Cost of Living Forum

AmherstNative @amherstnative
Joined: 14 days ago

Cost of Living in Amherst – Insights from Long-Time Residents?

I’ve lived in Amherst for over 20 years now, but I’m curious to hear fellow residents’ thoughts on the current cost of living situation in our city. As someone looking to potentially upgrade to a larger home for my growing family, I’m especially interested in housing costs (rents/mortgages for apartments of various sizes, both in the city center and suburbs). But I’d also love to get a sense of typical expenses for other major categories like food, utilities, transportation, healthcare, and entertainment.

What has your experience been with the overall affordability of living in Amherst? I remember costs being quite reasonable when I first moved here, but I’m not sure how they’ve evolved over the past couple of decades. I’d appreciate any insights you all can provide – both positive and negative – regarding the financial realities of residing in our city these days. Let’s have an open discussion!

Posts: 23

10 Replies

FrugalFoodieAMH @frugalfoodieamh
Joined: 6 months ago

As someone who loves good food but is also cost-conscious, I’ve found the grocery expenses in Amherst to be pretty reasonable overall. You can definitely find affordable staples like bread, rice, eggs, and produce if you know where to look. That said, eating out can get pricey – even fast food isn’t exactly cheap anymore. A meal for two at a mid-range restaurant will easily run you $80 or more after drinks/tips.

In terms of housing, it really depends on your expectations and budget. City center apartments (especially those with multiple bedrooms) can be very expensive, but you can find much better deals in the suburbs if you’re willing to have a bit of a commute. Utilities like electricity/heating also seem to be higher than I’d like, but that’s probably the case in most places these days.

Posts: 16
SoloSaverAMH @solosaveramh
Joined: 26 days ago

As a single person living in Amherst, I’ve generally found the cost of living to be quite manageable on my salary. My biggest expenses are definitely housing (I rent a modest 1-bedroom downtown for around $1200/month all included) and transportation (car payment, insurance, gas, etc.). But beyond that, I’m able to keep other costs like groceries, phone/internet, and entertainment pretty low by being careful.

I think Amherst has a good mix of affordable and upscale options depending on your lifestyle. You can definitely splurge on things like fancy coffee drinks or high-end gyms/activities if you want, but there are also plenty of cheap eats, parks, community centers etc. for those on a tighter budget. Healthcare costs are probably my biggest complaint – the prices seem high even with decent insurance. But overall, no major sticker shocks for me as a frugal single person in Amherst.

Posts: 9
FamilySpendingAMH @familyspendingamh
Joined: 9 months ago

With two working parents and three kids (one school-aged, two in daycare), our family’s expenses in Amherst are definitely on the higher side. Housing is probably our biggest monthly outlay – we pay around $2400 for a 3-bedroom rental house in a decent suburb. On top of that, childcare costs for the two little ones are simply astronomical at over $2000 per month for both.

That said, we actually find some other costs like groceries, utilities, and entertainment to be pretty reasonable compared to when we lived in a larger city. Being able to buy in bulk and cook at home helps a lot. We also take advantage of Amherst’s great parks, community pools, libraries etc. for affordable family activities.

My main complaint is probably healthcare – even with insurance through my employer, we seem to pay through the nose for routine treatments, medications, and the occasional emergency room visit. I worry about those costs as the kids get older too. But overall, Amherst is relatively affordable for a family if you’re smart about budgeting for the major expenses.

Posts: 12
YoungProfessionalAMH @youngprofessionalamh
Joined: 2 years ago

As a recent college grad working my first decent-paying job, I’ve been pretty happy with the affordability of living in Amherst so far. I rent a nice modern 1-bedroom apartment downtown for around $1100 per month, which is definitely pricey but more manageable than bigger cities.

Aside from housing, most of my expenditures are pretty low – I spend $200-300 per month on groceries by cooking for myself, $100 or so on utilities, $60 for my phone plan with lots of data, $40 for high-speed internet, etc. I live pretty frugally during the week but can afford to splurge a bit on weekends by going out to dinner, bars, movies etc. with friends.

My main complaints are probably housing prices for buying instead of renting (seems very expensive even for condos) and the cost of owning/operating a car (insurance, gas, maintenance). But by living compactly and taking advantage of Amherst’s decent public transit, I’m able to live comfortably on my modest income for now. We’ll see how things change if I decide to settle down and start a family!

Posts: 8
RetiredNeighborAMH @retiredneighboramh
Joined: 2 months ago

Having lived in Amherst for over 40 years, I’ve certainly seen the cost of living rise quite a bit, especially for housing and healthcare. Back in my day, you could rent a nice family home for just a few hundred bucks! Nowadays, it seems even tiny apartments go for obscene amounts unless you live far out in the suburbs.

That said, day-to-day expenses don’t seem too crazy for retirees like me and my wife. Our mortgage has been paid off for ages, and we live modestly enough that utilities, groceries, etc. are quite affordable. We do pay a lot for prescriptions and medical costs despite having insurance, which is frustrating.

Overall, I’d say Amherst is still relatively affordable for those on fixed incomes like Social Security, provided you bought your home long ago when prices were reasonable. It’s probably gotten much harder for younger folks and families though, which is really too bad. The city tries to have nice amenities without being outrageously expensive, but real estate has just gone through the roof in recent decades.

Posts: 10
StudyBrokeAMH @studybrokeamh
Joined: 12 months ago

Being a poor college student, I can’t really speak to major costs like housing and healthcare. But in terms of basics like food and entertainment, Amherst has been relatively affordable in my experience – much cheaper than the nearby big cities, at least!

I get by paying about $500 per month for a crummy but cheap apartment rental off-campus, sharing with two roommates. Groceries are inexpensive if you buy basic staples and take advantage of deals. Lots of affordable ethnic food options too. Utilities are pretty reasonable as well.

My biggest expenditures are probably transportation (campus parking fees, gas for my old beater car) and going out (drinks, cover charges etc. can add up quick). But you can also find tons of free/cheap entertainment around town if you know where to look.

Once I (hopefully) land a real job after graduation, I’ll have to re-evaluate whether I can still afford living in Amherst long-term. From what I’ve seen though, it’s a relatively low cost-of-living area compared to other places nearby. Just gotta be a broke student for now!

Posts: 19
DualIncomeNoPetsAMH @dualincomenopetsamh
Joined: 2 years ago

My husband and I are both professionals in our 30s with no kids, and we’ve found Amherst to be quite affordable on our dual incomes. We rent a nice 2-bedroom apartment downtown for around $1800 per month, which is pricey but allows us to live comfortably without roommates.

Aside from housing, our other major expenses are transportation (car payments, insurance, gas, etc.), entertainment (dining out, concerts/shows, vacations), and general leisure activities (gym memberships, golf/tennis clubs, etc.). Amherst has plenty of options in terms of both affordable and upscale choices for most categories.

Groceries are very reasonable if you shop smartly, and utilities are pretty standard from what I’ve seen. We take advantage of Amherst’s parks, museums, libraries etc. for cheap/free activities too. Overall, it’s on the affordable side for our comfortable but not extravagant DINK lifestyle.

My only complaint would be the high costs of certain healthcare services/medications despite having very good employer-provided insurance. But that’s likely an issue in most places nowadays. We’re quite content staying in Amherst for the foreseeable future!

Posts: 16
MovingMomAMH @movingmomamh
Joined: 16 days ago

As someone who just relocated to Amherst last year, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the relatively low cost of living here compared to where I moved from. With a moderate single income, I was able to buy a decent 3-bedroom home for under $300k in a family-friendly suburb. My mortgage payment is around $1800/month, which is much cheaper than renting something comparable back in my previous city.

That said, there are some added expenses I didn’t have before. Property taxes and utilities like electricity/heating seem pretty high. And my car insurance rates went up significantly after moving here. Groceries and gas are marginally cheaper though.

My biggest struggles are the costs of child care (around $1000/month for an infant at a daycare) and general household/maintenance costs that come with upgrading from a renter to a homeowner. But being able to live in a safe area with good schools makes it worth it.

Healthcare costs are also quite pricey from my initial experiences – I paid well over $500 just to have my second child in a hospital here! I was pretty staggered by that, having gotten used to lower medical costs elsewhere. But overall, Amherst feels very affordable for a decent quality of life compared to bigger cities I’ve lived in before.

Posts: 11
TechTycoonAMH @techtycoonamh
Joined: 5 months ago

As someone earning a very healthy tech salary, I’ll admit the cost of living in Amherst feels like an absolute steal compared to the major metro areas I’ve lived in before. I was able to buy a beautiful 4-bedroom house right in the city center for under $600k, which would easily be multiple millions in my previous locales.

Housing costs aside, most other expenses like groceries, utilities, transportation, entertainment etc. also feel very reasonable to me. I don’t really balk at restaurant prices, luxury gym memberships, or premium cable/internet packages. My main indulgences are probably my car (a decently high-end SUV) and frequent vacations.

That said, I do pay through the nose for quality healthcare coverage for my family, which is maybe my biggest gripe about costs in Amherst. And I can certainly understand how quickly expenses ramp up for essentials like housing and childcare if you’re making more average local salaries.

But for a well-compensated tech worker like myself, Amherst provides a very affluent lifestyle at a significant discount to bigger, trendier cities that my peers tend to flock towards. I feel like we get incredible bang for our buck in this relatively low cost of living area while still having most of the amenities we want.

Posts: 11
GrumpyOldManAMH @grumpyoldmanamh
Joined: 2 years ago

Kids these days have no idea how good they’ve got it… Back in my day, Amherst was dirt cheap to live in! I was able to buy my first home – a decent 3-bedroom place – for only $40,000 back in the 1970s. These days, you’re looking at 10x that amount! It’s criminal how expensive real estate has gotten.

Sure, some other costs like food and entertainment are still relatively inexpensive. But have you looked at property taxes lately? Or heating/electricity bills?? I’m getting fleeced. What happened to the good old days of affordable homeownership and reasonable utility costs?

Don’t even get me started on healthcare expenses. I’m on Medicare now, but the premiums keep rising and rising every year, while my coverage gets worse and worse. Good luck affording quality care without going bankrupt if you’re a working person or retiree living on a fixed income these days.

I love Amherst and all, but the cost of living has just become outrageous for regular folks. Maybe I’m just an old grouch, but damn…it feels like all the financial security we used to have has been ripped away over the past few decades. The rich get richer while the rest of us struggle more and more each year. Where’s the fairness in that?

Posts: 19

Detailed Price Insights of Abilene, TX

  • Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant – 18.00 $
  • Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course – 80.00 $
  • McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal) – 12.00 $
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) – 5.95 $
  • Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) – 6.00 $
  • Cappuccino (regular) – 4.70 $
  • Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter bottle) – 2.20 $
  • Water (0.33 liter bottle) – 1.79 $
  • Milk (regular), (1 liter) – 0.97 $
  • Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g) – 3.76 $
  • Rice (white), (1kg) – 5.28 $
  • Eggs (regular) (12) – 3.56 $
  • Local Cheese (1kg) – 12.19 $
  • Chicken Fillets (1kg) – 11.31 $
  • Beef Round (1kg) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat) – 13.93 $
  • Apples (1kg) – 4.57 $
  • Banana (1kg) – 1.30 $
  • Oranges (1kg) – 4.89 $
  • Tomato (1kg) – 5.09 $
  • Potato (1kg) – 3.80 $
  • Onion (1kg) – 3.88 $
  • Lettuce (1 head) – 2.37 $
  • Water (1.5 liter bottle) – 2.63 $
  • Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) – 15.00 $
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle) – 1.73 $
  • Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) – 4.64 $
  • Cigarettes 20 Pack (Marlboro) – 11.00 $
  • Taxi Start (Normal Tariff) – 4.25 $
  • Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff) – 1.99 $
  • Taxi 1hour Waiting (Normal Tariff) – 30.00 $
  • Gasoline (1 liter) – 0.95 $
  • Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car) – 29,250.00 $
  • Toyota Corolla Sedan 1.6l 97kW Comfort (Or Equivalent New Car) – 25,932.07 $
  • Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment – 177.43 $
  • Mobile Phone Monthly Plan with Calls and 10GB+ Data – 44.15 $
  • Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL) – 66.41 $
  • Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult – 20.00 $
  • Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) – 20.00 $
  • Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat – 13.00 $
  • Preschool (or Kindergarten), Full Day, Private, Monthly for 1 Child – 1,100.00 $
  • International Primary School, Yearly for 1 Child – 17,625.00 $
  • 1 Pair of Jeans (Levis 501 Or Similar) – 55.62 $
  • 1 Summer Dress in a Chain Store (Zara, H&M, …) – 40.57 $
  • 1 Pair of Nike Running Shoes (Mid-Range) – 90.95 $
  • 1 Pair of Men Leather Business Shoes – 104.50 $
  • Mortgage Interest Rate in Percentages (%), Yearly, for 20 Years Fixed-Rate – 6.43
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