A Guide to the UMass Residential Areas

Here is a helpful guide to the six residential as new students move in.


Prince, John Adams and John Quincy Adams Halls in Southwest Residential Area on Sunset Ave. at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. (Morgan Hughes/Amherst Wire)

Thousands of students moved into their dorms at UMass Amherst this past weekend. It is a new experience for both freshman and sophomores, who haven’t been able to experience UMass at full capacity since the COVID-19 pandemic. The six residential areas all have their highs and lows, and in this list we will break down the differences between the different areas.


1. Central Residential Area

Central Residential Area, more commonly known as Central, has a total of nine residence halls and is located on the East side of campus. While close to the Franklin Dining Commons and Studio Arts, Central is separated from a lot of the academic buildings with the library being a 15-minute walk. It generally has the reputation of being a fairly quiet area and chill place to live.

Highs: Close to Frank and clean buildings

Lows: Located on a hill and far from academic buildings and the rest of campus.

Fun Fact: Butterfield House, which is located in Central, once flew a pirate flag above the building and declared themselves independent from UMass. The exact reasoning is unknown to this day.


2. Northeast Residential Area

Northeast resembles a typical college dorm experience, with nine old-fashioned buildings within the area. Located right next to Worcester Dining Commons and close to academic buildings, Northeast has a great location for students active on campus. However, the buildings are older and can be run down.

Highs: Great location and beautiful trees and landscaping around the buildings

Lows: Old buildings and can get noisy at night

Fun Fact: New students attending orientation will all live in Northeast!


3. Orchard Hill Residential Area

Nicknamed “O-Hill” by residents, Orchard Hill has four buildings and true to its name is at the top of a large hill. Very close to the Chancellor’s Residence and housing the student co-op Sweets n’ More, Orchard Hill is far from the rest of campus, placed past Central. The closest dining hall is Franklin, which is about 10 minute walk away. The hill is great for sledding but can be hard to walk down when the ground gets icy.

Highs: Nice buildings and a quiet area to live in

Lows: Located on the very top of the hill, making every walk a hike

Fun Fact: Orchard Hill has some of the largest rooms on campus, and even has walk-in closets!


4. Sylvan Residential Area

Sylvan is a suite-style residential area with rooms for about six to eight students. The area has outdoor features such as fire pits and a basketball court, along with a snack bar in one of the halls. However, it is very far from the rest of campus which can dissuade students who feel isolated. Sylvan tends to house transfer students by virtue of room selection times.

Highs: Quiet environment with cool room types

Lows: Far from campus and a lot of students in there would prefer to be somewhere else.

Fun Fact: Sylvan is home to the oldest student-run business on campus, called the Sylvan Snack Bar!


5. Southwest Residential Area

Southwest is probably one of the more infamous residential areas at UMass with a large population known for partying. However, the area has a very diverse group of students with outgoing personalities. If you are looking to make friends easily and be active, this is a good place to be. The noise levels can get pretty high, and the buildings can get, for lack of better word, gross. If you like parties and don’t mind noise, this is the place for you. Otherwise, it might be best to visit on nights when you don’t have homework

Highs: Great social life and always something to do. Close to two dining halls, Hampshire and Berkshire.

Lows: Very loud and the buildings get dirty quickly.

Fun Fact: Because so many students live in this area, Southwest is one of the most densely populated areas in the Northeast!


6. Commonwealth Honors College Residential Area

The CHC Residential Area is only open to Honors students. With two buildings set aside for first years and the rest of the buildings either suite or apartment style for upperclassmen, there are a variety of room types. However, it is far from all the dining halls, which can get annoying. Some buildings also overlook the soccer/lacrosse field, which means early morning wakeups over the Public Addressing (PA) system on game days and afternoon practices with loud music.

Highs: Close to academic buildings and is a pretty tight knit community

Lows: Far from dining commons

Fun Fact: The CHC Residential Area is the newest on campus having been opened in Fall 2013!

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