such a great ambassador for Bangor, so thank you for coming on our show today. It was a lot of fun.
Cary Weston: No, I appreciate that very much. I'm glad to see that you guys are promoting our region. I know you've got clients throughout New England and probably beyond that as well. Certainly got a solid reputation, and it's nice to have a spotlight and opportunity to talk about the realities and the things that make our area special, so thank you for that.
Ben Smith: Yeah. All right. Well, Cary, appreciate you coming on and I'm sure we'll catch you next time.
Cary Weston: Absolutely. Thanks, guys.
Abby Doody: Thanks.
Ben Smith: I kind of joke, in a way, that it was nice having Cary Weston on as the ambassador of the Bangor here. But he really is, right?
Curtis Worcester: Yeah.
Ben Smith: I think from a city council, he was a mayor, he is really active in the nonprofit side, as he talked about. They actually donate a lot of their videography services to their chamber awards dinner, which is a... Anybody that's been here, they know that's a really big deal in the business community, is that, and they've just done a phenomenal job. I was just really pleased that he donated his time to us today to really talk, and maybe not necessarily sell. I just wanted to have the conversation. So it was really good that he did that.
Ben Smith: We always wrap up our show, as we all know, highlighting some lessons that we took away from today. I'm actually going to have Abby start because she's the non-Bangor person. Hopefully she's got some really valuable lessons of why Bangor is kind of nice advantages here. So Abby, what'd you learn today?
Abby Doody: Yeah. Absolutely. What I found so interesting that Cary was talking about, is a lot of your neighborhoods in Bangor are apparently set up with a park in the middle of them to create community. So we don't have that in Portland, and I find it very interesting and cool that the city planners way back planned out the city that way to have a community feel to it, which Cary echoed through all different types of community in Bangor. And I think that's a really special thing about Bangor and very unique. I didn't even know that and I spend a lot of time in Bangor even not being from Bangor.
Ben Smith: But now you're going to drive through, right, and you're going to go-
Abby Doody: Exactly.
Ben Smith: "There's the park. There's the park. There's a park," and all the houses are going to face, right?
Abby Doody: Exactly. Yeah. I think that's very cool.
Ben Smith: Very neat. Curtis, what did you take away from... Because you are an actual Bangor resident in-
Abby Doody: Yeah.
Ben Smith: Who are actually broadcasting right now from Bangor itself.
Curtis Worcester: Exactly. Born and raised and never leaving. One piece that really stuck out to me was when we asked Cary about the taxes and he talked about the mill rate and his time serving on city council and being mayor. And I think it's easy for someone to look at the taxes for Bangor specifically compared to the surrounding towns and communities and think that it's high, and because I think you'll see that it is higher compared to the neighboring towns.
Curtis Worcester: He talked about himself, how he had to look at it at a different lens, and that forced me to, as he was talking about it, to think about how much there is in Bangor. He referenced the robust fire department, the police department that has such quick and amazing response times. And then, the schools. He talked about how great our schools are. I say our, go Rams. And then, even, another piece on top of that, he talked about how much being a population center, the city is built to support three times its normal living population.
Curtis Worcester: And I'd never thought about that because he said, any given day, at 9:00 AM, the population's tripled. So that was a really cool piece. Again, as someone who lives in Bangor and pays property taxes in Bangor, it was nice to hear that other angle of it. So I really appreciated that.
Ben Smith: Nice. I think, from my end is, I think what's really important we wanted to highlight why Bangor is I think when people can think about all the areas of the state, is you could go coastal. What if I live right on the coast? Wouldn't that be beautiful to be staring at the ocean and getting access to that? Or what if I was in Portland where you have a little bit more of an urban center in the state. I know Portland, it really isn't, grand scheme of things, that big of a city either.
Ben Smith: You go Aroostook County with farms, and Western Maine with a little more mountains. You have all these very different populations and different geographies, but what's been pretty cool about Bangor is it truly is the geographic center of the state. It's an hour maybe 20 to Bar Harbor, which is, I know that's a gateway there. It is like an hour to really most coastal areas, Ellsworth for example. But also going to Canada is a couple hours away, as he said.
Ben Smith: If you want to go to Quebec, to Quebec City or Saint John, New Brunswick, or places like that, that's a really easy skip and a jump. Going to go skiing, well, again, an hour to two hours away, some really great skiing going on. If you want to go Portland, when I want to access those things, couple hours away. As long as you're okay being in a car for that long, that hour to two hours, it's a pretty easy day trip to do anything you want to do and it's very diverse.
Ben Smith: So I think that was, for me, has been the personal draw, is that I can go do anything I want. And it just feels like I could be in Canada and Quebec City in less than half of a day. And it feels like Europe, and it just feels like something completely different. So yeah. Again, I know when people ask, "Well, why Bangor?" And they go, "Weather. Winter must be 11 months and 28 days," and then you get two days of summer, right?
Curtis Worcester: Right.
Ben Smith: That joke, which is maybe partially true. But I think with that, I think there's a lot about the people that values the geography and all that's happening here. Again, I think with what we want to do here is maybe take some time highlighting other areas of the state too, and just put that shine on each one of them, and each one of them have their advantages. And maybe that helps narrow the decision making down for retirees.
Ben Smith: Want to thank everybody for listening in to today's show? We are at episode 24. So if you want to check out more resources... we'll actually post as Cary was giving the story about the Dysart's commercial. We'll have that there, and we'll have the Bangor Anthem, which is phenomenal if you've not seen it. It was even on the Today Show. He didn't mention that part. But we'll have the YouTube link there, plus a little bit more of the resources for the City of Bangor, because I think those are all really valuable to check out. So you can go to blog.guidancepointllc.com/24 or 24-
Curtis Worcester: 24.
Ben Smith: You can find that there. Again, you can find us. We'll have these clips up on YouTube as well. Check that out. Search for Retirement Success in Maine, hit our subscribe button, and you can follow us there. And, of course, all the podcast channels, which we hope you're listening to as well. But thanks for tuning in today, guys, and we'll talk to you next time.