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Relocating to Western Mass working in Westfield and planning on living in Northampton
Seeking advice: I am a (lesbian) professional in my early 30's that is moving to Western Mass to work as a professor. My partner and I are relocating from Los Angeles (West Hollywood) and people have suggested to live in Northampton. We are planning to make a trip there this month to look at real estate and hopefully buy a house. We will not move until later this summer. Looking online at real estate we found that housing is much cheaper in Westfield than in Northampton but I think the change will be hard going from a big city and a gay friendly area to a small town. Can anybody give me suggestions as to where to live around Westfield? Should we buy in Northampton? where in Northampton should we buy? We would like to buy a starter home in the 250-350k range. For us that is considerable cheaper than buying anything in Los Angeles. I also never really lived as an adult in a city where it snows, so I am wondering about snow removal, shoveling snow in winter, can you hire someone to do that or is that something as a homeowner you have to do yourself?
Any advise would be appreciated.
Northampton would probably be a good place. It's like having a city out in the middle of the countryside with lots and lots of artsy fun things to do and just about any activity you can think of. The downtown is great and the people are nice. The only thing it lacks is the ocean -- your closest ocean beach would be in CT about 2 hours away.
You do have to put up with a high ratio of students to adults which can be a big negative but it's not as bad as Amherst, across the river.
Anywhere in Northampton is good to live in and you could probably find a house in your range.
As for snow, you can shovel a little bit yourself but when there's a real snowstorm you have someone who comes automatically with a snow plow. It can get expensive but it's well worth it.
Westfield is a fine New England town, that is very tolerant of others- however I feel Northampton is one of the nicest small cities in the USA for gay people to live.
The Main street is wonderful, with non chain coffee houses, book stores, cafes offering folk and bluegrass to Jazz, many boutiques, and ethnic restaurants of high quality. If coming from Los Angeles it will be the quintessential New England experience. The ''Pioneer Valley' of Western Mass is perhaps the most liberal area of the country. This extends north along the Connecticut river valley into Vermont, and south to Springfield and the Greater Hartford Connecticut area.
The change in climate will be perhaps the biggest factor you may have to overcome.
Mid / late April to mid/ late November is very pleasant. Summers are warm and toasty, with more humidity then you are used to in Southern CA--Autumns are beautiful. Winters typically begin in late November to early December - although climate change is taking some of the bite out of New England winters. Northampton's inland location will have more snow then areas to the south, and east in New England that are closer to the oceans moderating affects.
Northampton lies about 75 miles to the north of Connecticut beaches on Long Island sound- 90 miles from Boston, to the east and about 155 miles to the Cape Cod canal, to the south east. The southern Maine coast lies about 130 miles to the northeast.
Real estate will be higher in Northampton and neighboring Amherst then Westfield. But compared to California 250-350 K buys much.
Roads are cleaned quickly here- and natives are unfazed by 1 foot of snow. Winter in central New England ebbs by early April. Best car in Northampton- a Subaru. Best of luck!
Last edited by skytrekker; 04-02-2008 at 07:25 PM..
I think that a quick trip will make it abundantly clear that Northampton is where you'll want to be. I've lived here for about 20 years and have found few places that combine the amenities of city life (great restaurants, live music, night life) with very very little of the city nastiness (dirt, noise, crime, homelessness). There is a HUGE lesbian population. Winter is a *****, no doubt about it. Coming from LA that's gonna be a transition for sure. There's no reason why you can't hire someone to clear your walkways, etc. and folks with pickups make a solid living plowing driveways all winter long. Sadly, my wife and I are moving this Summer to the North Shore (she's a professor too. She's leaving UMass and is starting at a private college). We haven't decided whether to sell or rent our house yet. If you'd like to take a look let me know. Best of luck John
I bet you would want to be in Northampton. There is much more going on and it is very lesbian friendly, more than any other place I have seen. It is also fairly walkable, which is nice, with a central and lively downtown area.
Also, there are more cultural things you could take advantage of if you are used to a big city's offerings. It is true that the rents/houses are more expensive here. If you can afford it though it would be worth it. If you want to spend less, near by Easthampton is cute and apparently up and coming. It seems to be the "next" place for those who have been priced out of Northampton. Both are easy commutes to Westfield. Things are so close together here, on the East Coast! I came from the west too, and that takes a bit of getting used to.
I have lived in Westfield for nearly 11 years having moved here from NE PA, so the winters weren't a new problem for me! I work in Easthampton and drive to work on route 10 which winds through Southampton and is a pleasant 12 mile drive. I agree with all the wonderful things people have said about Northampton, however the housing prices are much steeper and the center of town always seems like it's a snarl of traffic whenever I go there. Check out Southampton or Easthampton. That would put you between both work and play!
Hello. I just read your thread. My wife & young girls are moving to Western Mass. Have you taken the advice of bloggers and looked at North Hampton? I keep hearing Longmeadow, East Longmeadow, Wilbraham and No. Hampton.
My wife is a graphic designer, I'm a fine wine wholesaler. We're looking for a kind-of hip town to live in.
If anybody out there has any suggestions, thank you!! PL
I agree that the Northampton area may be a better fit. Yes, Northampton prices can be higher but you can live close to Northampton and still feel very comfortable as there is a large spill-over effect in the area.
Don't forget that not all homes are on the MLS. By including homes or condos that are for sale by owner, you will increase your chances of finding a home at a reasonable cost. Prices are pretty reasonable: an upscale condo right in downtown Northampton for around $210,000 - $226,000 or a 2 bedroom in historic Laurel Park (former Methodist camp) for $172,000. Ten minutes from NoHo you can find an updated classic 4 bedroom New England farmhouse (complete with energy efficient clothesline!) for just under $300,000.
Start by getting an MLS feed of properties in the surrounding communities of Northampton, Easthampton, Haydenville, Sunderland, Amherst, Williamsburg, Florence, etc. Do the same for homes that are for-sale-by-owner. If you contact me I can give you some ways to narrow the list and find good local resources.
I was intrested in your posting regarding your house. I wanted to know if you will be renting it out? My husand is in the military and he received orders to Westfield. He leaves in Oct and my 2 children and myself will leave in june,july time frame. Are you near Westfield? I need a at least a 3BDR 2BTH. Hope to hear from you. Susie Rodriguez
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