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Retire in Amherst, Massachusetts?
Overview: Stimulating, youthful Amherst sits in a region known as Happy Valley in rural western Massachusetts, just on the edge of the Berkshire Mountains, and it may be one of the most progressive places in the United States. Home to Amherst College (population 1,800), the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (population 30,000) and Hampshire College (population 1,500), the city's collegiate character, rich history and abundant culture are evident on every corner.
The downtown has industrial, red brick buildings that now house an eclectic mix of cafes, galleries, mom and pop retailers and restaurants. The Emily Dickinson Museum, also downtown, sponsors poetry readings and discussion groups. The Amherst Cinema plays first-run art and independent films, and the Yiddish Book Center and Eric Carle's Museum of Picture Book Art host exhibits and classes. Residents enjoy a fun farmers' market and an Arts Night, and the city's public library houses special collections of Amherst Authors. Between the three colleges, there is always a workshop, lecture or play to catch. Housing stock includes quintessential New England farmhouses, Cape Cods, bungalows, Colonials and some ranch ramblers.
The city manages an aquatic center, a golf course, 80 miles of foot trails and 1,965 acres of conservation land. Recreation in conservation areas includes fishing, hiking, camping, and swimming. Nearby Mount Holyoke Range State Park offers horseback riding and cross-country skiing.
Population: 40,000 (city proper)
Percentage of Population Age 45 or Better: 20%
Cost of Living: 32% above the national average
Median Home Price: $315,000
Climate: Summer temperatures are in the 70s and 80s, and winter temperatures are in the teens, 20s and 30s. On average, the area receives 45 inches of rain and 43 inches of snow every year. Winters are overcast, and ice storms happen.
At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients? No, but Cooley Dickinson Hospital, about six miles away in Northampton, accepts Medicare patients.
At Least One Hospital Accredited by Joint Commission? No, but Cooley Dickinson Hospital, aboutsix miles away in Northampton, is accredited.
Public Transit: Yes, a bus system and a trolley downtown
Crime Rate: Below the national average
Public Library: Yes
Political Leanings: Very liberal
Is Massachusetts Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement? No
Cons: The poverty rate is above the national average, but this is attributed to the large student population.
Notes: UMass is sometimes called ZooMass and has a party reputation. Students do say, however, that things have quieted down in recent years. The city has grown by 12% within the last decade or two.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes
The Mayflower made landfall here in 1620, and colonist John Smith named the area Massachusetts after a local Native American tribe. After many of the ship's settlers died during the first winter, these Native Americans showed the remaining Europeans how to plant corn and survive the harsh conditions, leading to the country's first "thanks giving."
Harvard University was established in Cambridge in 1636, becoming the nation's first institution of higher learning. In 1692, 19 people were hanged at Salem's Gallows Hill for practicing witchcraft.
The Boston Tea Party, the Boston Massacre and the Battles of Lexington and Concord all happened here. The American Industrial Revolution was sparked by Massachusett's textile mills.
A Springfield gym teacher invented basketball in 1891, and, perhaps most importantly of all, the chocolate chip cookie was invented in 1930 at Whitman's Toll House Restaurant.
Today, 80% of Massachusetts' residents live in the Boston area.
Population - 6,811,779
Persons 65 years old and over - 16%
High school graduates, persons age 25+ - 90%
Bachelor's degree or higher, persons age 25+ - 40%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin - 11%
White persons, not Hispanic - 73%
Median household income - $68,525
Median home value - $333,100
Social Security taxed? No
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
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