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Living On-Campus at UMass Amherst: Which Residential Area is Right for You?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

Finding the right dorm to live in can be a daunting task. At UMass, the on-campus residential areas – Southwest, Northeast, Central, Orchard Hill, and Honors – all have different vibes, pros, and cons. Luckily, there really is no “best spot” to live since different people thrive in different environments. If you’re wondering which is your best fit, then I’m glad you made it here! As a senior, I’m here to give you the rundown.


Do you think about living in a city a lot? If so, Southwest is for you. What makes Southwest an attractive place to live is, IMO, the location: home to two of the best dining commons, close to retail dining spots like Argo Tea, Chicken & Co., and Hampshire Cafe, and a quick walk’s distance to the Rec Center. 

However, introverted people might want to look elsewhere. Southwest is constantly bumbling with activity and is a hotspot for students looking to meet new people. Loud music and noise can be pretty typical for Southwest, so be sure to consider whether you need complete silence to study. Ultimately, it comes down to personality and study habits.


Is quiet time important to you? If so, then consider Northeast. Although the dorms are on the older side, being super close to the new Worcester Dining Commons (which includes a gym) makes Northeast a viable option. Given the area’s location, lots of STEM majors like to shack up here. All-in-all, Northeast is chill and studious.

Within Northeast is Sylvan, which traditionally houses transfer students (non-transfers can live there too). Sylvan’s the only place on campus (besides Honors) that has suite-style living spaces, and it doesn’t get enough hype. If you have a bigger friend group, living in Sylvan will allow you to share a space with a living room, private bathroom, and series of bedrooms (both singles and doubles).


Next up, my personal favorite: Central. Central’s vibe is perfectly in the middle between quiet areas like Northeast and busy areas like Southwest. The area is beautiful (i.e. the hill), Greeno’s Sub Shop is there, and the people are typically super friendly. I like to think of Central as the Hufflepuff of UMass. For me, Central checked off all of the boxes: a good mix of introverts and extroverts, pretty scenery, and good location. Be warned though: if you live in Upper Central, you’re going to be walking up a lot of steep inclines.

Orchard Hill

In my eyes, Orchard Hill and Central are siblings. Orchard Hill dorms are a bit further away than some Central dorms, but that doesn’t mean you should skip past it. Orchard Hill is home to the student business Sweets & More, lots of nature, and a similar mix of people to Central. In the center of Orchard Hill is “the bowl,” a green grassy little dip in the quad that students love to play frisbee and other games in. Overall, Orchard Hill is for chill people who like a nice balance between school and fun.

Honors College

If you find yourself in the Honors program, then I don’t really see why you wouldn’t want to live here – it’s close to the Rec Center, two dining halls, and is centrally located at the base of campus so that classes and the Campus Center are closeby. Honors offers singles, doubles, suites, and even apartments! It’s more expensive than the other areas on campus, but you pay for what you get (seriously, it has air conditioning).

Lastly, if you’re worried about scoring a spot in your favorite dorm, know that college really is what you make of it and this includes living situations. Even if you end up living in your last choice area, there’s still nothing stopping you from making it a good time. Also, room swaps are a thing. With so many choices to choose from, there is definitely a residential area for you at UMass!


Lauren Carey

U Mass Amherst '22

Lauren is a senior biochemistry major who recently started writing for Her Campus. She enjoys spending her free time decorating cakes, hanging with animals, and binge-watching series from her never-ending list of shows she NEEDS to watch.
Contributors from the University of Massachusetts Amherst