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Amherst ranks among 50 best college towns


Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

College Values Online recently selected Amherst to be included on its list of the 50 Best Small College Towns in America, ranking 27th.

The list, which was posted in July, scored each town based on its cost of living, unemployment rate, crime rate and “wow factor,” according to the organization’s website. Points were donned if the cost of living, unemployment rate or crime rate was below either the state or national average.

Point totals ranged between two for Valdosta, Georgia, which was ranked 50th, and seven for Laramie, Wyoming which was ranked 1st. Amherst received three points.

“While there are many opportunities for employment in this community, nearly half of Amherst’s residents are college students, and the institutions they attend provide most of its jobs,” the ranking notes. “The cost of living is above the national average, but this town enjoys a relatively high medium income and a very low crime rate.”

In cases where towns received the same amount of points, College Values Online listed them in reverse alphabetical order by town name. Twelve other towns received three points alongside Amherst.

Many students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst feel the title is well-deserved.

Marlena Nikosey, an undeclared freshman, is new to the area but has already discovered much of its charm. She has explored a few restaurants and stores with her parents, and said they enjoyed just walking around and taking in the atmosphere. Nikosey said the town is thriving in the fall, and “has that typical New England town feel.”

Michael Brandon, a junior chemical engineering major, agrees with Nikosey, saying that he appreciates the town’s diversity.

“My friends have a lot of different interests and it’s usually pretty easy to find something downtown that will make everyone happy,” he explained.

Amherst offers a wide range of beloved restaurants, from the casual Antonio’s Pizza to the sit-down, family-oriented Judie’s Restaurant.

Amherst is not only known for its beautiful landscape but also for the social consciousness and activism of its residents. Those living in the Five College area are generally considered to be very liberal, the ranking notes, and active in political and social issues.

For example, Claire Moss, a junior public health major, loves how many of her favorite cafés offer fair-trade coffee and place a priority in attaining products locally.

Another plus side for Moss is downtown Amherst’s proximity to the UMass campus.

“Downtown is very accessible from here, which is great,” Moss said. “I can ride my bike, and the PVTA and public transportation is also always a great option.”

College Values Online recognizes that the towns in their ranking each strive to improve for the benefit of the students, which set them apart from so many other small college towns.

“Each (town) is in a constant state of improvement as they seek to create the best quality of life for students and residents alike and maintain their reputation among the best college towns in the (United States).”

Emma Martin can be reached at

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