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10 Things to Know About Living in Amherst, MA

10 Things to Know About Living in Amherst, MA Written by Allie Gardner

Amherst, MA, has a long history as a college town. Over the years, it has earned its status as the second-best college town in Massachusetts (behind Cambridge) and the 26th-best in the United States.

With its stunning scenery, farms, and about 40,000 residents, Amherst is a wonderful area to live in. If you enjoy variety in your daily life as well as the beauty of the outdoors, you will appreciate living in this area.

Let’s talk about ten things to know about living in Amherst, MA!

1. Amherst is home to 5 prestigious colleges

There are five colleges within a 30-mile radius of downtown Amherst. They include Amherst College, the University of Massachusetts, Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, and Hampshire College.

Politically and socially, this town is far more progressive than the average New England college town. One of the reasons is that Amherst’s educated residents have left their mark on the local culture.

During the academic year, Amherst’s population increases. And this adds to the liveliness of the town, especially on weekends with its vibrant nightlife, giving the city a youthful, exciting vibe.

2. Amherst is close to Boston and Springfield

The drive time from Amherst to Boston is roughly 1 hour and 45 minutes. Also, Springfield, which is the state’s second-largest city, is only about 30 minutes away from Amherst.

The proximity of Amherst to these major metropolitan areas makes it easy for its residents to access these cities for employment opportunities, shop at larger malls, or simply experience something other than the town’s familiar rural setting.

3. Get a job in the education sector

In Amherst, one can find numerous job opportunities. Being a college town means that many of the available jobs are in the education sector. However, the city also offers a wide variety of job options in other fields, such as medicine, science, agriculture, travel, and tourism.

Amherst is also a great place for starting and growing a small business. You may, perhaps, start a small business in this area rather than looking for employment.

The unemployment rate in Amherst is 3.2%, which is lower than the national average.

4. It has a thriving agriculture industry

Amherst’s vibrant character is found in the town’s bountiful agricultural landscape, which features more than 50 operating farms and 2,000 acres of protected farmland. This provides a healthy counterpoint to the town’s heavy emphasis on academics.

Apples, sweet corn, and cranberries are just a few of the important agricultural products in this region. Raising cattle is also common here. And this means that fresh milk and yogurt are always within reach. Furthermore, you are exposed to breathing clean air.

The growing agricultural economy not only makes fresh, locally grown food available but also provides employment opportunities.

5. The city is quite diverse

Since Amherst is a college town, its population diversity is not surprising. The town’s citizens and students come from all over the world, and their cultural differences are reflected in the wide variety of artistic expressions, social gatherings, and culinary specialties available.

You can eat unique versions of dishes from China, Mexico, Japan, Nigeria, Vietnam, the United States, India, and Italy at any of the many restaurants in town. It’s safe to say, anybody can feel at home in Amherst. 

6. Enjoy outdoor activities at Puffers Pond

Amherst isn’t exactly bursting at the seams with entertainment options. However, Puffer Pond is a great place to take your family and engage in a variety of outdoor activities together.

Puffers Pond is the largest pond in Amherst, and you can enjoy lots of outdoor activities here. These include fishing, birdwatching, swimming, hiking, canoeing, and picnicking.

7. There are 7 museums in Amherst

 Amherst is home to seven different museums and art galleries. The Emily Dickinson Museum, the Russian Center Art Gallery, the Eli Marsh Art Gallery, the Wilder Observatory, and the Bassett Planetarium are all included in this group.

Archives and Special Collections also offer year-round displays of unique and historical materials. You can take your kids to any of these museums, where they can learn more about history and their environment.

8. The city has a good transport system

Amherst’s people have access to a wide variety of public transportation options for getting around town. You can also travel in and out of the city by train. 

At Union Station in Springfield, you can catch a train or bus that will take you to New York or Washington, DC. With the numerous modes of transportation, it’s almost impossible to become stranded in Amherst.

9. There are not many things to do or places to go

Amherst does not offer a lot of entertainment options. Trails for riding and hiking are available, but other outdoor pursuits are limited because the town’s primary focus is education.

Amherst’s main tourist attractions are its libraries and museums. If you value finding a good social and academic balance for your kids and teenagers, you may not enjoy living here.

10. Housing costs are higher than the national average 

Because of the large student population, finding a place to live in Amherst might be challenging. Students fill most of the homes here.

Additionally, real estate costs are high. The median house price in this area is $458,230, which is considerably more than the national median. This is something to think about if you’re relocating from a city with cheaper housing costs.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a college town where you can immerse yourself in a new culture while also being surrounded by stunning natural beauty and breathing in clean air, then Amherst is the place for you. You might not like being here, though, if you find yourself bored easily and are concerned about the availability of affordable accommodation.

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