Amherst Life Blog

Welcome to the Amherst Life Blog! Here we will be posting information on activities, events, arts, community concerns, local business, and a variety of other topics related to life in Amherst, Massachusetts. If you are new to the area and looking for housing, please check out our other blog too ------------>> Amherst Housing Blog ::.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Business Folk: Free tips!

OK, you might ask, "what's in it for you?" Our response: a more dynamic town and more places for the non-binge drinking inclined. So, for what it's worth, we'd like to give entrepreneurs a few tips:

In Amherst, one kind of business thrives: the cafe/restaurant. Yes, that is it. There are multiple, but none of them have concocted the "perfect" mix of cheap food, good coffee, nice & clean space, and good MUSIC on Friday's and Saturday's. This is not rocket science but for some reason, nobody around here can put it into action. Amherst needs a cafe with god rice and beans, hummus and pita, coffee and tea, basic vegetarian (and well-done) grilled vegetables, some "top picks" books for sale (cheap), some good prints for sale (artwork), weekly music (quality, please, don't be cheap or we will trash you forever!). So there you have it: trust us. You will make a lot of money here and you will improve our lives. Donations accepted.

Holyoke PVTA!

We would like to propose an express bus route from Holyoke Center (not the mall) to UMass-Amherst. There are thousands of students and faculty-members who live in Holyoke and commute to Amherst, and Holyoke is the only affordable place to live in the area. You open a bus route, Holyoke gets more students, that means more money flowing into the city, that means more life in the city, that means grad students can actually live without going to the local church for free food. We would like to hear your ideas about an express bus route. Please post them below.

Cultural Bazaar in Amherst

Could someone please explain what does not count for "indigenous" cultural objects, please? We went to the bazaar, and (though many folks came in the interest of cross-cultural exchange), there were some vendors selling mass-produced products. So, is a factory-produced mask an "indigenous" cultural representation. Probably. But that forces the "real" vendors -- those who are crafting by hand -- to lower their prices and not get the money that their work deserves. You comments are welcome!

Unethical landlords!

Ok, this is not the space to trash your landlord! This is the space, however, to get even! If your landlord has been unethical and you have the documentation to prove it, post your case and let the public know! We do not want made-up stories! We want real cases that have legal documentation so that us renters know what we are getting into! Posts can be posted below.

Translating architectural forms: more for you housing seekers!

This is another piece of advice that international students and folks from warmer climes often forget to consider....

If you are interested in a 1st floor apartment (ground floor) always ask if there is a basement or if the apartment is right on the cold earth! If you have a basement, heating prices can be affordable. Sometimes there is even a furnace beneath the unit (and that is good!). However, if your unit is not above a basement and rests upon a slab of concrete that is right on the ground, you can expect to pay HIGH prices for heating in the winter. Around 150/month, at least...

So, something to consider! We believe the first floor apartments at Colonial Village are an example of units without a basement below... We have to confirm that, though... Someone let us know!

Housing in Amherst

We know... the UMass housing page is down and now you are limited to "craigslist western mass." But that makes the search a little easier, and hopefully the people who post on UMass will realize that a "vacant" 1-bedroom apartment is not a room in a private home! We are so tired of these people! So, for the record, and for all of the landlords out there, a room in an apartment or home is just that: a room! Wow.

We have also come across multiple scams that out-of-town folk should know about.

1) Be weary of craigslist ads that use "Western Massachusetts" as a town name. Western Mass. is a huge area and there are probably 40 towns and cities in this part of the state.

2) If you are renting a "room" or a vacant apartment that includes heat, you should ask WHO controls the heat. You will be surprised (or maybe you won't...) that some of the landlords in the happy valley keep daytime heat regulated at 68 degrees in the winter months. That may not sound cold to you, but think about the cold winter draft that may enter your abode at night. Something to consider.

3) Beware of folks who say they will pay the agency fee on the apartment you are about to lease! They might say that they will cover the fee, which is nice, but get the money in cash then!

4) Check the PVTA schedule and call PVTA for bus route info. Some landlords are calling a 2 mile walk "close" to the major bus stops. That is good for exercise-sake, but not so good when you have to get to campus in a hurry.

5) We'll keep posting! Come back. And tell us your stories as apartment searchers!

Our intention is to make the move into the area smooth and to do that we like to keep landlords and homeowners in check! This is your space to keep the pressure on and to let us all know about unethical landlord practices. So, post away below!