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A housing advisor and a faculty advisor will hold regular office hours at the Longwood campus on the last Tuesday of each month. The advisors will be available to answer questions and provide up-to-date information about off-campus and affiliated housing to all Harvard ID holders. Please call the Housing Office at 617-495-3377 with questions.
Housing in Boston is in limited supply, and rents are among the highest in the country. We recommend that you plan to spend time checking out the different areas and applying for apartments.
Places to stay while looking:
- Bertram Inn, 92 Sewall Avenue Brookline, MA 02446, 1-800-295-3822 ($109-$229 per night, subject to change).
- The Inn at Longwood, Best Western Boston, 342 Longwood Avenue Boston, MA 02115, 800-GOT-BEST, 617-731-4700 phone, 617-731-4870 fax, Info@innatlongwood.com. $169-$309 per night, subject to change
- Hostels - The least expensive lodging in Boston can be found at the 40 Berkeley Hostel, which is run by the YWCA and Hostelling International Boston. These both have limited amenities but are considerably less expensive than a hotel room.
When renting an apartment, you are often required to pay:
- first month’s rent,
- last month’s rent,
- and/or security deposit when you sign the lease. The average rent for studios and one-bedrooms in most areas go for around $1,000-$1,500 per month.
- If you use a realtor, you may also be required to pay a realtor fee (see Realtors and Realtor Fees).
Harvard Housing advisors are at the Longwood Medical Area one day a week. Call 617-495-3378 or visit the link for a schedule.
Vanderbilt Hall, the Harvard Medical School dormitory rents available rooms on a monthly basis with a one month minimum stay at about $800/month. There may be a waiting list and rooms are not available for some portions of the year so this is only a good option for a short-term stay. They also provide a list of options for "Short Term Accommodations "which might be useful for your first week or month here.
Harvard School of Public Health has a housing resource page.
Harvard International Office provides some recommendations on their web site.
Take a look at advertisements in the daily newspapers and notices on bulletin boards. The lobby in Vanderbilt hall is a favorite posting place for Medical School Students to advertise for roommates or to sub-lease their apartment.
Craig’s List is a very popular site for finding an apartment and/or roommates on-line.
There is a service called Boston Homestay Incorporated that bills itself as “a homestay placement service for International Students and Business/Medical Professionals seeking an alternative to dormitory lodging, hotel stays, and apartment dwelling.” They offer rooms in private homes for short stays of several weeks to several months. The economy room rates are $600-$700 per month and $300 per week.
Allston, Brighton, Jamaica Plain (“JP”), Fenway, Brookline, Beacon Hill, the Back Bay, South End, South Boston (different from the South End; the western edge, near the Red line, is the most convenient) and most of Cambridge, Somerville and Newton are all convenient to the Longwood Medical Area. But most of Greater Boston is accessible, if you don’t mind adding 20-40 minutes to your commute. The above referenced areas listed are names for areas of Boston, except for Newton, Brookline, Cambridge and Somerville, which are different towns with separate administrations, school districts, etc.
- Allston has a very industrial past and still holds the remnants of its history. Allston's population includes lots of students and young families. It is a mixed neighborhood with discount furniture stores and thrift stores as well as trendy eateries, pool halls and bars. It's a lively area in all the hours of the day and night. Harvard owns quite a bit of property in Allston and you may want to check out the Allston Initiative.
- Brighton borders on Allston. It was home to a lot of agricultural plots and industry but the addition of the street car lines helped to encourage residential neighborhood growth. Brighton is now very residential and quiet. The population is primarily made up of graduate students, families and young professionals. The housing is a maze of streets with houses and small apartment buildings. There are quite a few local family businesses as well as chain stores. Washington Street is the main street which runs straight through Brighton Center to Oak Square.
- Jamaica Plain, or JP as it is called, is very mixed as far as ethnicity, sexual orientation and economics are concerned. JP is located between Roxbury and Brookline. It is a rich, diverse neighborhood which is close to the Longwood area that allows its inhabitants to live as if in the suburbs. It boasts the Arnold Arboretum which is the jewel in Frederick Olmstead's park creation, the Emerald Necklace, as well as Jamaica Pond.
- Fenway is a neighborhood in Boston. It is the closest residential neighborhood to the Medical School. This is a student neighborhood. It is convenient to public transportation, a nice park and Fenway Park Stadium. A company called Copley Rentals, 109 Queensberry St. Boston, 02115, (617-247-3070) manages most of the large apartment buildings in this neighborhood. The area can be described as only "moderately" safe for street crime and theft. Although crime in general has been significantly reduced in Boston in recent years. The Residences at Fenway is scheduled to open in Summer 2006 on Brookline Ave & Kilmarnock Street. Harvard has purchased 170 of the 580 apartments and they’ll be available for students, faculty and staff by a lottery conducted a few months prior to opening. These units will be priced at market–rate but will have the advantage of being brand new and very close to HMS.
- Brookline is a popular town for people working in the Medical Area, particularly if they have children. It is close to the Medical School, attractive, safe and has a reputation for excellent schools. Housing here can be expensive and apartments are usually found through rental agencies.
- Another close neighborhood is Mission Hill, with a combination of freestanding houses, blocks of traditional brick rowhouses, and many three deckers. It is a diverse community close to downtown. Many students from nearby Northeastern as well as HMS students chose to live in this neighborhood.
- Roslindale, like Jamaica Plain is also quite diverse. Roslindale Square, in the center of the neighborhood, is the subject of a National Trust for Historic Preservation Main Street award. It is considered to be an example of the value of historic and aesthetic preservation in economic revitalization.
- Beacon Hill, is an old neighborhood with cobblestone streets and brick rowhouses. It houses the Boston Common and the Public Garden, America's first botanical garden. Senator John Kerry lives here and the State House Rotunda, covered in gold leaf, is easily seen when looking across the Charles River at the Boston skyline. This is an elegant and expensive part of Boston with great architecture
- Back Bay, is located behind the Public Garden. It is also an elegant and expensive part of the city. Back Bay includes fine shopping on Newbury Street and exclusive real estate.
The City of Boston website has additional information about the different Boston neighborhoods.
Different towns have surprisingly different personalities when it comes to parking. Brookline has NO on street parking overnight (even if you’re a resident), so it is difficult to keep a car in Brookline unless your apartment comes with a parking space. Many other towns have large areas of “resident parking only”. But the resident parking stickers are usually free or very cheap.
Rents are expensive so many postdocs have roommates. Most people find roommates either through personal contacts or notices on bulletin boards, such as the bulletin board in the lobby of Vanderbilt Hall. There is also a bulletin board in the Harvard School of Public Health. The Harvard University Housing Office keeps a list of persons looking for roommates.
Some realtors or real estate agents handle the rental of apartments and houses as well as sales. It is best to have someone familiar with the area recommend a reputable realtor. Realtors usually charge a one-time fee of equal to at least half but most often one full month’s rent. You pay the realtor’s fee only if you sign a lease.
No fee apartments do exist and are usually rented directly from the owner of the property. Most of these listings will be found in the newspaper or on websites (see Links, below).
Most landlords require tenants to sign a lease, a legally binding contract outlining the conditions which both the landlord and the tenant agree to meet. Leases are usually for one year. Do check that you understand what you’re signing before you sign it. Your signature on a lease commits you to pay the amount of rent specified on the lease every month for the duration of the lease whether you occupy the apartment or not.
Landlords may ask for the first and last month’s rent when you sign a lease. Some will also require a security deposit (equal to a month’s rent). The security deposit will be returned to you when your lease has ended, provided that there has been no damage to the property. For your protection, the landlord must document in writing any damage, which existed before you moved in the apartment. Many landlords now handle this by asking you to write an “apartment condition statement” within 15 days of moving in.
Does the rental price of an apartment or house cover utilities (heat, electricity, gas)? The cost of heat and electricity is an important consideration when you are pricing apartments.
Water usage for apartments is usually included in the rent.
If utilities are not included in your rent, your monthly expenses will be considerably higher, especially if the apartment is heated by electricity. Find out from your landlord which type of heat you have and which company supplies the service. You can ask the utility company for an estimate of the monthly bills for that apartment. Before moving in you will also need to call each of the utility companies to arrange service.
Anyone living in a rented apartment should consider having personal property insurance (renter's insurance) to cover both property loss and personal liability. When discussing your coverage with an insurance representative, you should mention any special conditions such as subletting, roommate coverage, or additional coverage for expensive items like jewelry, personal computers, and stereo equipment. If you have automobile insurance, you may want to contact your insurer to see if they offer renter’s insurance. Many companies offer discounts if you hold multiple policies with them. Renter’s insurance can be as inexpensive as $100/year.
Massachusetts Housing and Rental Laws site.
The Harvard Housing Office maintains current information on housing owned by the University and other landlords in the Cambridge/Boston area and also assists with the process of buying a place. It provides listings of apartments and houses for rent and for sale, roommate files, and work/housing exchange opportunities.
- This site will also ask you for a Harvard ID, but you can enter 9999 instead and that will work.
- 617-495-3377, 800-252-5020. Until you have a Harvard ID, the people at the housing office will need to see your offer letter.
Harvard University offers employees a wide range of real estate services, including cash back when buying or selling a home; individualized counseling; representation throughout the buying and selling processes; and free home buying seminars. The program is administered by Harvard Real Estate Services and offered through Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. For details, please call Harvard Real Estate Services at 617-495-9368, visit the Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage web site at http://www.newenglandmoves.com/home/index.htm, or call them at 1-800-874-0701 and ask for the Harvard representative. Please do not contact a real estate agent before registering for this program or you may not be eligible to receive the benefits.
Home Mortgage Financing:
You can benefit from interest rate discounts of up to 1/4%, discounted closing fees, and home equity loans through Harvard's preferred mortgage lender program.