What do locals like about Amherst?
Is Amherst a nice place to live for single people?
Yup, I loved living in Amherst. I lived about a mile and a half from downtown after college. (And I went to UMass.)
There's a good mix of stuff to do/places to go while also having the niceness of safe walking/hiking/biking.
I'm going to put in the disclaimer that I'm generally answering these question as "Amherst area" because Amherst and route 9 in Hadley (where the mall and a lot of the shopping is) kind of just blend together.
How expensive is the cost of living? (From what I understand, it's much more affordable than Boston.)
Definitely a lot more affordable than Boston (most of western Mass is) but rent-wise, parts of Amherst proper can be more expensive than the surrounding towns. (But it's not that hard to find affordable rooms in shared houses or reasonable apartments.)
Like a lot of places, cost of living can be cheaper or more expensive depending on your choices. There's a Whole Foods and a Trader Joe's in Hadley nearby, but there's also a Target with expanded grocery and an Aldi. So someone who's looking more to save money might hit the latter for groceries, while others might go with the former. The nice thing about
How good are the winters? And how much snow does the town average? (I really enjoy snowy places.)
Winters are New Englandy. There's usually plenty of snow, though not as much as in some parts of upper VT/NY/ME. Google says an average of 39 inches per year. (Higher than the US average of 26.)
Um. They have them.. I didn't really ever get involved in that side of stuff, tbh. I was still largely involved in college and post-college social circles when I lived there.
But I see signs sometimes for various community meetings and such. I know there are theater groups and dance groups and yoga stuff and political rallies and bands and whatnot.
One of the big things with Amherst that's a little weird is that there are kinda two Amhersts co-existing. Because UMass and Amherst college are both there, there's a LOT of difference between Permanent Amherst and College Amherst. (And, to that end, between Summer Amherst and School's-in-Session Amherst.)
My experience is largely with College Amherst, and I only lived there for a year after college, so I didn't really see the "settle down / put roots here" side. But it's there, for sure.
Amherst to me always feels a little bit transient because there are a lot of college kids coming and going, but it's also kind nice. It makes things feel like they're shifting and changing in a positive way, and Amherst feels like a more hopeful idealistic version of Northampton to me.
Haha.. almost exclusively. Amherst is big on uniqueness. And the chains that are there are mostly like "this is technically a chain, but it only has 5 restaurants and they're all in Mass" or whatnot. With the exception of a few national chains that I always forget are there (Subway and Starbucks, maybe a couple others?) because I never go to them and no one I know in Amherst is ever like, "Let's go to Starbucks." You'd go to Amherst Coffee or Rao's.
Is Amherst the kind of place where community thrives?
Yes, depending on what kind of community. Amherst is wicked liberal, so if you're looking for conservative community.. maybe not so much. But I've heard that church communities also do fine as long as people are open and accepting, not angry hate types.
Amherst is awesome. I really liked living there, and since I'm only 15 minutes away now, I'm still out there with some regularity.
Where are you now?