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Housing in Boston is very expensive. Rent varies by area, but here are some typical ranges:
$850 - $1050
1 Bedroom Apartments
$1300 - $1500
2 Bedroom Apartments
$1600 - $1800
3 Bedroom Apartments
$1900 - $2800
4+ Bedroom Apartments
$500 - $550 per bedroom
Rents usually change up to 10% from year to year. Keep in mind how much you'll earn during the year when determining what kind of apartment you can afford. With taxes and bills, most graduate students need to share apartments.
The vast majority of leases in Boston are for one year starting on September 1st. As a consequence, Since that date is usually close to the beginning of Fall classes, students entering then can expect the first week here at BU to be quite busy. For those entering in the Spring, there are likely to be fewer apartments available than in the Fall. We strongly recommend you come early to find somewhere to live. Most of the decent apartments go by the end of July, and the few that are left have inflated prices.
Some things to consider
If you've never lived off-campus before, we hope these hints will be of some help.
Work out your budget carefully
To secure an apartment, most realtors will want the first and last months' rent, a deposit (equal to one month's rent) and a fee (usually equal to a month's rent). That adds up to a lot of money.
You can get an apartment without the realty fee but you have to search around for landlords and realtors that provide their services free (usually this means the landlord pays the realtor or searches for tenants themselves). One way to do this is to find a neighborhood you like, go around to each building and write down the owner/management's name and phone number, and then call them all. By avoiding the realtor middleman, you might save a whole month's rent (the fee).
You get what you pay for
There are very few genuine bargains. If something is very cheap, be very suspicious. See what is included in the rent (gas, water, electricity …).
Landlords - There can be some very bad ones, speak to the current residents if at all possible.
Get your own apartment first. Then fill it with people. There are many more students than apartments, so if you can secure an apartment you like, and if you can afford the deposit, then it might be worth taking a gamble that you can fill the extra rooms.
Realtors - There are some good ones. But there are some very bad ones who will try to coerce you into renting an apartment you don't want. Beware. Be prepared to bargain. Also be sure to tell them you are a graduate student. Most realtors will show graduate students and professionals better places. Take the T to the area you might want to live in, and you will find a realtor who covers that territory.
Keep your aims realistic. You probably won't get the place of your dreams first time around, so it's better to get the first "reasonable" place rather than end up with nothing.
Go house hunting with a friend. It's a lot less pressure, and you can get a second opinion you trust on the place.
Check list of things to look for in an apartment
Location -- access to public transportation (subway green lines and bus lines that go to Kenmore bring you close to campus).
Parking -- Can you get a residential parking sticker, or are guaranteed parking spaces available?
If you are bringing a car this is an important topic since this city is known for it's stolen car statistics (car alarm and other deterrents are advisable). Residential stickers are free, but you are not guaranteed a space near your house. Residential stickers also require your car to be registered and insured in Massachusetts at the local address (NO EXCEPTIONS!!!). Guaranteed spaces are rarely included in the rent. Guaranteed spaces in Brookline, for example, can cost between $60 and $100/month. Find out at what times parking is allowed. Some places do not allow overnight parking (Brookline, Watertown, etc.). Some locations do not allow parking during the wintertime. Parking laws vary by town.
Grocery Store -- close enough to walk or will you have to take a cab?
Laundry and Dry Cleaners -- laundry in building?
Maintenance – Is there someone on call? Do you have a Superintendent on site?
Rent -- what utilities does it include (heat, electricity, gas) Figure into price if you will need a T pass each month. Note: it is illegal for the landlord to charge you for water itself, but you will usually pay to heat the water.
Crime -- Inquire about the area, be sure to ask someone other than the landlord and realtor, just to be safe. The local police department should be helpful.
Food -- are there any restaurants or convenience stores nearby? What hours are they open?
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