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How to Find an Apartment in Boston, MA 2022

February 25, 2022

Commonly referred to as the City of Champions, Boston is a growing city that offers residents the perfect blend of big city living with a small-town feel. With a great central location, living in Boston means that you’re also easily connected to the Northeastern part of the county. Enjoy quick access to everything from coveted vacation destinations, breathtaking beaches, and nearby metropolises.

While you might think Boston is the city for you, figuring out how to find an apartment on your own can be incredibly time-consuming. Thankfully, we’re here to help by providing you with a guide to simplify the process and ensure you find the best rental possible when moving to Boston.

Here’s how you can find the best apartment amenities and neighborhoods in Boston.

How to Find the Best Boston Neighborhood

Despite being a large metropolitan city, Boston is filled with highly walkable, tight-knit communities. The cultural opportunities available throughout the city are nearly limitless, covering everything from the arts, music, history, and architecture.

Boston is an excellent place for young professionals and families alike. With so much to offer, narrowing down your options when choosing a location can be rather challenging.

The best Boston neighborhoods are unique. Boston was founded in the 1630s making it a goldmine for historical attractions and dazzling architecture. The good news is that whatever you’re looking for in terms of rental options, you’re sure to find them in Boston.

Here's a brief Boston neighborhood guide to get started to narrow down your options!

1. Back Bay

Back Bay is an iconic Boston neighborhood, offering some of the best shopping and dining in the city. For lovers of trendy cafes, art galleries, and designer boutiques, Back Bay is the Boston neighborhood for you.

While it was swampland nearly 200 years ago, modern-day Back Bay is an affluent area that has become increasingly popular for residents and tourists alike. Here, you’ll even find the first botanical garden in the country, the Public Garden.

2. South End

For renters looking to live smack dab in the center of all the latest happenings, South End is the best neighborhood to live that lifestyle. With everything from trendy coffee shops, restaurants, and bustling pubs, you’ll never find a shortage of things to do in the South End.

South End is filled with recent grads and young professionals immersing themselves in the Boston culture. Here, they enjoy local farmers' markets in the spring and fall, as weather permits, and even dabble in the SoWa Art & Design District.

3. Beacon Hill

One of the most photographed streets in the country is Acorn Street, located in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston. As you can imagine, the entire neighborhood is filled with picture-perfect views of the incredible city. In Beacon Hill, you can enjoy a rich history paired with urban amenities aplenty.

The famous pub, Cheers, is located in Beacon Hill, paying homage to the culture of this Boston neighborhood. The Massachusetts State House and Boston Common can also be found in this picturesque neighborhood and some of the best antique shopping along Charles Street.

4. Allston-Brighton Area

The Allston-Brighton Area was named after the painter and poet Washington Allston. Today, this neighborhood is filled with countless things to do and see. The Allston-Brighton Area is home to many students and young professionals, filled with parks, restaurants, and bars.

Gastropubs like Deep Ellum and the Silhouette Lounge, often referred to as “the Sil,” are some of the favorite local watering holes. For the sports fans, Harvard Stadium is located in Lower Alston to catch a game during the season.

5. Charleston

Once a meeting place for Revolutionary War battleground leaders, Charleston is considered one of the city’s best neighborhoods. Charleston of the present is filled with families and young professionals enjoying the neighborhood's old-world vibe and green spaces.

This neighborhood screams history, with antique gas lamps illuminating the streets nightly. A fun local activity includes bar hopping and shopping in City Square, along Main Street.

How Much are Apartments in Boston

Are you considering the move to Boston? Before you start packing your boxes and suitcases, you need to learn more about the average rent prices in the area.

Average Rent in Boston

Boston rents have increased by 4.44% compared to last month and are up by 1.75% compared to the previous year. Here’s more information to help you determine your budget:

  • 0.1% of apartments in Boston cost less than $1,000 per month.
  • 12% of apartments in Boston cost between $1,000-$1,999 per month.
  • 37% of apartments in Boston cost between $2,000-$2,999 per month.
  • 51% of apartments in Boston cost over $3,000 per month.

How to Find Cheap Apartments in Boston

If you’re wondering how to find an apartment in the famous city of Boston, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re looking to find a _cheap _apartment in the City of Champions, you’re going to have to conduct a decent amount of research. Thankfully, with the help of our guide from Apartment List, you are sure to find something you not only love in Boston but that you can also afford.

It’s time to learn how to budget for your first apartment if you have not already done so. As expected, there are plenty of expenses that come with renting an apartment in Boston. That’s where your budget will help to keep you in line. Just make sure that when you are determining your budget, you are making sure to include some of the necessary expenses, including:

  • Rent
  • Cable/internet
  • Moving expenses
  • Heating and gas
  • Electricity
  • Etc.

As you begin putting your expenses together, you might start feeling a bit overwhelmed. However, there are plenty of ways to reduce your expense. Consider taking advantage of some cost-saving tricks like continually seeking out different move-in specials or being mindful of seasonality when renting.

What’s the Best Time to Find an Apartment in Boston

Take note of the rental market’s seasonality when looking for a Boston apartment. Boston rates consistently show that seasonality can impact rent prices, common to rental trends across the country.

People are generally less interested in moving during the winter, especially in areas prone to snow, like Boston. It just so happens that people aren’t as eager to pack up and move during this time of the year between the less favorable weather and the added stress of the holidays. As a result, apartments are often available at lower rates, and more apartments are available during the winter than during other seasons.

The most popular time for moving is during the summer. During this time, the rental market tends to be more expensive and competitive. As much as you can control the timing of your move, you should aim to avoid the summer months for a big move to Boston.

Come prepared with all of your proper documentation when looking at Boston apartments, regardless of the season. Being ready to sign a lease agreement on the spot may help you to beat out your competition and get the apartment of your dreams.

How to Find an Apartment in Boston

Learn the steps to finding an apartment in Boston! Here’s the process:

Determine Your Budget

Another critical aspect of finding your perfect apartment in Boston is determining your rental budget. The recommended 30% rule is one method you can use to calculate your rental budget. According to the 30% rule, your rent should not take up more than 30% of your gross income or pre-taxed monthly take-home pay.

An example of the 30% rule would be looking for a one-bedroom apartment in Boston with an average rent price of $3,193. You can use the 30% rule to determine your minimum gross income by using the following formula:

  • 10/3 x rent price

Based on this rule, your gross income should be about $10,643 per month or about $127,720 annually.

Understand the Trust Cost of Renting

It’s important to remember that the 30% rule works best as a baseline rather than an exact picture of what your rental budget should look like. The 30% rule does not account for the hidden costs of renting when forming your complete budget for your Boston move. Take a closer look at some of the hidden apartment expenses if you’re wondering how much apartment rent you can afford. Some of the everyday hidden apartment expenses include:

Your specific financial circumstance will also play a factor in determining how much rent you can afford. Additional financial needs, including medical expenses, student debt repayment, etc., may impact your budget drastically, proving that the 30% rule might not quite fit your budget. If this is the case, you’ll have to adjust your budget accordingly.** **

You can also utilize other helpful tools, such as the Rent Calculator, to determine how much you can afford to pay, including additional expenses. This tool will help you better understand what type of rental budget you are working with for your move to Boston. Best of all, this beneficial tool has been put together with renters like you in mind.

Set Your Apartment Priorities

Boston boasts a variety of housing options, from historic apartment buildings and homes to brand new luxury apartment condos. Figuring out your priorities regarding specific amenities will help you begin narrowing your search once you’ve established your rental budget.

Amenities

When deciding what amenities to look for, start by brainstorming a list of needs and wants for your new Boston apartment. For example, you may want to look out for things like proximity to public transportation, bike storage, or covered parking, depending on your preferred transportation methods.** **

To help narrow down your options and find your perfect apartment, identify your needs versus wants. To stay within your budget, you might have to compromise on some items, ideally your wants and not needs.

Boston Location/Neighborhood

Ultimately, finding the best neighborhood in Boston for your apartment comes down to personal preference. In addition to the overall vibe of the community, consider other factors like convenience and walkability.

For example, if you’re looking for more space for a pet or generally quieter evenings, look for apartments outside the electric downtown Boston area. The Charleston neighborhood might be an excellent one for you to consider.

Alternatively, those seeking out a livelier neighborhood with nightlife and excitement to make the most of their leisure time might consider downtown or downtown-adjacent neighborhoods. The South End Boston neighborhood is sure to bring everything you’re hoping for and more if this sounds like you.

To determine which area will be the best fit for you before signing your next lease in your ideal Boston neighborhood, measure your desire for accessibility to extracurriculars, including what types.

Consider Your Commute Time

In addition to finding an apartment in your ideal neighborhood, your next apartment in Boston should also factor in your commute time.

Boston's walk score is 83, making it the third most walkable large city in the country! In addition to this impressive walk score, Boston is highly bikeable and offers proper public transportation. This information is good because it is possible to find a great Boston apartment within walking or biking distance to work.

Public Transportation in Boston

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) is Boston's major public transport operator. The MBTA boasts reliability scores in some of the highest percentiles in the country. Transporting nearly 568,000 trips on an average workday, the MBTA includes:

  • The RIDE
  • Ferry
  • Commuter rail
  • Bus
  • Subway

Thankfully, Boston’s public transportation is pretty reliable, convenient, and inexpensive. It can even be your primary mode of transportation, with so many different options readily available. For those living and working in downtown adjacent areas, you may even be able to opt out of having a vehicle of your own entirely.

Prepare for Apartment Tours

Before signing a lease for your new Boston apartment, you’ll want to take part in an apartment tour. When it's time to tour your prospective apartment, don’t forget to bring documentation, including ID, references, and your application fee. Ask about the payment preference ahead of time since property managers may accept cash, credit card, or check for the application fee.

Find out how the application process works before going on your apartment tour. You’ll have a better idea of what to expect and know how to prepare yourself this way.

Never feel rushed during your tour and remember to enjoy yourself. Take your time and ensure all the amenities in the listing are functioning correctly. Additional questions you may have about the property that comes up when reviewing the listing can be jotted down and brought with you. Crucial questions about the apartment should include things like painting, pets, and other building rules.

Check out our list of 20 questions to ask when renting an apartment to get a better idea of what you should be asking the property manager during your apartment tour.

Applying for Your Boston Apartment

Once you’ve completed your apartment tour and have found the Boston unit that checks all the boxes, it's time to submit your application.

The application process should come relatively easy, considering you already have the necessary materials gathered from your tour. But, in addition to those materials, other things such as rental references may be required for your application.

For rental references, most landlords will want to see previous landlords listed. However, it shouldn’t be an issue if you don’t have any previous rental history. Be sure to clarify ahead of time so you can get your contacts in order since property managers may also accept personal references in some instances.

Either way, make sure you reach out to your rental references ahead of time so that they can anticipate the call. Speed up the application process by giving them a heads-up and allowing them to respond more quickly on your behalf.

Protect Yourself from Rental Scams

According to a rental fraud report by Apartment List, 34.1% of renters in Boston have encountered an apartment listing they suspected was fraudulent. Unfortunately, 7.0% of these Boston renters have lost money from one rental scam. Follow these tips for avoiding rental scams to stay on the safe side and keep yourself protected by ensuring you are always cautious.

Using Apartment List to Find Your Boston Apartment

While it may be stressful, don’t forget to enjoy the apartment hunting process. On behalf of us here at Apartment List, congratulations on starting your search for a beautiful new apartment and life in Boston!

Here’s how it works: We’ll kick things off by having you first answer a few simple questions. Based on your specified criteria from your responses, we’ll be able to match you to apartments. We’ll then mix and match your personalized results to make it easy for you to discover places with the perfect combination of location amenities and price.

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EMILY KHO
Emily is a professionally trained writer who covers a wide range of topics but specializes in business and hospitality content. With over a decade of professional writing experience in the hospitality industry, Emily comes from a strong background in the field backed with a BS from the world-renowned William F. Read More
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Cost of Living in Boston, MA 2022
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Cost of Living in Boston, MA 2022
10 Best Neighborhoods in Boston, MA
Average Rent in Boston & Rent Price Trends
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