I'm lucky to have been raised in the most beautiful place - Amherst, Massachusetts, state of my heart. I'm more patriotic to Massachusetts than to almost any place. -Uma Thurman
The Best Thing About Amherst?
Community, with a heavy dose of university culture, is at the core of Amherst. Despite being a town dominated by universities though, and thus possessing a high temporary population during the school year, Amherst is home to plenty of folks who live their entire lives in the area or simply stay for life after going to school here. There are tons of volunteer opportunities and political gatherings (extremely liberal so if that ain't your thing then steer clear), to the countless private meetup groups, to the community events sponsored by town hall and the chamber of commerce, to the weekend farmer’s markets, Amherst is a town defined by its strong sense of community.
Unlike many college towns, the university population and the rest of the populace are well-integrated and generally on friendly terms, lending a strong sense of local identity to a somewhat isolated area.
A note from a local about living in Amherst:
It's a very community minded place! I'll also echo the other person in this thread who gave the "vote blue" disclaimer. The place is DEEP blue, so a lot of the community orientation revolves around liberal politics.
For more reviews of what living in Amherst is like from locals check out: The Buzz
The Worst Thing About Amherst?
Housing in Amherst is widely agreed by locals to be problematic. The parts of town surrounding university campuses in particular have been known to suffer increasingly high prices for both home ownership and rental. More and more local housing has been purchased to accommodate the high student populations, but some students report being housed in hotels and bussed to school in the morning. Add into this the fact that apartment rental rates have also gone up in light of the work-from-home boom of the past several years, Amherst, while still less expensive on the whole than the most of the rest of the country, particularly nearby New York and Boston, the prices can be surprisingly high. Additionally, actually finding a place to live can prove a time-consuming and costly endeavor. For this reason, it is recommended to secure housing before moving to Amherst.
Here are some notes from a local about some cons of living in Amherst:
I will say the tax situation is annoying in Amherst where the property taxes are considerably higher than the surrounding areas, and almost twice as much as Eastern MA.
Health care options are fine but not fantastic, there are a few urgent care centers but the quality of care is hit or miss. The closest hospital is a 20-25min drive. If you need a specialist your best bet would be to drive out to Burlington or Boston, about 1hr40min away, granted Boston has some of the best hospitals in the world. When school is in session, traffic can be a bit much in certain areas of town but overall it's not bad. There is also a good public transportation system, PVTA, in Amherst/surrounding areas
Lifestyle of Amherst
Amherst prides itself on making a wide array of lifestyles happen here. Students will naturally find much to entertain themselves with in the local college party scene, but working professional adults can also make it work with diverse bar and restaurant options. Amherst prides itself not only on farm-to-table cuisine but also local, independently-owned options over chain restaurants at every opportunity.
Hiking and cycling in the nearby forests gives locals a chance to commune with the gorgeous New England scenery, while those interested in high culture have museums dedicated to national history, art, literature, and natural history, as well as live music spots and theaters. Community events sponsored by the local library also provide entertainment for Amherst’s younger residents.
Check out the Amherst calendar of events to see what happens here throughout the year: https://www.amherstbulletin.com/Events#!/
Worklife of Amherst
As befitting a community-oriented city, much of the worklife of Amherst centers around giving back to the community. Amherst College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst provide work for professors, administrators, healthcare workers, and facilities workers, as does the local school district. The local service sector thrives due to the high number of locally-owned businesses. The agricultural sector employs countless workers, in part thanks to assistance from the universities’ respective agricultural science programs. And finally, the public sector, namely the public works department, the parks department, and the chamber of commerce, provide countless jobs for lifelong residents. If you are willing or looking to give back to your new home while you make your living, Amherst is the place for you.
Why You Should Move Here Now
The pristine natural beauty of western Massachusetts, vibrant public and private sectors of the economy, and friendly populace all add to the immense local charm of Amherst. If you're looking for a place to settle down and raise a family, a place to start over as a young single/couple professional, or a student hoping to start the next stage of your life, Amherst should make your shortlist.