Post # 1
Hello everyone! We’ll be moving to Boston in August for grad school and I know absolutely nothing about the city, where to live, how to find an apt (I heard something about fees? I’m from socal and never heard of that!) I’ll be going to Harvard so we’re looking for something in that area. What are the good neighborhoods? Also, does anyone know what the job market is like for engineers? My fiance is a mechanical engineer and will be looking for a job. Anything else about Boston would be great! Thanks!!
Post # 3
Hey! if you are going to Harvard, I would look in the Cambridge/Sommerville area. Cambridge is so cute! I love it, they have such great restaraunts, shops and bars. I’d find a real estate agent in the area. I don’t know much about housing or the job market for engineers, but I could tell you places to go, and eat in the city if your interested!
Post # 4
Congrats! You will love it here! I assume you are going to be at the Cambridge campus? (there is a Longwood medical – related campus, too)
Post # 5
ah, fees… the bane of every renter’s existence. Many brokers charge a one-month broker fee on top of first, last, and security. A $1500 a month apartment can cost you $6000 up front! But many are willing to waive at least one of these fees, or only charge a half-month broker fee…. it seems to depend on the market. Before I bought a place, I always tried to find apartments that were being rented by the owner, to avoid paying the broker fee all together. Craigslist can be helpful ’cause they let you narrow your search to "by owner only" apartments.
I second Cambridge/Somerville as a great area (it’s where I live)… specifically Porter Square, Davis Square, or Harvard Square itself. Inman Square is also great but it’s a bit of a hike to the T.
Post # 6
YAY!! You’ll love Boston. I second the Cambridge/Somerville suggestion if you will be going to main-campus Harvard…although Allston/Brighton has great bus service to the area and is on the green-line which could be helpful for your fiance if he ends up working in Back Bay.
Within Cambridge/Somerville, I would suggest looking for places within walking distance of either Harvard Square (obviously), Central Square, Porter Square or Davis Square which are all stops on the Red Line. There are places out near Alewife as well, but then you are four stops away on the Red Line…which honestly doesn’t take that much extra time and you get a bit more apartment for your money.
One thing to keep in mind is that unlike many other metropolitan areas, most of the apartment opportunities in the area are in duplexes as opposed to apartment complexes…there ARE complexes around, but most housing is duplexes, especially on that side of the river.
I would actually recommend searching for a place via Craigslist if you have any idea of the areas in which you would like to live. You can opt to search for owner listings only and that will keep out the brokers. But if you don’t know the area well, or don’t have time to visit the places or don’t have a friend in the area to help you out, than you will want to use an agent/broker and there will be a fee. Although, some places offer to pay the fee for you depending on the rental market.
This is the time to start looking for great apartments though. Most of the good ones start getting picked up April/May. ‘Moving Day’, which is the day in the city that most apartment leases switch over, is September 1…keep in mind, it is next to impossible to 1) get around the city on that day (because of all the trucks unloading in the middle of the road) and 2) rent a truck unless you have rented WAY in advance. Of course, if you are coming from California, you probably won’t be renting a truck in the area, but I figured I would give you a heads up.
Let us know if you have any other questions…Boston is a GREAT place to live!! Congrats on the move.
Post # 7
I support everyone’s suggestion on living in Cambridge/Somerville. I currently live in Cambridge, and it’s separated into squares/neighborhoods. Harvard Square is where Harvard’s campus is, but all the squares are accessible by the Red Line (train), so it’s an easy commute to school. Cambridge is pricy, so Somerville is a more affordable town to live in. I would suggest Davis Square if you are looking into Somerville. Allston/Brighton is a college neighborhood (think undergrad partying/high rent/low quality apts), but is also convenient to Harvard. If you are bringing/getting a car, I would ask about parking when you are looking into apts. Parking is tough in dense neighborhoods, despite having a resident parking permit. Renting in Boston is also an option if you can afford it. I would stick to Copley/Back Bay/Beacon Hill. I would suggest against Dorchester/Roxbury/Mattapan (that’s where all the shootings occur… but then there are also some gorgeous old victorians in those neighborhoods and pockets of cute restaurants/stores/etc, go figure). I wouldn’t suggest it for newbies to the city, maybe later when you get settled into the city. Craigslist is great if you have the time/oppty to come check out the apts on your own. If not, go with a rental agent.
The perfect neighborhood would depend on what you are looking for. Are you looking for artsy/hip or quiet/family or want to live in an area densely packed with bars/restaurants? If you tell us your perfect neighborhood, we can narrow it down for you. Also, how much are you willing to pay for rent? If you want to live in Cambridge, you are probably going to have to pay at least $1300 for a one-bedroom give or take $200.
Email me if you want more advice [email protected]
Post # 8
You’ve gotten some great advice already so I won’t go into too much detail, but I just wanted to reiterate a few things. Definitely start looking for an apt ASAP because all the good ones aer usually taken by the summer months… May is definitely the time to find a place for a Sept 1 move-in date. Also, if you can avoid a Sept 1 move in date you’ll be glad you did (like, try to negotiate for Sept 15… or at least, start the lease 9/1 but do not move in that day!!) because it is such a miserable day to be moving in Boston- EVERYONE is! Once you find an apt, you may also want to ask your landlord about paying to reserve the space in front of your apartment so no one can park there. That helps a lot.
Definitely avoid Dorchester/Roxbury/Mattapan! I agree your best bet is Cambridge/Somerville, but other great places that wouldn’t be too inconvenient are Brighton/Allston/Brookline, or like someone else mentioned, right in the city- Copley area, North End… You really can’t go wrong as long as you avoid Dorchester/Roxbury/Mattapan. Look at a map and get a feel for the neighborhoods surrounding Harvard and when you come out here to look at apartments, you’ll be able to tell which areas you like best, etc.
And as for fees, you can find realtors that do not charge a fee, you just have to ask. Don’t be fooled by Craigslist, you can click on no-fee apartments and find a realtor and think you’re alll set and then he does actually charge a fee. I have worked with the company Gateway Realty 139 brighton ave, allston, ma-for some reason I have two phone numbers for them- 617-739-0600 and 617-254-8080- and they’ve been great, willing to come down in prices, and did not charge a fee. Good luck! Let us know if you have any other questions!
Post # 9
I didn’t have time to read everyone else’s suggestions, but I’m sure they are good.
Your Fiance should have no problem finding work- there loads of science jobs around here.
As for neighborhoods, I would actually suggest my neighborhood- Arlington, MA. If you look for apartments in east Arlington (walking distance to the Alewife T stop on the Red Line) you can see that it’s right on the border with Cambridge. I work in Cambridge (Kendall/MIT) and it’s really convenient. The plus about Arlington is that you get a lot more space for your rent money, off street parking, and much lower car insurance rates than Cambridge/Somerville.
The fees are charged by brokers, but a lot of landlords rent stuff themselves through Craig’s List so you can avoid them.
Actually- my husband and I are probably moving to a larger place in July- so our place in Arlington might be opening up (1 br, big lr, dr, eat in kitchen, dishwasher, washer/dryer, 2 off street parking spots, 10min walk to Alewife all for $1400) if you’re interested!
Good luck with the move!
Post # 10
Wow the suggestions here are great! I won’t double up on what everyone else is saying … I will also let you in on the best kept secret (just joking it’s not really a secret) … http://www.boston.com … it is the website of the Boston Globe – and it’s awesome. You can find anything and everything you could imagine on there. It’s not just news (though they are very good at that) but they have real estate, night life, city life … everything.
*almost* welcome to boston!! please don’t hesitate to be in touch if you have any questions!
Post # 11
Everyone has given really great advice so far, so I’ll keep this short. I tried looking for apts with a few different brokers in the Cambridge/Somerville area. You must be extremely clear about what you are looking for: size, condition, amenities,distance from public transportation, etc. Many areas of Cambridge/Somerville are readily bus-accessible, but not so much by T. Definitely check on maps if you will rely on buses/T. I was also shown countless apartments that were nothing at all close to what was advertised. If you have a friend who could help scout out places, that would be wonderful. Also, you should check to see if Harvard keeps listings of off-campus, or Harvard-owned (but non-dormitory) residences. MIT has lists like this only accessible to students/faculty and that is how we found our current apt. If this is a possibility for you the rent is often somewhat subsidized, or at least not quite at peak price. I know a couple who are moving out of state in July; their place is quite nice and a great price for the space. Davis Square area in Somerville. If you’d like more info let me know: [email protected]
Good luck with the apt search and your move!
Post # 12
I lived near Central Square (closer to the Harvard Sq. side, but still not in the Harvard zone), my entire time at Harvard and loved it. I esp. like the area near Harvard St. Inman Sq. is also v. nice, but a much further walk to the T which is a pain in winter and may be an issue depending on where your Fiance gets a job. It is quite nice to be walking distance to campus, though most of my friends and classmates lived in Somerville or across the river. So Cambridge is my vote, but not everyone’s b/c it is definitely more expensive. Watertown and Arlington are also a good, less expensive options that have direct bus lines to Harvard. Keep in mind that coming from SoCal the winters will feel brutal. I’m from Michigan and I was not prepared for how windy it gets and how icy the sidewalks are…minimizing your walk (or having transportation alternatives even if they are not super efficient on really cold days) can help a lot if this may be an issue for you.
One thing to note is that Harvard does have its own housing office where individuals post rentals that might not be available anywhere else. It was not too difficult getting in to look before I had my ID (I think I just got a letter on letterhead from my dept).
I think Craigslist is a good way around brokers’ fees, but many places managed by bigger property owners will still work through them so beware that even on Craigslist some postings will be from brokers.
Post # 13
Hi! My fiance are moving from Norcal to Boston in July. I grew up and went to school in Boston though before moving to California for grad school a few hours ago. My fiance is also an engineer- civil engineering- and had some difficulty finding a job b/c of the economy, but most companies say things should look up by summer’s end.
We found a nice apt near Central Square, Cambridge. I never had to use a broker on the West Coast, but it seems like that’s the way to go in Cambridge.
Please feel free to message me directly with any questions about jobs or apt searching!
Post # 14
Hi, everyone commented about the living situation. I just wanted to add that Fiance is also a mechanical engineer. He was looking for jobs last year though, so the job market was much better. From what I remember, he didn’t find too much within Boston. He went on interviews outside of Boston and he’s working at a company now that’s 40 miles south of Boston. Some of his offers were closer to Boston but he picked this particular one based on pay and the type of work he’ll be doing. Hope this helps.