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Housing in Boston

Whether you are relocating from across the country or just across town, these resources will help you secure housing ahead of service.

City Year provides the following housing and roommate information as a resource for AmeriCorps members as a courtesy. However, we do not assume responsibility for any issues that may occur with housing and roommate situations, nor can we advise you legally on housing matters.

Find housing before you start service

You will be required to be living within the City of Boston for the first day of service to allow you to focus on building relationships with your teammates, immerse yourself in training, and adjust to your new neighborhood before the school year begins.

When to start looking

The Boston housing market can be a tricky place. Generally, apartment leases begin on the first of the month. Generally, leases that begin around July and August will be posted on websites such as Zillow and Truila around April. Your Service Year Adviser and the Boston staff are all here to support you in your search for housing, supporting you in your search for housing.

Deciding where to live

There are 23 different neighborhoods in the City of Boston to choose from when deciding where to live! However, to reduce your commute time as much as possible, we recommend the following neighborhoods based on the locations of our partner schools:

  • Dorchester—the biggest and most diverse neighborhood in Boston
  • Jamaica Plain—surrounded by parks and adjacent to Roslindale, JP has great restaurants and easy subway access
  • Roslindale—next to the Arnold Arboretum and other gardens with a main street full of shops and dining options; close to commuter rail and subway
  • Roxbury—the heart of Black culture in the city; easy access to public transportation
  • Charlestown—an historical neighborhood with views of Boston Harbor and the Mystic River

Neighborhoods to avoid: Allston and Brighton. These areas are appealing because they often offer cheaper rent costs, but unless you are serving in one of our schools located in Brighton, you would be looking at a longer commute (sometimes one and a half hours to two hours long).

Finding roommates

Our AmeriCorps members generally live together as roommates. We use the confirmed AmeriCorps member Facebook group as a means of connecting you to each other and assisting you with finding roommates. While we encourage you all to connect with each other, please reach out to your Service Year Adviser if you are having difficulty finding roommates.

Most housing situations consist of four roommates, but this varies depending on individual preferences, circumstances and apartment opportunities.

Budgeting for housing

Members find housing through online posting sites such as Zillow and Trulia, word of mouth, and on the City Year Facebook group you were invited to. Your Service Year Adviser will share apartment listings they’ve found that meet the stipend criteria, are within a reasonable distance to your school placement and along public transportation. Your Service Year Adviser will also share listings and contact information for outgoing AmeriCorps members wishing to pass on their apartments. AmeriCorps members are also expected to conduct their own searches but are welcome to reach out to their Service Year Adviser for advice if they are not sure about the listings. Postings should outline who to contact to learn more about the property, costs, and lease terms.

When renting an apartment, ask about the following fees as they frequently apply.

  • Broker’s fee – this is very much a Boston reality. Typically, this is one month’s rent or a percentage or the annual lease. Sometimes realtors will waive this fee if you mention you are doing a service year (we’ve seen it happen!!) but don’t count on it.
  • Security deposit – typically one month’s rent, returned at the end of the lease if the property’s condition is maintained
  • First month’s rent – typically due upon signing of the lease agreement
  • Last month’s rent – may be requested upon signing of the lease agreement

Some utilities are included in the price of rent, so be sure to ask your landlord. When viewing apartments, most landlords or current tenants will gladly tell you the average price of utilities, so don’t be afraid to ask. It is also helpful to ask what utilities the house uses, such as gas or electric heat. Some units and buildings include laundry, for free or a cost, while others are located near laundromats.

Stipend & benefits

Learn more about your bi-weekly stipend and the various benefits – both during and after service.

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