Your Guide To Finding The Perfect Apartment: Step 1

Looking for an apartment can be one of the scariest experiences if you don’t know where to start. Lucky for you, I’ve been through the Boston apartment hunt and I’ve got a lot of tips for you, whether you are looking in Boston or elsewhere!

The timeline for this step is December/January!

Okay!  So to get started, here are some questions you should ask yourself!

What am I comfortable spending per month on housing (rent, utilities, food, etc.)?

A lot of apartments don’t come with utilities included, so it is important to think about what your max budget is going to be per month so you are not accidentally spending more than that with the cost of food and utilities.  

Who am I going to be living with?

In Boston, there is a rule that no more than four (4) undergraduates can be living in one shared apartment at any given time.  If you are planning on having more than four people, you might have to move a little further outside the city to avoid this regulation.  It is also important to note that looking into housing restrictions no matter where you are moving is important to do before deciding where you want to live.

How many bedrooms are you going to need?

In addition, when looking at apartments, you want to see if double occupancy is allowed.  Because a lot of apartments my roommate and I looked at did allow double occupancy, we could look at apartments with less rooms.  We were willing to split one of the rooms (there are 3 of us) and get a two bedroom apartment if necessary. Two bedroom apartments are less expensive than three or more bedrooms, so this is a good way to help stick to the budget (and just think, you’ve already been living in half a room anyway if you lived in the dorms, so it's not that much different!)

Will you need a cosigner?  If so do you have one?

Apartments are expensive, and I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t make enough money to afford one by myself working part-time.  Because there is usually a minimum income requirement to rent an apartment, you are most likely going to need a cosigner, much like you do with student loans.  This person should be someone you trust and you are close to, considering if you don’t pay your rent they can get sued (moral of the story is PAY YOUR RENT)!

What Neighborhood is going to be the right fit for my roommates and me?

There are many different neighborhoods in the Boston area that students can move into, so it's all about finding the right fit!  Don’t choose anything unrealistic, because each neighborhood does have its own set of price points. Don’t expect a three bedroom in Beacon Hill to cost you $600 per month; it’s not going to happen.  If you keep your budget and expectations realistic, you’ll have no problem finding something that fits your needs, even if it isn’t in your first choice neighborhood(––we all want to live in Beacon Hill, but sometimes it just isn’t possible)!

How am I going to get to and from campus and other locations?

If you are moving a little outside of the city, you might need to consider getting a car (or bringing your car from home) to help get you to and from campus.  If you do this, however, keep in mind that you will probably need to pay for a parking spot and/or parking near or on-campus. Otherwise, you want to make sure that there are public transportation options available near your apartment. If you’re living in Boston, this might be a good time to look into getting a semester T pass.  Most schools have some type of discount if you buy it through them, so I would contact your Off-Campus Student Service department for more information on that!

Step 1 is in the books!  Tune in next week for step 2 to finding your future apartment!