The Great Apartment Hunt: How to Rent an Apartment in Boston

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Finding an apartment in Boston is an absolute nightmare. However, after 3 weeks of searching during the end of July, I have discovered that it’s a monster that you really can overcome. You just have to be willing to put in the time and effort.

My search was particularly difficult for several reasons. First, I wanted to live alone, sans roommates, for the sake of my own sanity. Second, I have a beautiful Yorkshire-Terrier/Bichon-Frise mix puppy. Finally, because I was unsure whether my job search would take me outside of the Boston area, I wasn’t able to start looking until the middle of July.

In the end, I was able to secure a beautiful 1 bedroom dog-friendly apartment for $1200 a month. In order to find a place that suits your own needs, here are some tips for your apartment search in Boston.

Know What You’re Willing To Give Up
Unless you’re blessed with an unlimited budget, you are going to have to give up something in order to find a good apartment. For example, in order to find a 1 bedroom apartment that fit my budget, I decided that I would be fine living further away from the central Boston area. This allowed me to expand my search to include the apartment that I ultimately chose, which happens to be in Brighton. Similarly, if you want to be in the middle of the Back Bay or the Fenway/Kenmore area, you might consider renting a studio instead of a 1 bedroom to save on costs. My previous apartment was a studio in the basement, which also saved me money.

Power Through Scams
If you decide to use Craigslist, chances are many of your apartment inquiries will come back with responses that are clearly the work of scam artists. When I was doing my search, I received about 10 messages from people who claimed to be out of the country. For the most part, these people would use a form letter, without using my name. In addition, they would ignore specific questions that I had in my email. While scams are obvious by the time you read the whole message, they can be extremely annoying. Try asking specific questions in your messages to potential landlords or rentors. You can do this easily by writing a little form letter of your own. Just click, copy, and paste a specific question that would likely not be answered in a form letter. For example, I would ask whether the apartment came with a full kitchen or to reconfirm that dogs were allowed.

Try Not to Get Too Attached
Don’t fall in love with the first apartment that you see. In Boston, there are likely hundreds of other people with the same search criteria in what they want in a new apartment. When I was searching, I found a place that was very cheap, allowed dogs, and had the nicest landlord I’ve ever met. Unfortunately, someone gave her a check only an hour after I saw the apartment.

Don’t Put Too Much Trust in the Realtor
Not to condemn realtors in any way, but you need to be realistic. If a realtor tells you that you can’t get an apartment for a certain price or in a certain area, what they really mean is that they have no listings that match what you’re looking for. I had several realtors tell me that I could not find a 1 bedroom for under $1450. Some of them even tried to get me to see studio apartments for $1400. Remember, unless you sign a form saying otherwise, you are not committed to that realtor. Even if your realtor is the friendliest, most honest, and stand-up man or woman you’ve ever met, if they don’t have the apartment that you’re looking for, you should rent through someone else.

In the end, remember that renting is only temporary. If you have to live in a place you don’t love, find ways to make it suit your needs and start saving up money for a better place next year.

1 Comment

  1. Great post! I hate using Craiglist because I feel like half the stuff there is either a scam are far from the truth. Fortunately I just found this website called PadMatcher, and it’s going pretty well for me. They can match you with apartments or you can look through their listings on your own! Definitely check it out: http://padmatcher.com/ Yet again, very interesting post.

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