Accommodation in Boston
Finding accommodation in Boston is difficult. The compact city centre receives an annual influx of university students, the housing market has dried up (although is showing signs of recovery), and prices continue to make it one of the most expensive places to buy or rent a home in the country. This is a large deterrent to potential city dwellers. Nevertheless, with a bit of patience and determination, expats are likely to find their ideal accommodation in Boston.
Types of accommodation in Boston
There is a diverse range of options when it comes to housing in Boston and expats can choose between large family homes, apartments and the historical brownstone rowhouses.
Brownstones are mostly historical homes built in the late 1800s. They are typically three or four stories high and made of brown or red brick. They’re usually built in a row, hence they’re also referred to as rowhouses, with street-facing fronts. Brownstones can be found in some of Boston’s more affluent areas such as Back Bay, North End and Beacon Hill, and are one of the most highly sought-after types of properties in the city, so they can be on the more expensive side. Although these homes are spacious and well built, parking is a distinct disadvantage, as these old homes usually only have on-street parking, with no garages or nearby parking lots.
There are a variety of apartment types in Boston from high-rise residential blocks to the more exclusive condo or loft options. These buildings usually include amenities such as air conditioning, central heating and laundry facilities. Apartments are the most popular type of accommodation in Boston and sought after across the board from students to young professionals and families.
Houses in Boston are mostly found in residential areas in the outer suburbs of the city. From large family homes to smaller units, there are plenty of options. Houses can be expensive in Boston, but they are popular with students who are looking for a house-share, to bring down the cost. Demand is therefore high for houses, so it can take some time to find the right spot, particularly before the start of the academic year.
Finding accommodation in Boston
There are plenty of online listings for property in Boston. Another option is to utilise the services of a reputable real estate agent.
The best time to look for rental property is at least a month before arrival. Apartments near downtown are steadily snatched up by university students, but the turnover rate is high. New tenants should expect to pay four times the normal rent in the first month for the security deposit, down payment and rental property agency fees. Agencies typically charge more than a month's rent as their commission.
It is possible to rent a room in a house, although it is not typically available for families. It is economical to rent a house as a group which is generally cheaper than renting single apartments – an option popular with students.
Factors to consider when house-hunting in Boston
As with most cities, accommodation near downtown Boston is the most expensive, though house prices in the suburbs are unusually high as well. Increasingly, property close to public transportation is becoming the most sought after and expensive.
When searching for a property in Boston, expats should consider the proximity of their home to their place of work and their children’s school. Access to public transport is also important, if not owning a car. One’s lifestyle and budget will of course also be important factors which will determine what type of accommodation in Boston to choose.
Signing a lease in Boston
When signing a lease in Boston, it’s important to read the contract carefully and to establish what exactly is included in the rental agreement and monthly payments, including utility and maintenance costs. It’s more common to have the utilities, such as electricity, water and gas, for the tenant’s own account, and they have to pay for this separately.
A deposit equivalent to a month’s rent is usually required as a deposit. The first and the last month’s rent is often also required to be paid upfront to secure the property.