A Place To Call Your Own

We depart from our regularly scheduled programming (unsuccessful attempts at snarky humor) to bring you some useful information. As a new law student in Boston, one of the first things you are going to need to take care of is finding a place to stay. Here are some general guidelines that hopefully will get you on your way.

I want to buy my new place and stay there for a few years. Well, look at you, Mr. Moneybags. Someone clearly made a lot of money selling drugs legal pharmaceutical products during your post-undergraduate job. Either that or you are one of those “organized” law students with the assets to put down the money for a solid mortgage. Or maybe you’re married to a spouse with a job, in which case, mazel tov. In any event, I don’t recommend this option for your first year unless you have spent considerable time in Boston before and you have a very good sense of the neighborhoods around town. Wait until the following spring, when you’ve settled in a bit, and rent an apartment for the first few months (see below). If you really are set on this plan, make sure you go through an organized broker you can trust.

My parents/uncle/third cousins live in the Boston area, and I’m going to live with them to save some cash. Not a bad idea, but it has some drawbacks. First, law school is just as much about personal growth as it is about academic and professional growth. Living with family may be a step back for this, and it’s something to consider. It also helps to have a place closer to school for networking/underground poker games/whatever. On that note, if your family doesn’t live within an easy (and I don’t mean “only two bus transfers” easy) 30 minute commute from the law school, it may be more inconvenient than it is worth, particularly in the winter time.

Help! I need an apartment but I’ve never spent more than 24 hours in Boston. Well, there are plenty of options for you, but now is the time to start looking. General guidelines for apartments:

  1. As best as I can tell, market rent for a BU law student is $700-900 a month, with most people paying about $800. This should include heat and hot water, particularly since most buildings have communal water heaters and furnaces. This is going to go up if you go it alone in a studio or a 1 bedroom and you don’t have a roommate.
  2. Try to avoid unsupervised sites like Craigslist. Even “by-owner” apartment listings are going to have mostly realtor entries and you’re just going to end up getting swindled. On that note, beware of by-owner apartments unless you know and trust the landlord before you move in. The general rule of thumb is that if the landlord is sketchy, your perfect apartment is going to end up being just as sketchy and it’s not going to be worth the trouble.
  3. As such, try sticking to legitimate rental agencies that have a history of renting to people other than Sully, the sixth-year BC undergrad looking for a rockin’ party pad with a kegerator. Good agencies will know landlords that won’t rent to undergrad students at all – a key factor if you don’t want to read your next Contracts case while the room above you plays the same Journey song for the 8th time that night. Two agencies that I have worked with and have had moderate success: First Choice Realty and Metro Realty Boston.
  4. Location is key: you’re going to want to find a place that is near either the 57 bus line, the Green B Line, or the Green C Line. All of these will get you within a couple of blocks of the law school. You can go out as far into the neighborhoods of Fenway, Allston, Brighton, or Brookline as you want as long as they’re close to a bus or train stop.

Make sure you start looking early and often – but get things done before August 1, when most companies and landlords will try to charge you extra fees and put extra conditions on your rent.

Whoa… $800/month is way too expensive. Well, Sir Spendthrift, if you put the effort into it now you can find cheap places to stay – but it’s going to take persistence, tenacity, and a lot of luck. The farther out you go from the law school into the Allston/Brighton area, the cheaper apartments are going to be. But, on that note, it’s important that you account for the time and actual costs of transportation when you’re looking for a place. These opportunities are out there, but again, make sure the facilities and landlord aren’t going to make 1920s slumlords seem like Nobel Prize nominees.

I need an apartment, but I don’t want to put any effort into it. Are you busy solving world hunger this summer or something? No matter. There are even a couple of options for you.

  1. Find a roommate who already has an apartment. This is pretty easy, since BU Law usually has roommate postings for law students or grad students looking to take on homeless 1Ls. You can also put your own profile up and have all of these established Boston residents come to you.
  2. Use on-campus graduate housing. The basic set-up is four apartments to a suite. The rooms are big, the facilities are pretty nice, and almost all units are walking distance to the campus. There are drawbacks as far as cost, but it’s an easy and fast housing option. These units may go quickly, though, so if this something you want to do, make sure you get on it, pronto.

These are both realistic options for housing. Email the admissions office for links to these resources.

On that note, that’s all I’ve got. Good luck everyone. It may not be the place of your dreams, but as a first year, you won’t be spending too much time at home anyway. If only the library had a couple of futons…