Amherst Housing Blog

Welcome to the Amherst Housing Blog! Here you can follow my search for adequate housing, learn a few tricks, avoid scams, get the low down on the rental scene, and post your own stories. This is meant to help all of you through the process and to keep these often wealthy, often unscrupulous landlords in check!! See sister Amherst Life Blog -

Monday, August 14, 2006

Office Spaces in the Pioneer Valley

It has come to my attention via email ( that many of you faithful Amherst Housing Blog readers are also interested in local office spaces. The problem seems to be that Pioneer Valley space owners think they can charge Boston prices for offices that would do anything but attract customers, allow you to work on your manuscript, meditate, or whatever else one does in an office these days...

So, after visiting several local agencies and checking out the scene with private renters, I have come to the conclusion that:

1. Prices & quality around here are indeed ridiculous
2. I must include the hunt for office spaces as a blog side-topic
3. There is a solution!

You are aware of the first two conclusions, so I will jump to the third, and for that I only need to mention one name: Carol Benson. Carol owns a wide variety of high quality, affordable office spaces in Amherst, Hadley, Northampton, Hatfield, and Sunderland. Instead of describing all of them (there are many), you can reach her at: (413) 247-0090 or

Hope that helps!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Benson Mini-Storage: The Best Spaces in the Area!

5 by 5 units: all new, clean, 24-hour access, very friendly staff, diverse payment options, safe, conveniently located off of I-91 in Hatfield (minutes from Northampton, 10 miles from UMass). Rates for these units are around $35-40/month (a great deal for this area).

Based on personal experience: you can pay a little less (maybe $30/month at the lowest) at a few places in the Amherst/Northampton area, but you can't get into the units on Sundays nor after office hours, the spaces are often divided by flimsy cardboard or even chickenwire, and the owners are, in many cases, unbelievably rude and inconsiderate.

Call the folks at Benson to get rates on the units and for more information:
(413) 247-0090

Please let them know about the blog!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Here is an interesting article on the housing situation in Amherst:
Housing issues: What you can do - Opinion

Friday, July 07, 2006

I just saw an ad for a studio for $1,000/month in Hadley. What bothered me most, however, was the concluding sentence of the description (see UMass housing page):

"It may be a little pricy but its worth it for safty and comfort."

Don't buy the George W. rhetoric (and spelling mastery, ironically): Hadley is a serious farm town and the UMass area is safe. You don't need to spend that kind of $$ to avoid getting mugged, OK? This is Moooo-town: If you want to fear something, check out the fact that some local folks still go out cow-tipping for fun...

Monday, July 03, 2006

If you didn't already know, the big property management agencies in Amherst (i.e. Kamins) require that you earn the total amount of the monthly rent in one week!! If you don't, you need to have a co-signer based in the U.S.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

My favorite housing deal: pay $600/mth for a room in a family's house, share a bathroom and kitchen with 5 people, use a space heater because the landlord is too cheap to install real heat, and, because you are getting such a great deal (?), please spend quality time with the kids to keep their moral high during the parent's messy divorce. Yes!

A tip from a fellow housing hunter: all information that you enter on the UMass off-campus housing page (once there, click on "search rental listings") affects the search results. I know this sounds like an obvious, unnecessary observation, but if you are looking for something for September 1st, say, and enter that date as the 'start date', you are often not able to see the 'flexible' move in dates, the 'August' move in dates, etc. Those landlords that want to rent their apartments in June, July, and August often cannot (most people head out of town after school), so that housing option may be available even as late as September 1st. Also, you don't have to put anything in for the 'start date' or 'end date' (that might be the best way to search because that way the 'flexible' start/end dates do appear). Suerte!

If you have or know of a REAL studio (see below), feel free to list the description/contact information as "comments" to this posting.

Loners, hermits, fellow only-children syndromees, and other studio seekers, don't fall victim to the linguistic transformation that has taken root in the 5-college area. Please observe the contrast:

Widely understood definition of a "Studio" apartment:
A type of apartment/living quarters in which one has his/her own private entrance with door and lock/key, private kitchen, private bathroom, at least one window (we hope), and all of this within the confines of your own, self-contained, private living space that is large enough to at least put a twin bed in and walk around it (again, we hope).

In Amherst, this definition has been twisted, reformed, and adapted to fit the needs of a stingy (and may I mention, often wealthy) landlord population that has no problem charging NYC prices in rural, no-(wo)mans-land, Amherst, MA.

Check out the following examples of "studios":
"Studio apartment in a five bedroom home. Shared bathroom, shared kitchen, share all living expenses. 560/mth." --> This is not a studio, pal.

"1 br, 3 room Studio. No kitchen priveledges. Share bathroom cleanups. Owner occupied. $650/mth" --> You should be ashamed of yourself.

"Studio in downtown Amherst. Split internet and utilities with housemates. No overnight guests. $580/mth" --> No spliting, no housemates, no, no, no. You got it all wrong!

Hope this post is helpful to those musing the change of traditional studio definitions. Don't accept convenient, Pioneer Valley alterations of the U.S.-English language variety!!!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

For those of you in Amherst, MA over the summer, check out the New World Theatre Company from UMass.

For more info on Amherst, events, activities, local business, local concerns, etc. check out my other blog (Amherst Life Blog)

Here is the deal about that blog:
I’m approaching the Amherst Life blog from a community-member/student perspective with the intention of supporting what is working and, with your help, questioning/reforming what is not. This is a beautiful area and a great place to study and live in. It would be great if, through the Amherst Life Blog, we are able to make it even better, so please check it out and post comments!!

Day (?) of apartment hunting.... Does anyone want to rent apartment #13 that overlooks the town of Amherst's oldest graveyard? The fence is only 5 feet away from your very own door!
If so, call Kamins Real Estate. $700/month, plus $50/month electric bill, and the dilapitated, chewing tabacco stained, wandering spirit pad is all yours. Enjoy!