This college town is home to 5 top-notch colleges, including Amherst College, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Mt. Holyoke and Smith. Retirees with a bent toward learning can take continuing education classes at any of these institutions, or sign up for the Five College Learning in Retirement program, a joint venture among the 5 schools that offer a variety of lectures, courses and special interest programs that cover topics like literature, culinary arts and travel.
The cost of living in Northampton is slightly higher than the national average, and the median home prices is $228,000. The town is extremely safe, with a crime rate that’s 70% lower than the national average.
Winters in Northampton are cold and snowy, though the town enjoys beautiful fall, spring and summer seasons. Fall in particular is lovely, and a great time for retirees to go “leaf peeping” throughout the region and enjoy the changing colors of the Berkshire’s forests.
Con: Not all retirees may feel comfortable in the uber-liberal environment
Best For: Intellectuals and hippies
Cost of Living: 12% higher than national average
Median Home Cost: $228,000
Top State Income Tax: 5.25%
Crime Rate: 70% lower than national average
The town’s rich cultural scene is bolstered by performances at Smith College’s New Century Theatre, the Paradise City Arts Festival, the Northampton Independent Film Festival and the town’s Academy of Music.
Outdoor lovers won’t be disappointed, either. The town is near the Berkshire Mountains, and just a few minutes from the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary, a haven for bikers and hikers with 25 miles of trails.
Foodies will enjoy their fair share of farm-to-table restaurants, as well as a number of ethnic eateries, such as Tibetan, Thai and Vietnamese, thanks in large part to the eclectic tastes of the town’s student population.
Retirees will enjoy wandering the charming, historic downtown, where a number of independently owned bookshops, coffee shops and boutiques line the streets.