When to look for apartments in Boston


Boston apartments are increasing in popularity with every passing month. If you're on the lookout for a new apartment in the Boston area, there are several factors to consider during the process.

People carrying boxes, plants


How can you find the best apartments in Boston?

There are a lot of websites to search apartments for rent online. These let you filter apartment listings according to your requirements. Whether you need a one bedroom, studio apartment, or any available apartments in downtown Boston, these sites can help you save both time and hassle.

Boston Apartments is one example of such a website that serves the rental market. Like a few other platforms, we offer a real-time database, filters for property type, price, and more.

Certain demographics, such as college students, usually don't have much choice about the timing of their apartment searches. They might have to go for any available apartments that have the correct location and a relatively low rent at the beginning of their semester.

However, if you or a family member are looking for an apartment in Boston and have the luxury of choice, do your homework beforehand. There have been many horror stories of people paying exorbitant rates for apartments that weren't up to the mark.

If you want better luck while looking for rental properties in the Boston area, it's important to know the right time to start. Paying rent can be a great expense in this city, but you might be able to get the best deals if the timing is right.


When to Look for Apartments in Boston

Before we start discussing the best times to start apartment hunting, keep in mind the time period you want to move-in. By looking at the rental trends in the market and your own life plans, it's possible to figure out the best time to start this search.

Not sure about when to start looking for apartments in Boston? Here are some factors to remember while looking at apartment listings:


The September 1st Lease Cycles

If you're planning a September move, chances are that people have told you about the city's September 1st lease cycles. A lot of apartments in Boston operate on these cycles.

Consider the fact that there are more than a hundred university and college campuses. Most of these offer classes and courses that start in the beginning of September.

With the semester schedules, and also because of the Boston climate at that time of year, the demand for apartments goes up. Most leases in Boston start at the beginning of this month, so it might be best to work your plans around it.


High Rises or Privately-Owned Apartments?

If you're considering a move to an apartment complex or high rise, keep in mind that all the units may not have the same turnover day for leases. Many high rises have a 60-day renewal policy, meaning that the management there knows which apartments will be available at least two months before your intended move-in date.

If you want to move into a complex or high-rise apartment building, schedule a visit to tour the place early on. After that, get on the waiting list for the available apartments on the date you require. In a property like this, most of the units are identical. You won't have to worry much about getting just the right apartment after reading up on what that particular building has to offer.

If you want to move to a brownstone or privately-owned apartment, though, the timing is even more important. Below is a month-by-month analysis, according to their potential, for apartment hunting:


1. A January Move

Around this month, most of the colleges in Boston have a semester break for the holidays. If you're planning a move this time of the year, find an apartment in Boston around 60 to 90 days before January 1st.

The main reason for getting an early start here is that students are usually on the hunt for semester rentals in January. You want to beat that crowd, especially if one of the priorities is to find affordable accommodations.


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2. A February Move

The month of February is where turnover rates for leases are relatively stable, meaning the apartment market will not have a high turnover. So, you'd probably be safe starting your search around 30 to 45 days before February 1st.


3. A March Move

Like February, March is a relatively low turnover month. You can start looking for an apartment in Boston around 30 to 45 days before March 1st.


4. An April Move

This month marks the start of spring, though the weather is still fickle. With the Boston Marathon held this month, you may have trouble finding temporary accommodations, like an AirBnB. Other than this, April also usually sees low turnovers for rentals in Boston. Again, you can probably start a successful apartment search 30 to 45 days before April starts.


5. A May Move

May is when the weather starts getting nice and pleasant in Boston, so apartments also get more popular this time of the year. If you want to move into an apartment in Boston at the beginning of May, start around 45 to 60 days before the intended date.


6. A June Move

June is the month with the second-largest turnover from Boston apartments, with September being the first in this category. You may find that most leases for an apartment in Boston are on a June to June cycle. If you start your search 60 to 90 days before this month, you just might find a lot of June apartments opening up.


7. A July Move

This month is where certain specialized schools in Boston begin their July programs. This could potentially bring out several people who want to rent an apartment in Boston. But the inventory is usually low. If you want to get a head start on the rental market this month, start at least 60 to 90 days before it begins.


8. An August Move

There are many potential renters who want to get a head start on September apartments, so they request a move-in during August. With that said, you'll probably be better off waiting a little more and moving in September, as there isn't a lot of inventory in August. If this month is the best time for you, though, start your search around 60 to 90 days before the intended move-in date.


9. A September Move

Since September is the most popular month for renting an apartment in Boston, you'll have to start planning very early for this one. Starting around 180 days before the first of September is a good idea.

As mentioned above, this is the month when the schools, universities, and colleges start their classes, driving up the demand for apartments. The student apartments are typically the first to go, so you should start at the beginning of the year if you fall into this category. If you're not a college or university student, you can hopefully hold off the search until March, April, or even May.


10. An October Move

Remember that these available apartments in October will usually be the ones that weren't rented out during September.

The good news is that you can start your apartment search on the first of September, which is potentially just 30 days before your move-in date. So, it's a good time for those who want to move quickly.


11. A November or December Move

Both November and December aren't months with a high turnover. Potential renters don't need to begin their search too early; 30 to 45 days before their intended move-in date should be enough.

Having a monthly analysis like the one above is just a starting point. There will be other factors influencing the timing of your apartment search. Your budget, desired location, amenities, and lifestyle goals will all determine what kind of apartment you want. They will also help determine how much time you have to find a decent apartment before they're all gone. Other than college or university students, people who have to start work in the Boston area also need to get a head start on finding the perfect apartment.


Other Tips and Information to Keep in Mind

Other than the information on monthly availability of apartments in Boston, here are some other tips and info for potential Boston renters:


The best month for making a good deal

If you especially want a great deal on your new apartment, October is the best month to aim for. The apartments left over from September will be available, and their owners will want to rent them out by at least October 1st. Of course, you may have to compromise on location, amenities, and a host of other factors.

The rule of thumb here is that the busier months are not likely to get you a good deal on rent. When the month has a low turnover rate, you have a better chance of swooping in and getting a passable rental at a bargain.

With that said, do remember that a vacant apartment doesn't necessarily mean a great deal. The owner might still have a tenant on lease who is paying their rent.

If the main goal is simply to find accommodation, you may want to look at the option of manufactured homes vs. apartments.


September for options

Most apartments in Boston are available for rent from September 1st onwards. If you want a successful September 1st move-in, go for it after starting your search early on. You'll get a lot more options.

Students who have 9/1 leases know beforehand whether they want to go for a lease renewal or not. By this logic, these student apartments are usually on the market first. The rest of the 9/1 apartments enter the market later on during spring.


Availability of apartments

In Boston, and most other areas, you cannot expect apartments to become available earlier than the advertised date. Someone will usually be on lease until that point, so don't hold out any false hopes. View only those units that have the right available date for your planned move-in.


Planning a visit

The timing of your apartment search should also include a personal visit to the place beforehand. If possible, make the trip in the middle of the week. Weekends might be more convenient for you, but the same goes for most people. This makes agents extra busy on weekends, which could also make you feel rushed.

You may even get to see better options during the work week. So, see if you can take a day off work for this important step. Keep in mind that any options available around a week or more before your visit might be gone within a few days. This is why it is best to go for options that are available just a couple of days before your visit.


The Takeaway

Do you specifically want to live in Beacon Hill, Back Bay, or any place in the Boston area near a commuter rail? The first step is to know when to start looking for apartments, and then, shift to the various moving tasks.

Hunting for an apartment is not easy for any location, but Boston is a huge city with premium rental rates. Thousands of potential renters will be looking for the same units as you and your family. Make sure to go for that apartment tour completely prepared to sign, or someone might beat you to it.

Landing a great apartment in Boston might be difficult, but it's absolutely possible with the right steps and a bit of luck. Start with the information above, and get a head start in the game!