As an incoming graduate student at Boston University, one of the major steps that you will take will be finding a place to live. There are a number of options in terms of neighborhood, housing type, cost, roommates, etc. that will play a factor in your decision, but the best thing you can do is to start thinking about housing and working on finding a place as soon as you can.
As a student who just finished up my first year at BU, I will share with you a handful of things that I wish I had known when I was moving here.
South Campus- is exactly what it sounds like, a portion of the BU campus, located just south of the College of Communication. The housing units are made up of BU owned brownstone apartments (studios and 1 bedroom units) that are about a 5 minute walk from school. The proximity to campus, and the fact that BU owns and operates the buildings are huge pluses. The only down side is that the cost is slightly higher than you will find in other neighborhoods.
Brookline- a very nice neighborhood south of campus. There are bars, restaurants, parks, good access to the C-Line of the Green Train, which runs right near campus, and it’s the birthplace of Conan O’Brien. The area is made up of some students, but mostly young adults and families, and has less of a college feel than other areas close to BU. Brookline is truly a great option for BU graduate students, but is also more expensive than other neighborhoods. If you are interested in Brookline I would suggest seeking a roommate to help split the cost.
Brighton- a couple miles west of campus, and is easily accessible via the B-Line of the Green Train. This area is mostly students, although there are some young
professionals and families as well. Brighton is about halfway between BU and Boston College, so it is a good mix of students from both schools. The prices in Brighton are less than those in Brookline, and there are plenty of grocery stores and restaurants to amuse. Full disclosure, I live in Brighton and I really like it. The only downside is that it’s slightly further from campus than other neighborhoods where students live. My commute is about 25-30 minutes on the train each morning. If you don’t mind taking a little longer to get to school each day, then Brighton is a very nice option.
Allston- the area just west of campus. It is very convenient in terms of location to the school and there are many restaurant and shopping options. Prices are also pretty reasonable. Depending on what you are looking for in terms of your neighborhood Allston might be right for you. We do find however, that some graduate students don’t prefer Allston due to the high volume of undergraduate students and bars. I don’t want to discourage anyone from checking out Allston, or even living there, but for me as a graduate student it didn’t seem like a good fit. I wanted an area that is slightly quieter, which is why I picked Brighton.
Cambridge/Somerville- These two area offer reasonable prices and lots of restaurants and shopping. The downside is that they are pretty far away from BU. You would have to plan for a much longer commute if you decided to live here, but it might be worth it in terms of apartment value.
Now how about roommates
As far as finding roommates there are a number of options. We offer a roommate sign up list in the College of Communication which can be found here.
Some students have found roommates through mutual friends, and others have used craigslist. But we suggest adding your name to the sign up list if you are interested in living with another person.
The process of searching
Once you decide which neighborhood you like, and if you want to live with a roommate, it is time to actually find a place. There are a handful of different ways to go about this. One way is to simply take to craigslist and try to find listings yourself. We have a number of students who have had success finding housing this way, but it can be tough due to the fact that most apartment complexes are run by management groups. What I did to find my apartment was contact a realty company. I used SCS Realty in Brookline, but I am sure other companies are similarly good. These companies work with the management groups to help find renters. The realty company will schedule a handful of apartment viewings for you in your chosen neighborhood and in your specified price range. While they do charge a fee for their services, using a realty company is an effective way to find a place.
We also offer help finding housing through the office of rental property management, which you can find here.
Also, if you can’t make the trip to Boston to search for housing and you are going through this process from another part of the country, we are happy to help. Sometimes realty companies won’t allow you to sign the lease without seeing the unit, and we are happy to go see it for you. We can text pictures and videos of the place to you, as well as offer our opinion of the value.
Hopefully this was helpful. There are a lot of great places to live near BU, now that you are armed with all of this info that I wish I had last year, you should have no problem finding a nice place to live.