Finding a place to live in when starting law school can be stressful, exciting, and confusing all at the same time. The Boston area is fast paced, and relocating from another state might seem daunting. Luckily, we’ve enlisted the help of New England Law 3L student, Rachel Feins, to give you a rundown of what she wishes she knew when she was in the process of relocating for law school.
Prioritize Your Wish List
First thing’s first, what does your new place have to have, and what are your deal breakers? My priorities were a dishwasher, hardwood floors, and close to public transit. Parking is far from guaranteed in the city, so I recommend researching MBTA lines and buses that are close to apartments that you’re considering. Figure out about what your potential commute would be to New England Law. Long commutes aren’t for everyone, so plan accordingly.
The Moving Cycle
Boston runs on a September move-in cycle. That means that most apartments are rented starting September 1st, with a year lease running to the following September. There are apartments with leases that start in August or July, but you may have to look harder and be ready to jump on a place that you like RIGHT AWAY! You’ll also need to decide whether you’re comfortable signing a lease without an in-person tour. Many brokers in the Boston area are now offering virtual showing options. My roommate and I signed for a place sight unseen, we got very lucky, but we also had to sign a form acknowledging that we are signing a lease for a place sight unseen.
In addition to finding out what the rent is for a particular place will be and what utilities are or aren’t included, be aware of what additional fees might apply. When moving to Boston most apartments are listed through brokers and real estate companies, so you will have to pay a broker fee. Brokers fees vary, but in my experience it’s usually equal to one month’s rent. It’s not uncommon for first (and sometimes lasts!) month’s rent, a security deposit, and brokers fee to all be due at signing once you’ve been approved for your apartment. You can also expect to pay an application fee during the approval process. *There are apartments that may not require brokers fees on Facebook and Craigslist, but watch out for scams*
Precautions for Students
Being a student puts you in a different circumstance in the eyes of landlords and brokers. Consider that not everyone will welcome a renter who’s in school rather than working full-time. Even after passing a credit check, you also still may need a co-signer simply because you are a student. Understand that this is a possibility, and don’t put all your eggs in one basket in terms of pursuing potential residences.
Choosing an apartment or house in the Boston area is just the first step in your exciting next chapter! Once you cross the t’s and dot the I’s on your new place, it’s time to start getting a head start on the list of 101 things to do in Boston before you graduate.
About Rachel Feins ’21: Rachel is rising third year law student in the full time program who moved to Boston from Bedford, New Hampshire. Her focus is on intellectual property, entertainment law, and corporate compliance. Currently, she serves as the Student Bar Association Secretary of Communication, and the President of the Jewish Law Student Association.