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A Simple Guide to Finding Graduate Student Housing in Boston
Beacon Hill neighborhood in Boston

You’re excited to start grad school in Boston—you just need a place to live first! Not to worry. We’ve got you covered. This guide will introduce you to finding Boston housing as a soon-to-be law or other graduate student.

Boston is one of the most popular destinations for undergrad and graduate students for good reason: world-renowned institutions, lots of employment opportunities, high starting salaries, a student-friendly housing market, and much more. (Seriously, it’s an amazing city!)

Most graduate schools in the area, including New England Law | Boston, do not provide on-campus housing. However, students have plenty of off-campus housing options to choose from. For example, New England Law students live in apartments near our downtown location or in other Boston neighborhoods or suburbs.

Ready to find your Boston apartment? Use this guide to kick off your housing search.

First things first…

There are four things you need to consider before you begin your graduate housing search in Boston: budget, commute time, roommates, and amenities. All of these factors tend to have a big impact on your housing search, so weigh them together.

Budget

Not so surprisingly, budget is an important factor in finding an apartment! If you haven’t already, come up with a working budget that includes how much you are able to spend each month on rent, utilities, transportation, renters’ insurance, and other living expenses. This will help narrow your options.

Commute time

Boston has a large and convenient public transportation network, with a subway system (the “T”), buses, commuter train, and more. Biking and walking are also popular modes of transit. Generally, the rents decrease as the commuting time goes up.

Roommates

Many students live with one or more roommates, both for the cost savings and camaraderie. It is common to find three-, four-, and even five-bedroom apartments in Boston. You can typically find roommates through online listings or potentially match up with other students in your grad school. For example, New England Law offers a roommate-matching service for admitted students.

Amenities

These include things like laundry; close proximity to grocery stores, transportation, and gyms; and off-street parking. More amenities often mean higher rent, but with some prioritizing, you can often find a living situation that meets your needs and budget.

When to start looking for an apartment in Boston

Once you know what you’re looking for and your budget, you can begin your apartment search. Late May and June are often the best times to find housing, though some students start looking earlier than that. It’s recommended that you give yourself at least a month to find a place.

Boston also has a unique housing market, given the high student population and academic year schedule. Many apartments have August 1 or September 1 lease start dates. Mention your timing as a grad student early in your conversation with your landlord or rental agent.

You should search for Boston apartment rentals online to get the most current information. Remember, new listings are added all the time! (New England Law does not endorse or recommend any specific site, but we do provide our own lists of local apartment rentals, search sites, and other resources to our admitted students.)

Boston neighborhoods popular with students

Below you’ll find a sampling of some of the neighborhoods popular among students in Boston. You’ll find the apartments are a little more student-friendly, there are lots of restaurants and things to do nearby, and public transportation is easily accessible.

Allston/Brighton

Allston and Brighton are two of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods. Both have large numbers of students, families, and everything in between, presenting a wide variety of lifestyles. They are popular with students because of their many restaurants, bars, and shops; proximity to colleges and universities; and lower rents. Allston and Brighton are both accessible from multiple subway (“T”) stations and bus routes.

Back Bay

Back Bay is one of Boston’s most attractive—and expensive—residential areas. However, it’s not uncommon to find student renters, particularly if they have roommates. The area features brownstone apartment buildings and the shops and restaurants of Copley Place, the Prudential Center, and Boylston and Newbury Streets. Green spaces nearby include Boston Garden, Commonwealth Avenue Mall, and the Esplanade. (Much of Back Bay is within easy walking distance of New England Law too!)

Fenway/Kenmore Square

The Fenway area is home to legendary Fenway Park, of course, as well as numerous colleges and universities, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Longwood Medical Area, and Kenmore Square. This area attracts many graduate and undergrad students and professionals with its mixture of cultural and educational activities.

Jamaica Plain

“Plain” isn’t really the right word to use when describing the exciting and diverse Jamaica Plain, or “JP.” Housing opportunities vary in size, style, and price. You can find everything from luxury high rises to smaller multi-family apartments to historic buildings. It is also one of the most dog-friendly areas anywhere in the city!

North End

The North End is Boston’s oldest residential neighborhood and the city’s “Little Italy.” It’s home to a dazzling array of restaurants, bakeries, and espresso bars—there are approximately 100 eating establishments in this one-third-square mile neighborhood. Multi-family houses dominate this densely populated district, and it retains a close-knit family atmosphere. Rent in this area is high but not out of reach on a student budget.

South Boston

If the North End is Little Italy, the seaside community of South Boston (Southie) is Little Ireland. All types of apartments and homes can be found here, including multi-families and open-air lofts. Residents enjoy the area’s many perks, which include a neighborhood feel and closeness to downtown via public transportation.

And more…

Don’t worry if you don’t find the perfect apartment in one of the Boston neighborhoods above—there are plenty more! Many of Boston’s suburbs are popular among students as well, including Cambridge, Malden, Medford, and Somerville. (New England Law students also receive a comprehensive list of neighborhoods and apartment search tips when they enroll.)

Leasing an apartment

The final step in getting an apartment is signing a lease. Here are a few things to pay attention to before you sign on the dotted line—but keep in mind this is not an exhaustive list:

  • What is the term of the lease? Does it last for a specified period of time, or is it "at will," i.e., can be terminated at any time?
  • Who pays for utilities (electricity, gas, oil, hot water)? How are appliances powered, and what type of heating system does the apartment have?
  • Is a parking space included? Is there a parking fee?
  • What are the renewal terms, notice required for termination by either the landlord or the tenant, and subletting rules?
  • Who pays for repairs?
  • Are pets allowed?

Have fun and good luck!

If you follow this guide, you’ll be moving into your Boston apartment—and getting ready for your grad school classes—in no time! Just remember that there’s a lot more to finding housing in Boston than what’s covered here, so make sure you do plenty of research when you’re ready to make the move.

New England Law students receive plenty of housing information and advice once admitted too. They gain access to special apartment listings and a roommate-matching service. The Office of Admissions also holds housing sessions in the spring to allow students to ask questions and meet potential roommates as well.

Plan your visit to Boston and New England Law now.