Portland, Maine, is the state's largest city, and the nucleus of a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) whose population numbers more than 520,000 people. In recent years, the Portland MSA has shown stronger growth than most New England population centers, the Portland Press Herald reported in 2014 (see: "Population gains put Portland metro area in No. 2 spot in New England

" by Edward D. Murphy).

The economic hot spot for the Portland MSA is the city of Portland itself, whose population numbers only about 67,000, according to the most recent Census Bureau estimate (see: "Portland QuickFacts"). The city's hip, bustling downtown fueled by busy summer tourist traffic, its walkable neighborhoods, and its attractive and scenic parks make it a desirable place for young singles and families. But space is limited — and that's creating a rent spiral that is pricing many young people out of the housing market.

The Press-Herald is focusing on the Portland area housing market this fall in a multi-part series (see: "Welcome to Portland: No Vacancy"). The paper looks at Portland's market from a variety of viewpoints, including the perspective of landlords, who are finding it easier than ever to rent apartments (see: "No Vacancy: Landlords capitalize on ‘insane’ market," by Tux Turkel).

"Average asking rents in Portland have shot up 40 percent in the past five years, and most of that growth has come in the past three years, according to historical data from the Maine State Housing Authority and a Portland Press Herald analysis of current rents," the paper reports. "The newspaper’s analysis of apartment listings in September and October found the average two-bedroom apartment in Portland renting for $1,560 a month, up from a 2010 inflation-adjusted average of $1,115."