Only a very small number of students live off campus each year, and of those, not very many keep their own apartments. Some live with their family, which is most common among FPs (Frances Perkins students, who are typically older students). Since the school actively discourages living off campus, only the most intrepid or fed up with dorm life will try it. Students are, in general, happy about this. The extremely residential character of the campus is part of its charm and definitely contributes to its sense of community. What would campus life be without cheesy floor activities? The only downside is that some students have really good reasons for wanting to live off campus and are still denied. Some in this position have resorted to keeping a room on campus and paying for room and board but actually living somewhere else.
If you do want live off campus, you’ll want to try for something close by. Since Amherst and Northampton are already college towns, there’s a lot in both of those places to appeal to a student. You don’t want to go for something in, say, downtown Holyoke. Stay out of the sketchy areas, and you should be fine. Also, bring your own car if you can, because if you think having to go places on the PVTA schedule is annoying while living on campus, it’ll become ten times worse while living off campus. So much happens on campus in a day that you’ll practically be living there anyway, and it’ll be a lot harder to run home to get something you forgot.