Whether you’re here for 9, 18, or 30 months, you'll need a safe environment
to call home while you attend NBSS. The metro Boston rental market tends to have an August 15 through September 1 lease period due to the large student population attending the many Boston area colleges and universities (56 in the metro Boston area alone). Apartments with a lease start date of September are often listed as early as March. The market for a lease start date in January or February is not subject to the same higher education cycle.
Factors for finding a place to live include:
workable living space
distance and commute
monthly transportation costs
Knowing Your Rights
Knowing your rights as a tenant in and around the City of Boston is key to successful off-campus living. Check out the Boston Rental Housing Center's website for more information regarding your rights as well as to receive free mediation for housing-related disputes. Also, don't forget to stay up-to-date with Massachusetts Laws from both a landlord and tenant perspective.
Many students elect to live alone or with roommates in apartments within commuting distance of the School. Some prefer to live in the North End, the neighborhood immediately surrounding the School, for convenience and familiarity. However, on-street parking in the North End is virtually nonexistent. Private parking in the North End is expensive and rents are at a premium so the North End may not be the best option for someone on a tight budget and/or with a vehicle.
There are many residential neighborhoods within a 30- to 45-minute commute on public transportation lines (subway, bus, commuter rail, ferry or combination). Some typical neighborhoods where students choose to live include: Cambridge, Arlington, Somerville, Watertown, Brookline, Brighton, Allston, Charlestown, Roslindale, Roxbury, Malden, Melrose, East Boston, Jamaica Plain, Winthrop and Chelsea. Each of these neighborhoods has a somewhat different character; if you’re unfamiliar with the Boston area, please review the Residential/Neighborhoods section of the City of Boston website:
In general, average minimum rents in the Boston metro area are:
$1,250 and up per month for a studio to one-bedroom apartment
$2,300 and up per month for a two-bedroom, single bath apartment
RentHop mapped the median rent for one-bedroom apartments across Boston based on listings within 500 meters of each T stop. Click here to view the article and map with corresponding median rents.
Students searching for housing through real estate agents should expect to pay up to one (1) month’s rent as a broker’s fee to the agent upon rental. Sometimes agents will negotiate the amount of the fee so it never hurts to ask if the fee can be reduced. No-fee apartments are also advertised and available, but it takes more effort to track them down. Be aware that apartments go fast; when looking, be ready to put a deposit (see below) down immediately on an apartment that you like.
Costs to secure a rental apartment
When renting an unfurnished apartment, be prepared to pay three (3) months worth of rent up front (a one-month security deposit, the first month's rent, and the last month's rent). Tenants are entitled to interest on money that the landlord holds in escrow until the end of the tenancy. All apartments must comply with state housing standards: heat and plumbing must be in good working order, there must be common area security, two means of egress, etc. Be aware that in Massachusetts lead paint will be an issue affecting the housing search for those who have small children. In any case, check out all questionable items before signing a lease.
For more information on tenants’ rights and responsibilities, visit the website for the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts at:
In general, apartments outside the downtown neighborhoods of Beacon Hill, Back Bay, and the North End will provide more space for the money.
Renting with roommates
Students willing to live with one or more roommates can expect to spend from $700-
$1000/month. NBSS students seeking roommates can check the bulletin board outside the North Suite at School. For a fee, students can join an online roommate listing service, such as
. Some students have had success finding apartments and roommates by using these websites (see below).
General Rental Requirements
Rental requirements vary based on the owner and the building. The following are a few general guidelines:
You will need to show an income of at least three (3) times the annual rent
(unless you are relying on a cosigner).
You must sign the agency disclosure document stating the relationship of the agent to client and the fee situation.
You must show a secure and stable employment history.
You must have good credit history or a co-signer with the same.
You must have a social security number or other acceptable identification documents.
You must show a good rental history.
All students must have a guarantor to co-sign their lease. Some buildings do not allow undergraduate students to rent.
Applying for an Apartment and Signing a Lease
Once you have found an apartment, the next step is to apply and then sign the lease. A few things to keep in mind:
Bring all paperwork and funds required including:
employment and income verifications, including pay-stubs
at least one (1) month's rent in form of a check or credit card (be sure your landlord accepts credit card payments first).
When filling out the application, make sure you keep in mind all the specific requirements that the landlord was looking for: your income, employment, living preferences, etc. Your goal is to show the landlord that you are the right tenant for their property. Typically, you will need to leave a deposit equal to one (1) month's rent which is fully refundable if your application is not accepted. Once your application is accepted, you are bound to the apartment you are applying for. If you decide to back out at this point, your deposit is forfeited to the landlord. It usually takes anywhere from an hour to a week to hear back from a landlord. Once you have been accepted for your Boston apartment, you can go ahead with the lease signing. Read the entire lease and make sure you understand key elements such as: rental fee(s), term of lease, utilities, maintenance, pets, garbage collection, etc.