Apartment hunting: Essential advice for first-time renters in Boston


If it's your first time renting, you might find the experience quite daunting. The current housing market doesn't offer the ideal conditions for someone with no previous experience, which is precisely why you must do your research beforehand to ensure that you know what questions you must ask when looking for a property. Since you're a first-time renter, you don't have an actual rental history to show, a report that will provide landlords with the information they need to determine whether you would be a good tenant. That means you will need other documents that will strengthen your application.

Boston is renowned as a college area. Harvard, one of the most prestigious universities in the world and the oldest in the United States is located in Cambridge, a suburb of the Greater Boston metropolitan area, but other Ivy League universities, such as Yale and Brown, are relatively close as well and can be easily reached by train or bus. While many students choose to live on campus, there are also some who want to rent their own place, making renting in the Boston area a very competitive endeavor.


trees, the city of Boston in the background



Before you start looking for a property, you need to consider what amenities you need and are actually going to use. This should be an essential aspect that must be taken into consideration when you look at properties. For instance, you should decide if you feel comfortable using a laundromat or if you need to be able to do your laundry in the building. You might also want to look for a place located near bus, train or MBTA stations. Generally, the further away you are from public transportation, the more rents start going down, so you should take that into consideration if you're on a budget.


Research the neighborhoods

Doing some research on the different neighborhoods is also very important. If you can't decide between several different options, learning more about each of them should make it easier for you. You can even take to social media to find out more. On TikTok, the most popular app over the past few years, with the largest number of daily users, you can find images and even more in-depth analysis of different areas. Many content creators use TikCeleb so that their content is more likely to reach you.

Doing your research will also help you determine when the listings become available so you will be more efficient when hunting for an apartment.


September 1st

September 1st is the largest moving day of the year in Boston, so you might want to avoid it. The day is informally known as Allston Christmas, and it is estimated that roughly two-thirds of the apartment leases turn over on this day. Many of the tenants are students, and the apartments change hands over a twenty-four-hour period. During this time, the sidewalks are filled with numerous pieces of discarded furniture, including dressers, couches and mattresses, but there are also microwaves and toasters to choose from.

Avoiding this day also means sidestepping the hassle of Allston Christmas, which can be quite a lot for a first-timer to handle. Whether you're a student or not, you will avoid the traffic that comes with the giant moving vans, as well as the trash. August is the best time if you want your moving-in experience to be smoother. However, there will also be fewer places available to rent, so you must be quick.


Rental history

Since you don't have an actual rental history to speak of, you must organize several documents before the beginning of the rental process that can make the proceedings faster. Some of the ones that you must make sure to include are:

  • Verification of employment or income: You must prove you can pay your full rent on time.
  • References from your employer that can talk about your reliability, a fundamental trait landlords look for in lodgers
  • Identification photos
  • Personal references from someone other than your relatives that speak about you as a person and why the property manager wouldn't be wrong to choose you
  • References from neighbors that can attest to the fact that you're a respectful person that looks after your current home well. Being clean and orderly matters very much since no proprietor wants to rent to someone who will make a mess and damage the rooms or who has a habit of being incredibly noisy and bothering the other people in the building


Getting roommates

Depending on the area where you want to live, rent can be pretty high. However, if you're dead-set on living there, you should consider the possibility of getting roommates. Ideally, they should want similar living conditions or have the same habits. This way, you will be able to fully cover rent and utilities each month with no stress that you'll exceed the deadline.

Sharing your living space with someone else is also the preferred option if you can't find anything cheaper without compromising on things that are very important to you, such as proximity to the T system. Although it can sound less than ideal to some, having company can actually be helpful, especially if you're new to the city.


Money ready

When you start looking at properties and thinking about which you'll choose, you should also start getting your money ready. Start saving early so that you have a more considerable sum at the end. This is an integral part of being well-organized so that the renting process is smoother. That's especially true since you might find the location that's just right for you or one that might even exceed your expectations, and you'll want to have the means to sign for it right away.

Another vital consideration to have in mind is whether you'd feel more comfortable in a big city or somewhere that's quaint and more relaxing. While the rents are higher in the case of the former, you're also closer to the excitement of the large metropolitan areas and have everything more readily available. You might be able to look for a deal as well. However, if you don't mind the longer commutes and living in the city is exhausting for you, then you'll enjoy the smaller communities as well.

When you're looking for rent in Boston, you must do your research first so that you can find the best options available for you.