Common Housing Options
Apartments or Houses are the most popular form of housing available to students. Students can often double or triple up in order to keep costs low for everyone. Generally heating cost is included in the rent in an apartment building. If you are thinking about renting a house, each unit will usually pay their own heating costs. Hot water may or may not be included when renting a house. Heat is usually supplied in the form of gas or oil. Make sure you consider the cost of heat when making a decision about what type of housing accommodation you are seeking. Heating bills can be particularly costly in the colder winter months. Other utilities such as gas (for stoves) and electricity are usually not included in the cost of rent when you’re renting a house.
At the time of signing a lease, most landlords require tenants to pay first month’s rent, last month’s rent, and a security deposit in the amount of one month’s rent to cover any damages that may occur to the apartment. Keep this in mind when budgeting for move-in costs. Anytime you pay the landlord, you should ask for a receipt indicating the amount paid and for what purpose. Be sure you want to commit to a particular apartment before you pay these fees; they may not be refundable.
Most apartment units will be equipped with a refrigerator and stove. Some house rentals may only provide a stove. Most apartments and house rentals are unfurnished unless the advertisement and lease state otherwise.
Boston is the third most expensive housing rental market in the United States. Therefore, plan accordingly for what you can afford and what your expectations are. Average housing costs are $850/month for a studio apartment, $1,100/month for a one-bedroom apartment, $1,400/month for a two-bedroom apartment, and $2,100/month for a three-bedroom apartment.
Individuals who advertise as “seeking roommates” usually already have a place to live, but are looking for additional roommates. If you are thinking about moving into an already established apartment, you should meet with the prospective roommates to discuss lifestyles, expectations, furnishings, and housewares. In many cases, the room available will be unfurnished. Usually it will be a private room, but be sure to ask if you will be sharing a bedroom with anyone.
Many homeowners or families may advertise for an available room or “homestay.” These can be either long or short term. Usually the room available will be private. Room rentals in the area average from $450-$700/month, including utilities. Rooms in homestay situations are usually furnished, but be sure to ask the owner. Also be sure to discuss kitchen arrangements and whether or not meals will be included. You should approach the owner about what restrictions you may have on certain privileges (overnight guests, parking, internet and telephone use, etc.) to make sure the situation will be a good fit for you.
Homestays are a great option for international students who want to feel like a part of a family.
Homestays generally don’t require a lease, but some owners require a deposit equal to one month’s rent. As with any other housing arrangement, be sure to request a receipt any time you provide the owner with payment or deposits.
Leases typically run for a full calendar year. In Boston, the most typical lease term is September 1 – August 31. If you decide not to stay in Boston for the summer, you may want to sublet your apartment. Some leases require that landlord give permission before a tenant can sublet his/her apartment.
It is usually easier to find someone to sublet your apartment for the summer if you leave the apartment/room furnished. Even if you find another tenant to take over your portion of the lease, you are still responsible for any unpaid rent and damages caused by sublettors. Therefore some tenants require sublettors to pay a deposit greater than the amount of rent required under the lease. Make sure you keep this money separate from any of your personal funds so it can be refunded to the sublettor at the end of the lease.
Instead of a sublet, many tenants choose to “assign” the time remaining on their lease to the new tenant. In the case of a lease assignment, the new tenant is liable directly to the landlord for any unpaid rent or damages to the apartment. Lease assignments are typically only used where the original tenant will not be renewing their lease for the following year and plan to entirely vacate the premises at the time you sign the assignment agreement.
For more information on subletting or lease assignments, click here.
For more detail on price comparisons by local neighborhoods, click here.