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Off-Campus Housing FAQ

When you should begin your search for off-campus housing will depend on when you need to move. Some students live in Boston during the summer and thus need housing for the entire year. Other students leave Boston for the summer and need housing from September to May. Keep in mind that many tenants must give their landlords 30 to 60 days notice before vacating an apartment in "rolling" situations. September vacancies will begin being listed as early as January or February.

Locating a room, apartment, or place to share is difficult if you are not in the Boston area. Unless it is absolutely impossible, you should plan to visit Boston a month or more before starting school here, allowing several days at that time to search for housing. Late August and the first week in September are the most difficult times to look for housing in Boston because you are competing with many other students.

Most landlords will require you sign some type of lease before you move in. In Boston, the lease often runs from September 1 to August 31. Therefore, if you need an apartment starting in May, you are likely to be taking over a lease from a previous tenant. This practice is referred to as subletting. Sometimes subletting is in violation of the terms of the lease. Check with the landlord, and review the prior tenant's lease before subletting. Some people sublet an apartment for the summer only and plan to return in September, so make sure you know before subletting an apartment whether you have an option to renew the lease in the fall.

Where should I live?

The Boston area is diverse and has many distinct neighborhoods. Because Boston is defined by neighborhoods, you'll need some understanding of the different areas to make sense of the apartment listings.

The Boston Conservatory is located at the intersection of the Back Bay and Fenway neighborhoods near Kenmore square. Most ads for all these neighborhoods will appear under the Back Bay heading with a notation which will tell you in which sub-neighborhood the apartment is located. The Back Bay, Fenway and Kenmore sections, as well as parts of the area known as the South End, are within walking distance of The Boston Conservatory.

The Boston Conservatory is approximately three blocks from the "T", (Boston's subway system) at the Hynes Convention Center/Mass Ave stop and can be reached by public transportation from all of the city's outlying neighborhoods and suburbs.

In general, as you get further from the center of Boston, housing costs decrease. Using a Boston map and the classified section of the newspaper, you can get an idea of what is available in the various sections of the city.

A brief description of some general advantages and disadvantages of each are listed below.

Allston/Brighton

Advantages: access to public transportation; average rents; access to shopping

Disadvantages: quality of housing; resident parking only

Back Bay

Advantages: proximity to campus; access to public transportation; decent quality of housing; access to Boston's social life and shopping

Disadvantages: higher rents; high rate of condo conversion; lack of parking

Beacon Hill

Advantages: access to public transportation; safety; quality of housing; quiet; proximity to downtown

Disadvantages: higher rents; lack of parking; smaller sized units

Brookline

Advantages: access to public transportation; quality of housing; family/community atmosphere

Disadvantages: higher rents; no overnight street parking

Cambridge

Advantages: average rents; area colleges; access to public transportation; collegiate community atmosphere

Disadvantages: sometimes lower quality of housing

Everett

Advantages: lower rents; suburban residential environment

Disadvantages: lower quality of housing; transportation

Fenway/Kenmore

Advantages: proximity to campus; average rents; access to public transportation

Disadvantages: quality of housing; lack of parking

Jamaica Plain

Advantages: lower rents; residential environment; access to public transportation; community atmosphere

Disadvantages: safety in some locations

Newton

Advantages: quality of housing; suburban environment; safety

Disadvantages: distance from campus; higher rents; transportation

North End

Advantages: access to public transportation; proximity to Fanueil Hall/Harbor and Haymarket

Disadvantages: heavy tourist traffic; noisy nightlife in some areas; lack of parking; high rate of condo conversion

Quincy

Advantages: lower rents; suburban residential environment

Disadvantages: distance from campus and public transportation

Roxbury

Advantages: lower rents; access to public transportation

Disadvantages: safety in some locations; quality of housing

Somerville

Advantages: lower rents; access to public transportation; residential environment

Disadvantages: quality of housing; distance from campus

South End

Advantages: access to public transportation;  many high quality apartments

Disadvantages: higher rents; lack of parking; safety in some locations; no convenient transportation to school (longer walk than Back Bay/Fenway)

Watertown

Advantages: quality of housing; residential environment; slightly lower rents

Disadvantages: limited overnight parking; public transportation takes more time

 

What are the average prices of apartments in the Boston area?

As you begin your search for housing, you will realize that prices are steep in Boston, but they will range over the spectrum. The following table gives a variety of rates for unfurnished apartments in the Boston area, as reported by numerous real estate agents. Of course, prices will vary depending on the area in which you rent, the quality and size of the apartment, and whether or not the landlord charges for utilities.

Price table:

  • Studio (one room) $950-$1,200/mo.
  • One bedroom $1,100-$1,800/mo.
  • Two bedrooms/One bedroom splits $1,500-$2,200/mo.
  • Three bedrooms/Two bedroom splits $2,100-$3,300/mo.

Again, these prices are just a guide. It is possible that rents will be lower or higher than the amounts listed here, depending on where the apartment is located, its size and condition, as well as other factors.

Many students live in "split" apartments to save money in the area.  These are also known as "converted" apartments in which the original living room is now used as a bedroom.  The common spaces in these apartments are usually limited to a small foyer or an eat-in kitchen.

Where can I find listings?

Newspapers, websites and/or realtors can help you find available apartments. In reading the classifieds, it is important to note that you will find two types of listings. One is an apartment or room being offered by a building owner (landlord). The other is a listing placed by a realtor (real estate agent). If you can deal directly with a landlord, you will probably save money. Some landlords don't bother listing their available apartments in the newspapers. By walking through the areas looking for "apartments to rent" signs and landlord telephone numbers posted on buildings, you can sometimes get leads on unpublished availabilities.

Newspapers

The Boston Globe
The Sunday Real Estate Section of The Boston Globe has the largest available section of housing in the Boston area.

The Boston Herald
The classified section in The Boston Herald is not as large as The Boston Globe. The paper's largest real estate section for the week is in Friday's edition.

The Boston Phoenix
This paper has some listings of shared living arrangements in Boston and the near suburbs. Landlords with few properties tend to advertise directly through these classified ads.

The Cambridge Chronicle
Has listings for Cambridge, Somerville, and Medford (cities just outside of Boston).

The Patriot Ledger
Listings for the South Shore area.

Web Sites

http://boston.craigslist.org
No-fee apartments listed by brokers and by owner. It also has a section on sublets and people looking for roommates. It is updated daily.

www.bostonapartments.com
This site lists apartment rentals of all types, as well as people seeking roommates. It also has a listing of numerous agencies in the Boston area with links to their web pages.

http://bostonunionrealty.com/

Real Estate Agents

If you do decide to work with a real estate agent, you might want to keep the following precautions in mind:

  • You should not have to pay a fee just to look at the listings.
  • Before looking at any apartments with an agent, find out if he/she intends to charge a fee just for looking at an apartment.
  • Never rent an apartment without seeing it first. Take time to thoroughly inspect the apartment.
  • Don't let an agent pressure you into a hasty decision.
  • Realtors can charge up to one month's rent as a "finder's fee", but only if you actually sign a lease.
  • Check the rental application to be sure it has the exact information of the apartment you are interested in - the address, apartment number, and price.

The following is a list of real estate agencies in The Boston Conservatory area*:

A & S Realty

271 Newbury Street, Boston
(617) 267-3485
www.aandsrealty.com

Beacon Realty Trust

contact: Steven Handler
248 Newbury St., Boston
(617) 266-7142
www.beaconrealtytrust.com

Boston City Properties

581 Boylston Street, Boston, MA
(617) 247-1933
www.bostoncityproperties.com

Boston Off-Campus Apartments

70 Westland Ave, Boston
(617) 421-1661 ext. 10

Boston's Preferred Properties

57 Gainsborough Street, Boston
(617)859-3838
www.bppinc.com

Boston Union Realty

79 Westland Ave, Boston
(617) 421-9111
www.bostonunionrealty.com

Cabot and Company

213 Newbury Street, Boston
(617) 262-6200
www.cabotandcompany.com

The Charles Realty

257 Newbury Street, Boston
(617) 236-0353
www.bostonapartments.com

Commonwealth Realty

957 Commonwealth Ave., Boston
(617) 787-6960
www.Bostonapartments4u.com

The Copley Group

109 Queensberry Street, Boston
(617) 247-3070
www.thecopleygroup.com

ERA Real Estate Company

316 Newbury Street, Suite 41, Boston
(617) 262-1900
www.bostonrealestate.com

Kunevich & Lau

241 Washington Str., Brookline
(617) 731-1015

Boston Realty Advisors

715 Boylston St., Boston
(617) 375-7900
www.bradvisors.com

1st Step Realty

1620 Commonwealth Ave., Brighton
(617) 264-4900
www.fsrb.us

 

* The Boston Conservatory does not endorse any of the listed real estate agencies or roommate matching services. This information is presented only to assist you. Those agencies listed were selected based on proximity to The Boston Conservatory (thus, they may have more listings for the area around the Conservatory). The Boston Conservatory cannot guarantee the quality of service or accommodations and cannot be responsible for the action of any realtor or landlord.

Where can I stay in Boston while conducting my search?

Temporary Housing

Beantown International Hostel

222 Friend Street, Boston
(617) 723-0800

Berkeley Residence

Boston YWCA, 40 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA
(617) 482-8850

Greater Boston YMCA

316 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA
(617) 536-7800

Hostelling International

12 Hemenway Street, Boston
(617) 536-9455

Longwood Inn

123 Longwood Avenue, Brookline, MA
(617) 566-8615

Summer Housing

Garden Halls Residences

60 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA,
(617) 267-0079 or (617) 236-8031

Hostelling International

1105 Commonwealth Ave, Boston,
Summer reservations: (617) 779-0900

Hotels

Back Bay Hilton

40 Dalton Street, Boston, MA,
(617) 236-1100 or (800) 874-0663

Best Western Terrace Inn

1650 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston , MA
(617) 566-6260

Copley Plaza

Copley Square, 138 St. James Ave., Boston, MA,
(617) 267-5300

Copley Square

47 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02116,
(617) 536-9000

The Eliot Hotel

370 Commonwealth Ave., Boston,
(617) 267-1607

Howard Johnson

1271 Boylston Street, Boston, MA,
(617) 267-8300

The Lenox Hotel

710 Boylston Street, Boston,
(617) 536-5300

Oasis Guest House

22 Edgerly Road
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 267-2262 or (800) 230-0105

Park Plaza Hotel

64 Arlington Street
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 457-2491

Sheraton Boston

39 Dalton Street, Boston,
(617) 236-2000

The Midtown Hotel

220 Huntington Ave.
Boston, 02115
(617) 262-1000 or (800) 343-1177

463 Beacon Street – Guest House

463 Beacon Street
Boston, 02115
(617) 536-1302

 

Note: The Boston Conservatory cannot guarantee the quality of accommodations and service and cannot be held responsible for the actions of any representative of the temporary housing facilities listed above.

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