codyoneill wrote:I've been doing a lot of research w/r/t housing the last few days.
Cambridge is expensive!
My big anxiety (and I'm sure this is shared) is debt. Every dollar spent on housing at HLS is two dollars I'll be paying back after school (fuzzy math, but a close enough approximation to easily keep in mind at all times).
Sorry I can't provide the link, but somewhere on the Harvard housing website they list the percentage of HLS students in each (general) neighborhood of the city.
A few important things about Boston:
1) It is much smaller than you likely expect. It is more or less 1/10 the size of New York City and (I think) 1/3 the size of Philadelphia.
2) Depending on where you're coming from, public transit is less robust than you might expect. Some apartments are a 7 minute drive or 20 minute bike ride from HLS, but (because the T only extends in so many directions and bus routes are madness) it could be 45 minutes to an hour on public transit.
3) Because of 1) and 2), there are often parts of the city that seem more remote but are actually more accessible to HLS (and vice versa). For example, a trip from Brighton to HLS seems farther than a trip from adjacent Somerville to HLS, but (thanks to the 86 bus) a public transit trip from parts of Brighton to HLS might be half the length of a public transit trip from parts of Somerville.
So if you're looking for (cheaper) apartments outside of Cambridge, pay close attention to the red line T and also be sure to check googlemap directions for walking/biking/public transit. Buses in Boston also have bike racks on the front so you can make combo bike ride / bus trips.
I've been exploring the listings on craigslist, and I've not been too happy/impressed. I will be moving to Boston with my wife, so we're looking to get a dog friendly one bedroom, ideally in the ballpark of $1500 a month, within reasonable walking distance (1/2 hour) to HLS. Seems impossible, but I imagine the December/January housing listings are neither the most robust nor the most accurate.
One thing to note for those with significant others: a car might be necessary. My wife and I lived in Boston briefly and we both needed a car at times for different jobs. There are a lot of job listings in Waltham or other places just outside the city that aren't accessible via public transit. It's generally expected that working professionals in the city have a car. I have a number of friends who live in Boston and, aside from students, they all have cars. Public transit is nice perk for Boston, but it seems to be sufficient only if you're within a university bubble.
I currently live in Boston so I can give a bit of insight.
First, Boston/Cambridge leases almost always run from Sept-Sept or June-June b/c there are so many students. If you're looking at a Sept-Sept lease, I wouldn't bother looking on craigslist/padmapper until June/July as there will be nothing available. However, when they do become available, the best apartments go extremely fast.
If you don't live in Boston, I suggest working with a broker. Almost all apartments will require a 1 month rent broker's fee, but without living in Boston, it will be very difficult to find a no-fee apartment. Plus, having a broker do the searching for you will remove a bit of the stress.
Apartments around Harvard Square will be VERY expensive- $1600+ for a 1BR, $2400+ for a 2BR.
The Red Line is actually extremely reliable, thus a lot of Harvard students actually live in Porter Square or Davis Square (near Tufts), where apartments are much much cheaper. You can probably find a 1BR in Davis 5-10 min from the train around $1100; 2BR are even cheaper per room. Both areas are very student-dense, but very young-professional friendly.
I'd avoid Brighton- while its cheap, you'll be stuck on the B train of the Green line- which is a nightmare. That area is also very student-dense, but in a trashy kind of way. The housing options are very run-down and it will be constantly loud.
Finally, if you don't have a significant other working outside the city, I highly recommend NOT getting a car. Parking is a pain. Renting a spot will likely cost you $500-$700 a month. If you plan on parking in the street, you'll have to move your car regularly to avoid being towed for street cleanings.
Hope this helps.