4 Best Places to Raise a Family in Hampshire, Massachusetts

Hampshire County is a favorite county for many in the state of Massachusetts. While it may not seem like it initially because we do not see people flocking to it, that is the reason why people like it.

It currently has around 160,000 population, which is rising. It still keeps the lifestyle it had a couple of decades ago, which locals prefer, including me.

Today, I would like to talk about the best places within the country for those who want to raise a family.

1. Amherst

Amherst, the town I think is the best choice, is very well known for its exceptional schools and thriving community.

What makes Amherst truly special is the presence of prestigious institutions like the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst College, and Hampshire College.

These educational powerhouses create an environment that values academic growth and fosters a love for lifelong learning.

Notably, Amherst’s public schools consistently rank among the top in the state, providing a wide range of academic and extracurricular opportunities for students.

But Amherst offers more than just an outstanding education.

The community takes great pride in organizing family-friendly events and festivals.

When it comes to amenities, Amherst has it all. The town boasts a diverse culinary scene, shopping centers, and vibrant farmer’s markets, making its downtown area a lively hub for families to explore and enjoy.

Moreover, Amherst is blessed with abundant natural beauty, with numerous parks, walking trails, and conservation lands to explore and appreciate.

For families who embrace an active lifestyle, Amherst is a true haven. The town offers excellent outdoor recreational facilities, including community pools and sports fields, encouraging residents to stay active and enjoy the great outdoors.

Amherst, with its exceptional schools, vibrant arts scene, and ample recreational opportunities, truly embodies the ideal community for families seeking a fulfilling and enriching lifestyle.

2. Northampton

Northampton MA

Northampton, also known as “Noho,” is a place I call home. I do think that Amherst offers more to its residents, but that doesn’t mean that I do no like my home. Northampton is fostering an inclusive environment where people of all backgrounds and lifestyles can thrive.

This sense of unity and acceptance makes Northampton a wonderful place for families.

It has an active, year-round calendar of family-oriented events, from vibrant parades and art festivals to farmer’s markets and community fairs.

The city’s thriving downtown area is a hub of activity, housing a plethora of:

The community’s commitment to supporting local businesses adds to the city’s charm and character.

The city also values the importance of green spaces, providing residents with a number of parks and playgrounds. Families can engage in a host of recreational activities, including hiking, biking, and picnicking.

Connecticut River adds to the natural beauty of the area, offering opportunities for water-related activities and sports.

3. Easthampton


Easthampton is a tight-knit community, exceptional schools, and an array of recreational facilities.

The town exudes a sense of tranquility and closeness, ideal for families that appreciate a quieter lifestyle while still enjoying the conveniences of city life. The town prides itself on its excellent educational system.

Easthampton’s public schools consistently achieve high marks for their rigorous academics and diverse extracurricular programs. The local high school is recognized for its advanced placement program and high college readiness scores.

Recreational opportunities abound in Easthampton. The town features several parks, playgrounds, and athletic fields. The crown jewel of the area is the Manhan Rail Trail, a six-mile trail that provides a safe, scenic space for walking, jogging, and biking.

There is one more thing I really like about Easthampton, and that is the local arts scene, which is flourishing.

With the city hosting regular art walks and festivals that families can enjoy together.

4. South Hadley

south hadley massachusetts

South Hadley, best known as the home of Mount Holyoke College, is a small, closely-tied community. The town has a balance between historic charm and modern amenities, making it an attractive place for families.

Education is highly valued in South Hadley, with the local schools offering a robust curriculum and a wealth of extracurricular activities.

South Hadley High School, in particular, is praised for its high academic standards and commitment to student development. The town is rich in recreational facilities and natural beauty.

It hosts the South Hadley Family Center, which offers a variety of family-oriented programs and activities.

Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the numerous hiking trails and the town’s proximity to the Connecticut River.

South Hadley is also home to the Village Commons, a lively shopping and dining hub that families can enjoy.

How did we choose these communities?


To identify the best places for creating a family life, I considered several key criteria such as:

  • Education
  • Safety
  • Affordability
  • Recreational activities
  • Community services
  • Housing options
  • Proximity to major cities

These factors collectively contribute to a high standard of living and overall family well-being.

Educational Excellence

Across Hampshire County, educational excellence is a key attribute.

The county’s commitment to providing high-quality education is evident in the superior rankings its schools consistently achieve.

As a parent, I can rest assured my children will have access to top-notch educational opportunities, from elementary school through to higher education.

In towns like Amherst, Northampton, Easthampton, and South Hadley, schools are recognized for their rigorous academic standards, comprehensive curriculums, and broad range of extracurricular activities.

Moreover, Hampshire County is home to prestigious higher education institutions, including the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Amherst College, that serve as significant intellectual hubs in the region.

The educational infrastructure in Hampshire County extends beyond its excellent schools. The area is home to numerous libraries and learning centers that provide enrichment opportunities for children of all ages. This emphasis on lifelong learning makes the county an ideal location for raising a family.

Safe and Welcoming Neighborhoods

neighborhoods in hampshire

Safety is a critical factor when considering where to raise a family, and Hampshire County doesn’t disappoint. The towns and cities within the county are well-regarded for their safe, welcoming neighborhoods.

Crime rates are relatively low, and community engagement is high, creating environments where families can feel secure and at ease.

The four towns I’ve highlighted all feature neighborhoods that are safe, pedestrian-friendly, and teeming with a sense of community.

Here are the crime rates for each:

  • Amherst – 77% lower than national average
  • Easthampton – 65% lower than national average
  • South Hadley – 60% lower than national average
  • Northampton – 30% lower than national average

From quiet suburban streets to bustling downtown areas, these communities offer diverse living environments to suit various preferences.

A sense of community is strongly fostered in these areas, with regular neighborhood gatherings, community-led initiatives, and local events that bring residents together.

These factors create an atmosphere where families can thrive, fostering a sense of belonging and interconnectedness.

Nature and Outdoor Recreation

Hampshire County is a treasure trove of natural beauty, providing families with a wide array of outdoor recreational opportunities.

The county’s commitment to preserving its natural landscapes results in an abundance of parks, trails, and conservation areas that I can explore with my family.

In Amherst, the Mill River Recreation Area and Amethyst Brook Conservation Area are popular spots for outdoor fun. Northampton’s Look Park and the Connecticut River offer numerous activities, from hiking and biking to boating.

Easthampton’s Manhan Rail Trail is perfect for a family bike ride, while South Hadley’s Bicentennial Canal Park offers stunning riverside views.

The opportunity to engage in outdoor activities not only promotes a healthy lifestyle but also encourages families to spend quality time together. Whether it’s a casual weekend hike, a picnic in the park, or a day of sports, the natural bounty of Hampshire County caters to my family’s outdoor preferences.

Community Services and Support

Community Services and Support

Another hallmark of my county is the wide array of community services and support systems available to residents. These resources cater to various aspects of family life, ranging from healthcare facilities to libraries and community centers.

Healthcare facilities across the county offer high-quality medical care.

Libraries, like the Jones Library in Amherst and the Forbes Library in Northampton, serve as learning hubs for families, offering a variety of programs for children and adults alike.

Community centers across the county offer enrichment classes, host events, and provide spaces for families to connect. The towns in Hampshire County also offer services specifically tailored to families. These include family centers, parenting programs, youth sports leagues, and more.

These services and resources enhance the quality of life for families living in Hampshire County, ensuring that support and assistance are readily available when needed.

Family-Focused Events and Activities

One of the many reasons this is an ideal place to raise a family is the vast array of family-focused events and activities that take place throughout the year. These events provide opportunities for family bonding, community engagement, and entertainment.

From seasonal festivals and farmers’ markets in Amherst to arts and culture events in Northampton, there’s always something happening in Hampshire County.

Easthampton’s annual Cultural Chaos festival and South Hadley’s FallsFest Music and Arts Festival are just two examples of the community-centric events that I love attending with my family.

These events not only bring families together but also foster a sense of community, strengthening the bonds between residents.

Proximity to Major Cities and Transportation

bus on the street

Hampshire County’s prime location in Western Massachusetts offers me the advantage of proximity to major cities and transportation networks.

The access to urban centers and commuting routes adds to the county’s appeal as a desirable place to raise a family.

Living here, I appreciate the strategic location near several interstate highways, providing easy access to larger cities like Springfield and Boston, as well as Hartford in Connecticut.

The convenience of these connections makes it easier for me to commute to work, visit family, or enjoy a day trip to these bustling urban centers.

Moreover, the county is serviced by numerous public transportation options, including the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) and Amtrak.

These transportation networks enable easy, stress-free travel within and beyond the county, whether for work, school, or leisure.


Hampshire County, with its unique blend of educational excellence, community engagement, natural beauty, and affordability, stands out as an ideal place to raise a family.

The towns of Amherst, Northampton, Easthampton, and South Hadley each offer their charm and host of amenities that contribute to a high-quality family life.

I’m sure you will find everything you need in one of these cities.