Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!
Leafy Northampton is at the Base of the Berkshires and Has a Collegiate Vibe, a Lively Downtown and a Bounty of Amenities
Nestled at the foot of the Berkshires in leafy, rural western Massachusetts, understated Northampton's nickname is Paradise City, and it is the home of Smith College, a prestigious, private women's liberal arts college with 2,600 students. Alumnae include Julia Child, Nancy Reagan, Sylvia Plath and Gloria Steinem.
The collegiate flavor is unmistakable, with lectures, workshops, plays and events in abundance. The number of performance venues and restaurants is greater per capita than in most big cities. The lively downtown is lined with attached, awning-draped red and blond brick buildings that are home to bookstores, ice cream shops, clothiers, galleries and more. The city's Academy of Music has hosted Harry Houdini and the annual Django in June Festival (a gypsy jazz music camp). The Pioneer Valley Ballet is known for its rich, inspiring performances. Smith College's art museum and botanic garden are soothing places to spend an afternoon. The Forbes Library presents dance demonstrations, author readings and discussion groups. Residents enjoy two farmers' markets.
Greenways and conservation areas dot the city, with 21% of Northampton's land protected as open space. The 150-acre Look Park has a steamer railroad, paddle boats, and an amphitheater.
Neighborhoods are compact, tree-lined and nicely kept. Home styles include Cape Cod, salt box, Queen Anne, Colonial, Craftsman, bungalow and ranch rambler.
Population: 30,000 (city proper)
Age 45 or Better: 37%
Cost of Living: 2% above the national average
Median Home Price: $425,000
Climate: Summer temperatures are in the 70s and 80s. Winter temperatures are in the teens and 20s. On average, the area receives 45 inches of rain and 50 inches of snow per year. Falls foliage is spectacular.
At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients? Yes
At Least One Hospital Accredited by Joint Commission? Yes
Public Transit: Yes
Crime Rate: Meets the national average
Public Library: Yes, and the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library is on the second floor.
Political Leanings: Very liberal
College Educated: 58%
Is Massachusetts Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement? No
Notes: Northampton has been the filming location for dozens of movies, including Carnal Knowlege, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and The Cider House Rules. The city has maintained its population during the last decade. Home prices have held steady since last year.
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.
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