Quality of Life

Low Cost of Living – High Quality of Life 

10687125_1533707003511765_8871423552664309381_nAn abundance of natural beauty, easy commutes, affordable homes and proximity to cities make it easy to live and work in Amherst County. Views of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, the George Washington National Forest, the James and Piney rivers, are all part of the attraction of Amherst for both residents and visitors alike. It’s no wonder Amherst has extremely high air quality and water quality indexes.

Cost of Living

Food, housing, and healthcare costs well below the national average. This chart shows how the region’s cost of living stacks up against other cities in the U.S. Amherst’s cost of living is consistently below the national average (100).  Source: ACCRA Cost of Living Index, Second Quarter 2017 data.

  Composite 100% Housing 27% Groceries 13.96% Utilities 10.23% Trans. 12.12% Health 4.41% Misc. 32.17%
Amherst/ Lynchburg, VA 89.4 79.5 86.0 108.8 85.1 91.1 94.1
Virginia Beach, VA               101.6  93.7 98.1 100.3 93.6 100.8 104.6
Roanoke, VA 88.1  81.7 87.3 95.4 87.9 101.0 90.0
Richmond, VA 96.1  88.7 88.7 106.8 91.9  108.3 101.3
Raleigh, NC 96.4 83.4 106.1 98.1 99.7 100.8 101.3
Baltimore, MD 117.0 146.9 107.6 107.7 102.9 91.9 106.0
Boston, MA 148.2  207.0 106.2 141.8 110.8 135.7 135.0
Philadelphia, PA 117.2 129.5 116.6 125.2 114.9 106.1 107.4
 Chicago, IL  123.6  155.6 108.6 90.7 126.6 101.6 115.1


Close Proximity to Cities & Metro Areas

Living in Amherst, it’s easy to take advantage of the activities and resources that small and large cities have to offer. It’s just a few hours’ drive from such major metropolitan areas as Washington D.C., Richmond, and Charlotte, and the City of Lynchburg is just minutes away. Additionally, Amtrak has daily service to Northern Virginia, Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. 

Amherst has a mild climate with four seasons. 

January average temperature: 35°
July average temperature: 76°
Average annual precipitation: 40″
Average annual snowfall: 21″


Hiking, climbing, kayaking, camping, swimming, canoeing, fishing, biking – the list goes on. With the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Jefferson National Forest, the James and Piney rivers, and parks, there are abundant outdoor opportunities for fun, exercise or relaxation. Within an hours drive you can get to Smith Mountain Lake, the largest lake in Virginia, and the Wintergreen ski resort. 

The western boundary of Amherst County is formed by the Blue Ridge Parkway with miles of scenic driving along the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains and countless opportunities for relaxing stops. The eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains are cut by numerous streams and rivers and dotted with lakes affording opportunities for 165433_1533705993511866_2322871215913469359_nfishing and boating. Many people enjoy fishing, float trips and kayaking on the James River, which forms the southern and eastern boundary of Amherst County.

The Appalachian Trail, which extends over 2,000 miles from Maine to Georgia, passes through Amherst County. The Appalachian Trail and a number of other trails wind through the western part of the County in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, which constitute over 57,000 acres of Amherst County.

IMG_0304The county has multiple parks, some near lakes or rivers, and 2 bike trails. The Virginia Blue Ridge Railway trail is 7 miles long and winds it’s way through Amherst County along the Tye and Piney rivers and includes a photo worthy covered bridge. Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail

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Amherst County has several golf courses with gorgeous views and challenging courses. Winton Country Club‘s 18-hole championship golf course is recognized as one of the finest courses in Virginia and it has the added bonus of having no surrounding residences, which is becoming more and more unique. Winton also boasts a junior Olympic swimming pool and on-site restaurant as well as a banquet facility and the historic Sarah Henry Manor which predates the Revolutionary War. Poplar Grove is Amherst’s newest golf course and features rolling terrain, natural streams and lakes, and sweeping mountain views. Poplar Grove was the final design of golf legend Sam Snead.

Home with Old Red Pickup

Homes and land are affordable, with the average home in the region costing about $150,000.  Property tax rates are approximately 30% below the national average. The housing market has remained stable during economic downturns


Education is a key component of success in Amherst County. The Amherst County Public Schools are totally committed to providing a high-quality education for all students.

  • 4115 students
  • 6 Elementary Schools. 
  • Student to Teacher ratio of 17:1 (Elementary)
  • 2 Middle Schools & 1 High School. 
  • Student to Teacher ratio of 20:1 (Middle & High)
  • 749 Staff

Amherst-MB1_0919High school students have the following opportunities:

  • Complete up to 2 years of college through CVCC 
  • Attend the Central Virginia Governor’s School for Science & Technology http://www.cvgs.k12.va.us/
  • Attend the Governor’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Academy at CVCC  http://www.xlr8academy.com/
  • Take Advanced Placement course
Area Colleges & Universities

Amherst is home to Sweet Briar College and a branch of the Central Virginia Community College (CVCC).  Sweet Briar College is a private, women’s liberal arts and sciences college founded in 1901 and occupying 3,250 acres. Sweet Briar is one of only two women’s colleges to have an engineering program. It is consistently rated as one of the most beautiful campuses in America. http://www.sbc.edu/

The Amherst CVCC branch is an asset for the community and offers college classes and workforce education and training. http://cvcc.vccs.edu/Off-site%20Centers/Amherst.asp

Central Virginia offers a wealth of other post secondary educational resources. In fact, the region is home to four liberal arts colleges, one university, one community college, and two business colleges. Moreover, the University of Virginia is less than an hour’s drive and Virginia Tech is about 1.5 hours away — both of which regularly collaborate with area businesses on R&D projects, internships, and other programs – and along with Sweet Briar College they offer strong engineering programs.  

CaptureThe region’s colleges and universities produce more than 2,000 graduates per year, and nearby institutions contribute another 10,000 annually—offering area businesses a continuous pool of educated employees. 

One of the fastest growing universities in the U.S. is Liberty University (LU). LU’s growth has proven to be an economic engine in the region, as well as producing graduates who often remain in the area and provide a young, educated workforce. http://www.liberty.edu/aboutliberty/

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Centra built a new $9 million dollar medical center in Amherst in late 2016. The 17,500 square foot facility is an urgent care center for the treatment of non-life-threatening injuries and provides primary care services, X-rays, laboratory services and physical therapy. There are two nationally ranked and award winning hospital hospitals about 15 minutes away. Virginia Baptist Hospital and Lynchburg General Hospital consistently rank among the top 10 percent of hospitals in the country.


Additionally, one of the top ranked hospitals in the United States, the University of Virginia, is less than an hour away in Charlottesville. Learn More


Amherst County and the surrounding area are rich in cultural opportunities. In the county, cultural life centers around two extraordinary facilities. 

Amherst-MB1_0740Sweet Briar College is a private, women’s liberal arts and sciences college founded in 1901 and occupying 3,250 acres. It is consistently rated as one of the most beautiful campuses in America. In fact, the National Register of Historic Places has designated twenty-one of its buildings on the main campus as The Sweet Briar College National Historic District. The College maintains an active calendar of cultural events.

The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts is nearby Sweet Brier College on a 12 acre site. It is one of the largest working retreats in America for writers, visual artists, and composers providing two week to two month residencies where artists work free from distractions and responsibilities.

Amherst-MB1_1050Additionally, two important museums chronicle the area’s rich history: the Historical Amherst County Museum and the Monacan Indian Museum.


In 2015, Second Stage | Amherst signed a five-year lease with Amherst County allowing this not-for-profit organization the opportunity to convert the historic building into a center for creativity and community! The studio spaces are rented with artists, classes, and small businesses. Many area organizations hold regular meetings in the public spaces that are available. There are also performances by regional and local entertainers. http://www.secondstageamherst.org/



Photo courtesy of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce

History abounds in Amherst and so do the opportunities for fun and recreation. There are plenty of choices for great food, shopping, and accommodations, including several wineries and a brewery. 

Amherst Chamber of Commerce
County of Amherst Tourism
Thomas Jefferson National Forest
Appalachian Trail
Blue Ridge Parkway
Jefferson Heritage Trail
Rebec Winery
Lazy Days Winery

CrossRoads Camp and Conference Center