Hunting for Your New Home
A guide for searching for a place to live in the Greater Boston area.
Explore housing listings in and around Boston; view photographs and floor plans; maps showing the housing location's proximity to the Institute campus, find a roommate and more. Search for housing on our off-campus housing site.
The Massachusetts General Hospital Multicultural Affairs Office website also offers extensive information and tips for living in Boston, including pros and cons of the city's different neighborhoods, housing resources, and other amenities of city living.
The Partners Housing Search Web site is also a great resource to post or find apartments, houses or sublets to rent or share. The Partners Housing Search Web site accepts listings for available rental properties by owner. The site does not accept listings for sale properties, postings from agents or properties that have a fee associated with them.
The MGH Institute’s website offers students the opportunity to create their own "Roommate Profile" on our Off-Campus Housing Search page to help you in your roommate search. If you have an apartment to share or need a roommate and apartment, you can create your very own Profile for other students to see. At the same time, please browse the many other students who have already created their profiles.
Getting yourself a roommate is one way to lower your housing costs. However, it's important to choose roommates carefully. Obviously, not all strangers make good roommates, but less obviously, not all friends make good roommates.
In an effort to screen incompatible persons from your search, you should ask all potential roommates the following questions:
Have you ever had a roommate before? What, if anything, bothered you about your past roommates? Did you fight with your roommate a lot? About what?
Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend or other friend who will be staying here?
Do you smoke? Drink? If yes to any, how often?
Do you stay out late on weekdays?
Did/do you have any credit problems?
Do you have any pets?
What is your occupation?
What do you like to watch on television? What music do you listen to?
What are your cooking and cleaning habits?
Whatever you ask, in the end you should feel very comfortable with your future roommate.
One last note, make sure your roommate co-signs the lease as well. If your name is the only one on the lease, then you shoulder the entire burden of responsibility for the apartment from a financial standpoint. If your roommate can't afford to pay, you'll be legally responsible for paying his/her share of the rent.
Boston is a wonderful city with many interesting and diverse neighborhoods. Each neighborhood offers a different atmosphere, as well as different price ranges on rental property. See Boston.gov's descriptions of neighborhoods.
Because of the excellent public transportation system in the Greater Boston area, many find it's convenient and less expensive to live outside Boston. Review description of suburbs in the Greater Boston area.
Realtors are an excellent resource to help figure out which neighborhoods you might like and can also afford. They really know about the neighborhoods in which they work. If you can, it is best to contact a few different realtors before you come for your first visit to Boston. Once you feel that you know which neighborhood you want to live in, you can begin working with the agent of your choice. Be aware that most agents could charge a finder's fee (this fee is often equal to one month’s rent.)Monthly rental rates vary according to location, number of bedrooms and condition of the apartment. Most apartments are not furnished and listed prices may not include utilities. Keep in mind that there are additional costs that you must consider in addition to rent. How much money do you actually need when you find your dream apartment and sign a lease?
Most apartments for rent require both first month’s rent and last month’s rent when you sign the lease. Make sure you have four months' rent up front when you sign the lease. This includes first and last month’s rent a security deposit and a renter’s fee (if applicable).
Keep in mind that when you work with a realtor they will most likely charge a fee which can equal up to a full month’s rent. Fees are divided into three categories: full fee, half fee and no fee.
Full fee means that the renter pays the entire fee, equal to one month’s rent.
Half fee means that the full fee is split between the landlord and the renter.
No fee means that the landlord pays the realtor or the realtor owns the building.
It is illegal for a landlord to charge any other up-front fees, including:
A deposit to hold the apartment for a prospective tenant.
A damage deposit or fee to allow a tenant to have a pet.
A finder's fee for renting an apartment that the landlord owns, unless he is a licensed realtor.
There are quite a number of things that you’ll need in your new apartment. They might be small, but their costs can add up. It’s important to create a budget for yourself so that you are living within your means. Transportation costs, utilities and food are just a few things to think about when you are creating a budget. Keep in mind that the number of roommates you have affects how many ways you will split the cost of utilities.
The monthly cost of rent is driven by the amenities that an apartment offers as well as the neighborhood it is located in. It is suggested that you make a list of the essentials and important aspects of your ideal living situation to help determine where you should conduct your search.
Note: The MGH Institute cannot accept responsibility for student satisfaction with any selected area. Because the housing choice is one of a personal nature, we strongly suggest that students visit and tour areas before signing a lease.
Subletting works in two ways: either you may be able to lease all or part of the leased premises to another person and retain some right to the original lease; or, you can be the person subletting the apartment. You must check with the landlord, in most cases, the lease will have a provision for subletting with their permission.
The original tenant is responsible for the actions of the sub-tenant. To avoid any confusion, enter into an arrangement carefully and obtain a written sublease.
Most agents charge a fee can be usually equal to one month rent. You may be required to sign a contract that holds you responsible for payment of the agent’s fee. This fee should be paid only after you have actually signed a lease for an apartment referred to you by that agent.
Some agents do require the fee, deposit, and initial rent upon application for a specific apartment. If this is required, do not relinquish money unless you are certain you want the apartment if the application is approved. Many landlords require initial payments of first and last month’s rent and a security deposit.
If a realtor helps you find an apartment, you can also expect to be charged a fee equal to one month’s rent (i.e., if one month’s is $600, expect to put down $2400 for the apartment).
Home stays will enrich the lives of exchange students as well as their own. As an alternative to apartment or dorm life, home stays are a way for international students to become acclimated and to learn about American customs, all while in the comforting setting of a home.
Home stays can range from a complete immersive family experience to a very basic room rental. In exchange for money students receive food, room and board, as well as the security net of family life in a new country. Students thrive in this environment socially and mentally.
For more specific information contact the Off-Campus Housing Office (OCHO) at 617-573-8647.
A word of caution regarding Craigslist Apartment listing scams from the MGH Police Department:
Rental Property Scam
The number of fake rental scams on Craigslist and other online classifieds continues to grow, with new aliases appearing daily. But while the names may change, the methods are always the same. These thieves, mainly based in Nigeria, the UK and the US, are out to steal your money and your identity.
They use yahoo, ymail, rocketmail, fastermail, live, hotmail and gmail, and they also post ads under anonymous craigslist addresses. They frequently change their aliases.
They use photos stolen from other property advertisements or from home furnishing catalogs or hotel websites. They use fake names, often stolen from Facebook profiles or networking sites. Often they assume the identities of previous victims.
What they all have in common is that sooner or later you get a request to transfer funds via Western Union, Moneygram or some other wire service.
Never, under any circumstance, wire money at the request of any prospective "landlord" via Western Union, Moneygram or any other wire service.
Even if they tell you to wire the fund to a friend's or relative's name "to be safe."
Never send a scan of your passport or other ID. These thieves will use your identity to scam others.
Should you feel that you are the victim of a scam, we recommend that you take the following actions:
- Report the incident to your local law enforcement agency.
- If you are affiliated with the Massachusetts General Hospital or the MGH Institute of Health Professions, please contact MGH Police & Security.
- Contact the three major credit reporting bureaus and request a fraud alert be placed on your account. View more information about placing a fraud alert.
- File a claim with The Internet Crime Complaint Center.
- Review the Federal Trade Commission’s web page concerning Identity Theft.