By Sabrina Marnoto
It’s a beautiful day where you are. You finally receive the awaited email that you are officially accepted into Northeastern University’s Boston campus. You jump into the air and immediately start packing only to realize you need a new suitcase, winter coat, bed, and apartment! Don’t worry, the COE ambassadors are here to help you navigate how to affordably move to a new city.
Locate your living
Boston is the largest city in Massachusetts with a rich history and a beautiful four-season location close to mountains, beaches, and other populated cities. Living in a city can be pricey, though, with rents ranging from $600-$2000 per person depending on where and what kind of apartment you are looking for. The more people you live with, the less you will pay in rent. Sharing a room can also drastically reduce your rent. Some apartments are also known as “splits” which just means that the apartment turns a living room into a bedroom, which will reduce the rent by increasing the number of total bedrooms in the apartment.
The largest factor that controls the cost of rent is where you live. Generally, the closer to central Boston you are, the more expensive the apartment will become. Many of our students live a little bit away from campus and take public transit there. Below is a map of Boston below to point out some affordable neighborhoods and the ones that are within 40 min commute via public transit are highlighted. I also noted the price for rent in each area using dollar signs with $ signifying the most affordable and $$$$ signifying the most expensive.
$$$$: Backbay/Beacon Hill, Central, South End
$$$: Fenway/Kenmore, South Boston
$$: Jamaica Plain, Allston/Brighton, East Boston, Charlestown
$: Roxbury, Dorchester, Roslindale, Mattapan, West Roxbury
Other options outside of Boston but very close:
$$: Medford, Malden, Quincy, Brookline
$: Revere, Chelsea
All right, so you’ve picked your desired neighborhood. Now you need a way to get to campus.
Don’t fuss with the Bus
Northeastern University is in a perfect location for commuters. The university is accessible to the Northeastern stop on the green E-line subway and the Ruggles stop on the orange line. The Ruggles stop is also home to multiple bus routes such as the CT2, CT3, 8, 9, 15, 19, 22, 23, 28, 29, 39, 42, 44, 45, and 47 bus as well as a commuter rail stop for the Franklin/Foxboro Line, Needham Line, and Providence/Stoughton Line. Below is a map of the Boston public transit system with a red star on Northeastern’s Boston campus. I highly recommend adding 10 minutes to whatever commute time your maps app suggested to account for waiting for public transport.
Now you know how to get to class, but what about the actual apartment?
Find your flatmate
** DISCLAIMER, be very cautious about finding your apartment and even using some of the sites listed below! There are scammers everywhere! If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be sure to talk to the off-campus housing department at Northeastern before signing a lease or paying anyone!
There are multiple sites to find apartments. The biggest ones are apartments.com, bostonpads.com, bostonapartments.com, trulia.com, and Northeastern University’s off-campus housing website: aptsearch.northeastern.edu. Many of these websites will find you an apartment with a new lease working with a broker. Keep in mind that if you are entering a new lease, you may need to pay first and last months’ rent, a security deposit, and a broker’s fee which usually sums up to 4 months of rent. If you want to avoid paying some of these fees, you can jump onto a current lease or work with a private landlord.
To find roommates or a current lease, you can go through Facebook groups (but be cautious), splitspot.com, or you can go through Northeastern off-campus housing.
Facebook housing groups are a way for people to find roommates, and fill rooms, for private landlords to find tenants, and unfortunately for scammers to scam. Be especially cautious with whom you trust on Facebook groups. There are a lot of Facebook groups for housing, below are two of the most popular. I found my first apartment in Boston using Facebook where two students needed one more tenant to fill a room. Before I signed any lease, I went to the apartment in person, met my potential roommates, and brought my lease to the off-campus housing department to make sure that it was legitimate.
The other way to jump on a lease if you’re looking for a private room is through splitspot. Splitspot.com is a website that offers private rooms rather than entire apartments. Before signing the lease, the current tenants need to approve a new roommate and you need to approve the current tenants.
The last and most secure way of finding roommates is through the Northeastern off-campus housing website which requires a Northeastern login to enter the roommate search portal: https://aptsearch.northeastern.edu/login.
Afford to dwell well
Furnishing an apartment can be very expensive. Luckily, Boston is home to a wide range of thrift and second-hand stores to help you get your apartment looking cozy. Here’s a list of some of my favorites:
Goodwill: located in Jamaica Plain, Allston, South end, South Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville
Boomerangs: located in Jamaica Plain
Savers: located in West Roxbury
Salvation Army: located in Medford.
We wish you the best of luck in your apartment search. Feel free to reach out to any ambassador with any questions!