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The gist of the matter is that states need to raise revenue to provide public services. They do it in different ways.
New Hampshire relies heavily on real estate taxes. Those who live in more expensive areas (those in commuting distance to Metro Boston) end up paying a lot more -- either as homeowners or, sometimes, as renters
, since rents include the cost of property tax.
In Maine, the burden is more spread out -- through an income tax. What that means is those who make more pay more.
Sales tax is an issue -- but as anyone who lives in Massachusetts will tell you, they have, for years, driven to NH to buy big ticket items without sales tax.
The best advice anyone can give on making a decision vis-a-vis state laws is to simply add up the variables in each case. I'd make a chart that includes:
1. My Income and Income Tax hit in each state
2. My Expected Property Tax in each state
3. Cost of Housing in Each State
4. How close I would be to the border of NH for shopping (anyone can buy without sales tax in NH).
Remember, though, that NH also imposes high levies on such things as restaurant meals. They figure they can tax visitors to raise revenue. Maine is fairer about this -- and I would also calculate how much eating out I'd do, and then figure the sales tax on restaurants (which is different than the sales tax on goods).
The last calcualtion is what type of services I would need. If there will be children in public schools, that's always a consideration. Many people in all kinds of places opt to pay more in taxes to have better educational services. Also, look at fees for things like trash collection. In some places, they are included in taxes, in others the homeowner pays. Its a hidden tax that people tend not to think about.
Also, if public transportation
is of concern (for instance if someone in the household will need to get to Boston often and doesn't like traffic jams). Rail service to Boston is best in some of the most highly taxed parts of both states.
As for the auto insurance
requirements -- it is not exactly that one need have insurance. But people have to demonstrate that they meet certain financial resource requirements should they get into an accident in which they are at fault. Essentially, instead of buying insurance, people can set aside money to meet the requirements (it might be called self-insurance). Since people from NH and Maine drive in each other's states, this is really not much of consideration. Smart drivers always buy uninsured motorist coverage -- because even in states where insurance is mandatory, some people drive after their policies
lapse. While one can sue, people who let insurance lapse often are having financial troubles and have no assets (otherwise, they'd carry insurance!). So, the protections are the same in both states (although it may be worth checking if uninsured motorist coverage in NH is more expensive than in Maine -- as that would be another variable in determining the expected cost of living when making your comparison chart).
I wish you every happiness wherever you settle. I love New England, myself -- and envy those who can make a life in those climes!