Housing Search Timeline & Helpful Tips
Apartment Search Timeline
Apartment hunting can be challenging, especially when you don’t even know where to begin. Refer to our sample timeline to figure out if you’re on track for a September 1 move-in.
Think about what neighborhood you want to live in and whether or not you want to live with friends. Also think about what type of housing you’re looking for (how many roommates do you want to live with, would you prefer to live in an apartment building or a house, etc.) and how much money you can spend on housing each month. If you want to move in with friends, you should have some serious roommate conversations. Make sure you discuss things like sleep and study habits, sharing personal items, and guests and visitors. Try to address as many of these topics as possible before you sign a lease. Once you sign a lease, you will be locked into it for the entire year.
Prepare a monthly budget. Write down your current bills and add in future rent, utilities, and renters insurance payments. Also, make sure you plan to save money to offset moving costs. Explore different areas of Boston and decide what neighborhood you’d like to live in.
June / July
Begin to look for apartments and houses in your price range. Start reviewing the Housing Registry Database as well as other web resources listed on the Office of Student Housing website.
Tour the apartments and talk to the landlord. If you can, ask neighbors about the area and the landlord. Make sure you visit the apartment at multiple times of day, including at night and during daylight to check for noise and possible safety concerns.
Once you’ve located an apartment, request a draft of the lease from the landlord. Read the entire lease and, if possible, contact a lawyer to review the lease with you. Before signing the lease, schedule a time to walk through the apartment with your landlord to discuss previously existing damage to the apartment. Get a written schedule of maintenance from the landlord. Check all safety items to make sure they are in functional condition. This includes door locks and deadbolts, window locks, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fire escapes and ladders, and fire extinguishers. Send the landlord a written request that your locks be changed after the current tenant moves out. This is for your safety.
For a sample letter requesting a lock change, click here.
Make sure the lease specifies a move-in date that works for you and your roommates. Sign the lease and get a receipt for any deposits (first month’s rent, last month’s rent, and security deposit) left with the landlord. Do not pay these deposits in cash. Be sure to get a signed copy of the lease with the landlord’s address and contact information as well as information as to who to contact for maintenance problems.
Decide on a move-in date. All roommates should arrive on the same date and at the same time, if possible. Decide what furniture and household items everyone will bring.
Fill out a roommate agreement with everyone living in the apartment to ensure you understand each other’s expectations of what it means to be roommates.
Set up your utilities at least two weeks before moving in.
On Move-In Day
Walk through the apartment with your landlord again and take pictures of any damage before you move your belongings into the apartment. Fill out an apartment condition report so you can avoid being charged for pre-existing damage in the apartment. Make sure everything works (run the shower, flush the toilet, test the appliances, and double-check safety items) and inform the landlord immediately if maintenance needs to be conducted.
Decide who will live in each room and talk about how furniture and household items should be arranged. Be careful throughout the moving process not to cause any damage to the walls, floors, ceilings, or stairwells.
Make sure you review your lease and your previously signed roommate agreement with your roommates.
Helpful Tips for Apartment Hunting
- Know your monthly budget. You can’t live somewhere if you can’t afford it.
- Decide if you want (or need) to have a roommate. Have serious conversations about expectations for living together.
- Create a “Wants and Needs” list before you begin searching. Consider price, distance to campus and commute time, number of bedrooms, and parking.
- Meet the landlord and management of your potential apartment and take a tour of the apartment.
- Talk to neighbors in the area and ask questions about the property, the landlord, the management, and the neighborhood.
- Visit the neighborhood during both the day and at night to look for noise or safety concerns.
- Take note of safety features. Are doors visible from the street? Do the doors have deadbolts? Do the locks work? What is the lighting like at night? Are the grounds well maintained and bushes trimmed? Does the apartment have working smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers? Are the fire escapes well maintained?
- Check all of appliances to make sure they work.
- Check the bathroom and under the kitchen sink. Run the sinks, bath, shower, and flush the toilet. Look for water stains on the ceiling and take note of the water pressure in the apartment.
- Make sure there is enough space for your belongings. Make sure you bring a measuring tape with you.