Moving to Amherst

Archived Q&A and Reviews

See also: Massachusetts Places

June 2003

I am moving with my family (husband and two children - ages 9 and 5.5) to Amherst, Massachusetts. Does anyone have any insights or comments on what it's like to live there? (I have already checked and read the website comments.) Alison

My oldest friend from school and her husband moved to Amherst several years back and now have a toddler. And my husband went to college nearby. Every time we visit I'm impressed with both the charm and the friendliness of the town. They bought a lovely 3 story 6 bedroom house for $250k that's an eight minute walk to work for dad. They've found good childcare and many fun children's activities, and made many great new friends in the area. I think the biggest challenge for my friend, aside from being so far from her family in California, was surviving East Coast winters. She hadn't had a chance to make any new friends when they were effectively stuck inside all winter and she became quite depressed for a period of time. She advises to get your network started before the cold months set in and if possible, plan a vacation to a warmer locale in the February/March timeframe. Good luck with your move and enjoy! Kate

Hi, I went to UMass Amherst, MA for grad school. It is a beautiful place and we loved living there esp fall. THis was more than 7 years ago, so things may have changed, but my feeling was that Amherst and Pioneer valley in general seemed very progressive. In fact when I moved to the Bay Area, I thought Berkeley was like AMherst with better weather conditions (at least winter :)

But on a more practical side here a couple of links collected by students of CS dept -- hopefully you will find them useful: Best, Bharathi

I lived in Amherst while attending UMass quite a few years ago, so I don't know what the current cost of living is there. I did want to let you know about the weather. The winters can be very, very cold. I grew up near the coast of Massachusetts, and was not prepared for the weather inland in Amherst. You are welcome to email me if you want any suggestions regarding outfitting your family and your car for the winters. Elaine

I went to school in the Amherst area and lived there for some time thereafter -- about 11 years all told. I loved it and would move back there in a second. This was about 20 years ago but I've been back to visit and it hasn't changed all that much. There is a lot going there culturally, politically, artistically, due to the academic communities (5 very good schools in the immediate vicinity). You don't have to go too far outside of town (whether that is Amherst or Northampton) before you are in the country -- gentle hills, beautiful lakes, rivers, and streams. You get real seasons, not just this California greean and brown stuff. New York City and Boston are both close, but not too close (Boston about an hour and a half, New York about three hours). I think housing prices have spiked a bit there (like anywhere), but not like here. A couple of friends of mine recently bought a beautiful 3 bedroom farmhouse a bit off the beaten track for something like 200K. I have heard that the schools are very good, but I wasn't a parent at the time so I wasn't really paying attention to that kind of stuff. Good luck -- you will love it there. Dan

My friend and her family relocated from the Bay Area to Amherst last summer. Here are her thoughts on Amherst:

I moved to Amherst last August with 2 boys 3 and 7. The schools here are wonderful! My son has a special teacher for art, music, PE, plus a full time librarian. He goes to Wildwood which I highly recommend. In general, it's a great place to raise kids.

It's very liberal -- not much different from living in Berkeley in that sense -- the Amherst town meeting makes foreign policy.

Housing is of course loads cheaper than in the bay area -- we live in a 4-bedroom house! But in Amherst prices are alot more expensive than in the surrounding communities. The cost of living otherwise seems about the same as the bay area. Restaurants are a disappointment for anyone who has lived in Berkeley -- but you learn to live with it.

The weather this year was simply beyond belief -- cold, snow, followed by incessant rain during spring, followed by heat and humidity. But everyone tells us that each of these seasons aren't typical. good luck

June 2002

Hi. My husband, 10 month old and I are seriously considering a move to Amherst or Northampton to be closer to our East Coast family. We would love any details on what living there is really like for a thirty-something family. Thanks! amy

I went to UMASS Amherst about 15 years ago. The Amherst area is an idyllic setting. It is the archetypal New England town. There are 5 colleges in the area so there are heaps of cultural events going on and big-name musicians will play there (I recall REM and Joe Jackson way back then). The only down side is would you be able to get a job there. No one wants to leave so there are not alot of job openings at the University. Sharon

May 2002

Hi, I have a 15-month-old and will be moving to Amherst, MA, in a few months. Can anyone recommend fun things to do or places to go with a toddler? Also, does anyone know of a similar parents network there? I'd be grateful for any input. Thanks! Lynette

amherst and the surrounding areas are filled with toddler/child/family friendly activities. one place to start is the jones library in amherst center, there are listings for music classes, play groups, etc., and they have a great children's section, replete with a train table and activity boxes full of toys, books, videos, and music that you can check out. there is also a family center in n. amherst, that doesn't have summer hours, but is open during the school year. it's considerably smaller than the bay area, but there are many things to do and there exists plenty of community there. enjoy. kiita