The 23 year old, newly recalled to the Socceroos fold for June's crucial calendar of matches, was intent on finding a league which would best harness his attributes - even if it meant missing the Championship money train.
However, the joint A-League Golden Boot won't be going hungry, with his three-year contract at the small-town club coached by 79-cap ex-German international Torsten Frings still substantial.
So much so, that it's understood the former Brisbane Roar goal-machine will be the best paid player on Frings's roster, and one of the top earners in the 2.Bundesliga.
"If Jamie wanted (top) money he'd have gone somewhere else ... there were some very big clubs chasing him," said his agent Paddy Dominguez.
"Some of those large teams will perhaps look at Darmstadt and ask why Jame went there instead.
"But it was all very strategic ... it's the right place for Jamie to take that next step."
Development, rather than dollars, has long been Maclaren's mantra, with Darmstadt, under the tuition of Frings, viewed as the ideal destination to add the extra dimensions to his game needed to force his way into a top European league and become a regular starter for his country.
With another client, Socceroos midfielder Aaron Mooy, flourishing at a Huddersfield under German coach David Wagner, Dominguez has no doubt that Maclaren can do likewise working with Frings.
"They are both up-and-coming German coaches, and I've seen what David has been able to do with Aaron, and I'm sure Torsten will do a good job with Jamie," he said.
"He really believes in Jamie, he's really invested in him and when you have a coach of his quality who has that much confidence in you it's a very good start for the two of them in their relationship.
"Jamie will progress under Torsten and that's what he needs at this stage of his career.
"They play good football, and Frings did well after turning things around a bit when he took over halfway through the season.
"They only had eight points when they took charge, and it was a piece of a Herculean task to try and overcome that bad start.
"With a pre-season ahead of him, he will hopefully take the team forward and back up.
"Coaches are very important factors in players' decisions and along with David Wagner, Torsten is one of a new wave of German coaches making a name for themselves.
"Hopefully Jamie will learn a lot off him."
Maclaren was close to joining former Roar teammate Brandon Borrello at fellow 2.Bundesliga side Kaiserslautern but the deal fell through as the club slipped into a relegation battle, only ensuring their safety on the final day of the season.
Coach Norbert Meier has been on the nose with the club's often excitable fans and his tenuous position was also a factor in Maclaren going elsewhere.
Ironically, it was Meier who was sacked by Darmstadt in January, paving the way for Frings's arrival.
Having been named in Ange Postecoglou's provisional 30-man squad, Maclaren is hoping to make the cut next week for the Socceroos' final 25-man party ahead of June 8's World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia in Adelaide.
They also play Brazil in Melbourne next month before heading to Russia for the Confederations Cup, where their opening game is against Germany in Sochi.