Amherst is the well-known home of Amherst College, Hampshire College and the University of Massachusetts. Living in Amherst puts you in the mix of students, professors and visitors from other states and countries. You'll find a cosmopolitan and pedestrian-friendly downtown with fun shops, bookstores and eateries---surrounded by farmlands, forests and acres of conservation land.
The Greater Amherst and Northampton Area has become an increasingly popular destination for visitors as well as for people seeking to settle here. Known as the “Five College Area,” it is home to Smith College, Hampshire College, Mt. Holyoke College, Hampshire College, Amherst College, the University of Massachusetts, and several community colleges. Northampton has been described as one of America’s top ten small arts cities by national magazines. It has also built a reputation as one of the best places in the country for a quality of life that embraces community, education, diversity and outdoor activities. Whether you choose to live right in our bustling downtown or in one of the surrounding towns that nestle in the hills on both sides of the Connecticut River, Northampton is the heart of the “Pioneer Valley”. For information on the other towns in our coverage area of Hampshire and Franklin Counties, we have included a brief description of each town. They are listed in alphabetical order.
Would you love to live near a beautiful lake? Ashfield attracts artists and professionals alike to its closely-knit community.Farms and orchards dot the landscape. With a wonderfully historic town center and scenic hills, Ashfield is just 25 minutes to Rt. 91.
Originally known as "Cold Spring". Belchertown begins where the eastern outskirts of Amherst end. Property prices tend to become more affordable as one gets further away from the town centers of Amherst and Northampton. While not far from downtown Amherst, the sprawling fields and woodlands of Belchertown are a good place to look for a more affordable home. Belchertown also has many homes on newer streets which have outstanding views. This is a wonderful town to invest in for commuting to Boston, Worcester, Amherst, Springfield and Northampton.
Bernardston is just north of Greenfield, offering proximity to some of the area's excellent preparatory schools such as Stoneleigh-Burnham and Northfield-Mt. Hermon. Bernardston is rural with some opportunities to buy affordable homes, as well as higher-end properties with views of the hills.
Buckland is one of the "hilliest" of the hilltowns! Across the famous "Bridge of Flowers " from Shelburne Falls, Buckland extends up into the hills near ski areas like Berkshire East. A Buckland lifestyle offers wilderness and nature galore. Dramatic hills, with antique farmhouses along the river and lots of wildlife, make Buckland a lovely place to enjoy a lifestyle away from the crowd.
Charlemont is Buckland's next-door neighbor, but a bit more on the "beaten path", as its town center is clustered around Route 2, the historic Mohawk Trail and main route from Greenfield to the western border of Massachusetts. Attracting tourists for "leaf-peeping" and whitewater adventures on the beautiful upper portion of the Deerfield River, Charlemont has a few stores and restaurants in its center, but most residents enjoy privacy on its quiet country roads.
Bordering Williamsburg and Worthington, Chesterfield is sparsely populated and quite rural. Residents value its unspoiled scenic beauty and extensive woodlands as well as the dramatically beautiful Chesterfield Gorge.
Conway is a beautiful mix of wooded hills and open farmland. Many of its scenic views are protected from development, insuring that the rural character of the town will be preserved. A friendly, active and and diverse community, beautiful homes, and convenience to Northampton make Conway a sought-after location. It is the closest hilltown to Rt. 91.
Cummington is home to a renowned town fair in the autumn, with many visitors coming to see the old-fashioned horse pulls and sheep dog trials. The general store, which sells organic foods and the products of the many local artisans (as well as life's necessities like good coffee and gasoline!) has a bulletin board where residents note wildlife sightings. It's not uncommon to see bear, moose and mountain lions on the list!
Deerfield is one of the most historic towns in the United States, having been settled very early in our country's history. Along with Old Deerfield, (home to Deerfield Academy, Eaglebrook and the Bement School) the Deerfields include South Deerfield, the main town, and the less formally defined areas of West and East Deerfield. With the Deerfield River flowing through farmlands and gentle hills, this area's attractions include Mt. Sugarloaf, Yankee Candle and the Butterfly Conservatory.
Tucked at the base of Mt. Tom, Easthampton has been transforming itself from a mill town to a lively center of arts and culture. As Northampton's popularity (and property values!) have steadily increased, many people have opted to buy homes in close and convenient Easthampton, the home of Williston Academy.
Florence is one of the "villages" of Greater Northampton, close to downtown Northampton, but with its own community character and downtown area. Florence enjoys Look Park which is a wonderful community park with tennis courts, paddle boats, geese, marvelous picnicking areas, etc., the famous Miss Flo's Diner, the bike trail that goes from Florence to Northampton and beyond, and wonderful small shops.
Known for its native "Goshen Stone" and its rustic hills, Goshen is home to the DAR State Forest, where natives enjoy summer swimming in the "Goshen Ocean". Highland Lake and Hammond Pond with their beautiful summer cottages. Cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, horseback riding and hiking are some of the favorite pursuits of Goshen residents.
Greenfield is the largest city in Franklin County, and has a lively main street with shops and a large, old-fashioned department store called Wilson's. Homes are generally more affordable here. Many are finely crafted with beautiful woodwork and traditional elegance. Greenfield Community College has an excellent 2 year program, and is nestled at the starting point of the famous Mohawk Trail (Route 2). Poet's Seat Park with its tower is a lovely retreat, and offers panoramic views of the town and Berkshire Hills beyond. Everything you need is at your fingertips within the center of town (including a delightful farmers' market on Saturdays during the growing season).
Situated along the Connecticut River between Northampton and Amherst, Hadley's fertile fields are the bread basket of the Pioneer Valley. Boasting wonderfully restored Colonial homes along its wide main streets, Hadley is home to academics and farmers alike, and is valued for its convenient location.
Hatfield's mostly flat topography lends itself to the farms that have been its mainstay for centuries. Berries, vegetables, corn, cucumbers, and other crops are still produced in abundance. Hatfield's Main Street is a picturesque avenue parallel to the Connecticut River, boasting gorgeous old colonial and Victorian homes, displaying all the splendor of their history. Hatfield has its own self-contained school system with a new elementary school. Peaceful, carefree living with small town advantages. Walking is a way of life in Hatfield with miles of sidewalks, farm roads through the fields, and the dike along the Connecticut River. Hatfield is highly sought after due to quality of life and location. Five-minute drive to access Route 91 (north or south).
Haydenville is a "village" in Williamsburg, the closest part to Northampton along Rt. 9. It has its own small center, and a fascinating history as one of the mill towns along the Mill River. The first button shop in the United States was built and operated in Haydenville on the Mill River.
Holyoke is actually part of Hampden county, just south of Easthampton and Northampton. We include it as part of our coverage area because many people are finding its location to be extremely convenient to Northampton, as well as Rt. 91 north and south. Previously an area with rather low property values, Holyoke is finding favor with people who want to be close to Northampton, but choose not to pay the premium that Northampton housing demands. Considered most desirable are the Holyoke "Highlands", the northwestern part of the city.
Huntington gains much of its rugged character from the Westfield River, which rushes through its hills. Situated between Westhampton and Westfield (which is in Hampden County), it offers proximity to Berkshire County as well.
Leeds is 4 miles from Northampton, and is another of Greater Northampton's "villages".
Leverett borders the outskirts of Amherst. Wooded hills interspersed with some small farms make up this town. With rocky soil and lots of trees, Leverett relied on its sawmills for much of its past. Now you might find a Hampshire College professor in an old farmhouse, living next door to a weaver in a contemporary house, who raises sheep in the backyard. Eclectic and interesting, Leverett is home to a well-known artist's cooperative and the "Peace Pagoda." It is part of the Amherst Regional Middle and High Schools.
Conveniently located between Sunderland and Greenfield, the town of Montague does not deserve to be overlooked. "Montague Center" is a charming rural center just ten minutes from Rt. 91 and fifteen minutes to Amherst. A bookstore, restaurant and entertainment venue perch above the dramatic waterfalls near the town center. The "Montague City" area is further north towards Greenfield. Montague also includes the "village" of Turner's Falls.
The center of the universe
Pelham starts on the southeastern border of Amherst and climbs uphill out towards the Quabbin Reservoir. There are woods and an occasional farm. It is part of Amherst Regional Middle and High Schools.
Move to Plainfield if you want to live in a small, friendly village, far from hectic life, surrounded by open fields.
Ten minutes from Greenfield, Shelburne Falls has it all! Set against a dramatic backdrop of towering hills, the town overlooks the famous "Potholes" of the Deerfield River. The friendly village is bustling with artists, restaurants and many shops. Culturally alive and geographically blessed, Shelburne is attracting more people to its Northampton-like qualities--- refreshed with a big dose of country charm.
South Hadley is home to Mt. Holyoke College. Graced by the elegant and venerable architecture of the college, the town center hosts a charming collection of shops and restaurants. A wonderful (locally-owned!) bookstore attracts well-known writers for readings, while the college offers lectures and performances. South Hadley offers numerous condominium complexes, and more affordable housing in the "South Hadley Falls" part of town.
Southampton is one of the lesser-known "Hamptons." Quiet, peaceful and scenic, Southampton is close to Northampton as well the Massachusetts Turnpike in Westfield. Orchards and horse farms are typical aspects of Southampton's landscape. There are also subdivisions of newer construction.
Sunderland is a charming and historic farming town, which, because of its closeness to Amherst and the University of Massachusetts, has many apartment buildings and a free bus system. It is a mix of local folks and academics. It is not only close to Amherst, but only 2 miles to Route 91, making it an easy commute to Northampton, Greenfield and Springfield. Sunderland's main street has some of the most beautiful antique homes in the area, surrounded by fertile fields and framed by the Connecticut River and hills such as Mt. Sugarloaf. It's great for bike riding too.
Westhampton was founded by Nathan Hale's preacher brother, and the church continues to be a uniting social force in this close-knit, politically active rural town. Westhampton-ites care deeply about their neighbors, whether across town or around the globe. Without a single bar or gas station, the hub of commerce in Westhampton is an orchard farm store, and you are as likely to see a horse-drawn carriage traveling its hilly roads as a BMW.
Whately is another small town conveniently close to Northampton on Rt. 91, and bordering Williamsburg, a Whately property could be an expansive farm on the plains or a private hilltop retreat.
Williamsburg is a mere 8 miles from Northampton, and its charm and scenery make it worth the short drive. The landmark Williamsburg General Store entices residents and tourists alike with the fragrance of fresh baked goods. Williamsburg residents often have a commitment to land preservation, education and community. The Meekins Library in the center of town is one of the major focal points of Williamsburg's community life. With in-town services from groceries to gasoline, you will not need to go elsewhere--and living in Williamsburg, why would you want to?
Drive down a main road in Worthington, and you are likely to see at least a 180-degree panorama of hayfields, woods and hills below. In Worthington you are on top of the world. It is a bit of a distance to reach the hustle and bustle of Northampton, but Worthington residents would not have it any other way.