With two other students from my business school, we decided to live together for the whole year off-campus because we wanted to feel like real Americans. Having my own room and my own kitchen is something I’m really attached to, and also seeing familiar faces when you come back from class is quite nice.
Before choosing your apartment we had to determine a budget. I would advise you to watch the renting market and see what the prices are. Take a look at the different neighborhoods that could interest you. Allston is filled with students from many different colleges and universities. Brighton is a bit quieter, but still has many students living there. I live in the latter, and many students live in my building. Think about how many people you could live with. Some like to live in a house with 6 to 8 people, others prefer to share an apartment with 2 or 3 others. The options are really open and up to you. Most leases last 1 year but it is possible to find others of 6 months. A common practice that happens if you won’t make it to the end of your lease is to look for new roommates who could fill the last 2 or 3 months left you could have.
You have to be very active on your research of apartments a few months before your arrival. For instance, if you start next September, you should find something by July. I did my searches on the internet, but don’t underestimate social media! Facebook is a great source of rentals; there are many groups dedicated to that issue. When you find an apartment that interests you, don’t hesitate to contact the landlord or current occupant and ask for a visit through Skype! We avoided places that didn’t look like the pictures we saw thanks to this. Whatever country you are from, there are many groups of people who help each other on Facebook. For example, French people can ask questions or share experiences on a group called “Boston French Connection,” which has more than 5,000 members. You should look into that and not hesitate to say you are looking for an apartment. People genuinely like to help people from their home country.
When my roommates and I arrived in the apartment, we were not disappointed and expected to look just like it did thanks to a Skype visit. We now had to start putting in some furniture. A common practice that I was not aware of and seemed really odd to me was that on September 1st, people leave all kinds of stuff and furniture in the street because they feel like they won’t use it anymore. Then, arriving students take this opportunity to find lamps, tables, chairs, and sometimes even couches and beds for free! But I would advise you to buy your own bed because finding a bed in the street is probably not the most hygienic thing. In France, most people just go to Ikea during moving days because finding something in the street and picking it up is seen as nasty even if it’s in good shape and free.
When it came to filling up our fridge, there were 3 different options around our location:
- Star Market: $
- Target: $$
- Whole Foods: $$$
Getting ready for and living off-campus is really easy at Boston University.