Boston Housing Guide Dwelling Options

Do you plan to relocate your residence to the Boston, Massachusetts area? The process of moving in its entirety can be stressful to begin with. But combine it with hefty prices, tiny accommodations and the possibility of getting stuck somewhere you cannot stand for a year and the pressure gets worse. The city of Boston, specifically, is a challenging place to secure satisfactory and inexpensive housing. There are many different neighborhood options and lease contingencies one must consider. The smartest thing someone moving to Boston can do is to educate themselves about the housing options before performing the official search. And fortunately, individuals will likely find that as complicated as it seems, Boston housing consists of a few basic standards. Outlined below is a quick guide to understanding the overall housing options available to Boston residents. Be prepared to make a decision on which type of dwelling you wish to live in as one of your first steps in the moving process.

It is important to be aware of each and every type of housing option available in the Boston area. Perhaps even more wise would be to make a pros and cons comparison of each dwelling style side by side. The answers may seem obvious but writing the information will allow you to at least get this part of the decision making process outside of your head and onto something tangible. Then you can move on to other considerations.

There are several dwelling options available to individuals in Boston. Dwelling types include houses, apartments, dormitories and live in exchange for work situations.

Houses: Depending on the kind of money you have, you may choose to live in a full-fledged house as your primary place of residency. Upon considering this option, though, one should be fully prepared for what that entails in a city area, such as Boston. This is because, in the main urban metro area, you don’t really see your traditional styles of homes. Instead, you will see houses that are parts of entire brownstone buildings and several floors high. These downtown “houses” which are commonly found in the prestigious Beacon Hill area or Boston’s Back Bay, often disguise themselves as just another apartment building. Most do not even have their own lawn area and the only space between long lines of attached houses are the side streets marking the next blocks. There are also very few parking lots or garages.

Further in the outskirts of Boston, however, one of the more popular places being Brighton, specifically, separate house are seen more often. Unfortunately though, it seems the market price judges quantity over quality for these massive houses usually cost a fortune with little to show for it. In fact, unless you have a large family to fill up a multilevel house and enough money to support the group, an entire house for one or two people will not likely be a possible option. These dwelling locations are most commonly inhabited by groups of 4-5 college students or young professionals sharing the financial responsibilities on a fairly short term basis. On the outskirts, a typical price for five people would be something around $550-600 each per month with or without utilities. Downtown would be drastically higher.

Apartments: An apartment, usually found in a building of several, is probably the most common housing alternative chosen by new residents to Boston. An apartment is ideal for most, in that with so many places all throughout the greater metro Boston area, one can pretty much pick and choose their lodging preferences and predict their budget. It is also one of the easier dwelling styles to move in and out of without too many obligations. This option is usually the best for tenants who are uncertain about their length of desired residency in that particular spot or whose recent future is likely to pose great changes in occupation, financial or relationship status. Because the market is pretty steady for Realtors and building management companies, landlords of apartments are typically more understanding about these sometimes unpredictable lifestyle changes.

If you select an apartment as your preferred dwelling type, you must consider your available budget and then decide on a size and neighborhood. Just as the case with entire houses, apartments are usually cheaper and larger the further away from Boston downtown you get. This is also the case the further away you live from public transportation. But for apartments you have a few standard choices. A studio apartment, a one bedroom, a one bedroom split or a two or three bedroom. A studio apartment, which is very similar to an “efficiency” in many, more suburban areas, is essentially one simple room with a few basic amenities. In Boston there is often a separate door to the shower and toilet and sometimes a wall or partition to distinguish a small kitchen area. Beware that when searching classified ads for apartments, many Realtors like to overrate the size by claiming three rooms in an instance like this. Be sure that before you waste your time checking the place out in person, you ask for the specs regarding room dimensions. Don’t let yourself be fooled.

A one bedroom is just as it typically implies, but apartments listed officially as one bedrooms usually are referring to a place with two sizable rooms (that can each fit a bed) in addition to a kitchen area and separate bathroom. This option is usually the best bet for your money if you have a little more than the average young student or professional in Boston to spend and you want to live alone or with a significant other. Another popular option is a one bedroom split. This is like a one bedroom with a separate living room, kitchen and bath except for one small catch. The second bedroom/living room, which I suppose is known as the “split” is often severely small. Basically you are looking at a room that could fit a full sized bed and maybe a small nightstand if you are lucky. Very often individuals choose to use the split room as the TV area with a couch and media stand. In one bedroom splits, that extra tiny room serves as either another room leaving no common living area besides the bathroom and kitchen, or it is used as the only other common area. Either way these usually aren’t much cheaper than a full on second bedroom so unless you love the location you might want to consider the two bedroom apartment instead.

The three bedroom option is self explanatory but a bit hard to come by in large apartment buildings in the city. Two bedrooms are usually the largest sizes.

College Dormitories: The dormitory housing option is typically known as housing accommodations for college students, with each area of dorms designated to a particular nearby school. Depending on the regulations of each buildings affiliated college, each dorm has its own set of rules that students living there must adhere to. Most commonly you will see dorms with no smoking rules, no pets allowed and strict security inside and surrounding the building. Many college dorms require a student ID to enter above the lobby level and any visiting guests must be signed in by their residential friends. During the school year, students are usually assigned to a dorm room where they can live with as many people as none or sometimes up to five or six in a suite. The housing arrangement is usually secure for a year at a time, after which one must reapply for student housing and upon approval, be relocated to a new dorm room and/or building entirely. Dorms can be a less expensive and more convenient way for students to live in the Boston area, and they are a great way to strengthen one’s social ties, if you can deal with all of the rules. Each floor of the dorm is governed by one or more “RAs”, live in authorities who dictate and enforce rules on each dormitory resident. They are most often known for mandating consequences and fines to students who break rules. Each dorm, and occasionally each floor of a building has its own set of rules. Some colleges designate a few floors of their dormitories as “quiet” floors or “alcohol free” floors. Another common one is “health and wellness floor” or “honors students only”. This helps allow like minds to live and relate to one another in ways that they feel would be most comfortable for their personality types. When the school sessions are on break, dormitories are often rented out to other, seasonal groups if the school can find a practical way to make that happen to their financial benefit. Emerson College, for instance, has for many years allowed Boston Ballet students to live in their “Little Building” dorms on Boylston Street over the summer months when most college classes are not in session. This can be a good temporary housing option for people that have only come to the city for a specific program like that and are not sure how long they want to stay. If you are going to be involved with something like the Boston Ballet, or maybe another type of organization, ask if any of the nearby colleges offer dormitory housing options. It’s a safe, convenient and often less expensive alternative to signing a lease.

Live in and Work: Depending on your skills or primary profession, you may be able to find an employer that will allow you to live on the premises of your work place and cover your rent in exchange for your labor. This is most often a possibility for nannies, housekeepers, pet sitters, babysitters, etc. There are many families out there with very nice homes and an extra room that they have no problems giving away to someone who dedicates their time and talents toward their family and home. There are obviously pros and cons to this option as well. A primary benefit would be the ability to have a nice, secure place to live with people who probably care a good deal about you as if you were family to them. A negative aspect is that it could be just like living with your own family, with certain rules, curfews, etc that you must obey by. But individuals who have skills in this realm of expertise can find opportunities like this in the local newspapers, through web searches and often on fliers on street posts. They should be fully prepared to have their background investigated and to participate in a very extensive interviewing process.