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When To Look At Apartments in Boston For Rent

8 minute read
Boston apartments for rent

Are you looking to find the best selection of apartments in Boston? You’re not alone.

Massachusetts is leading the Northeast in population growth. Since the 2010 census, Suffolk County’s population has grown by 6.3 percent. Boston, which is in Suffolk County, has an extremely competitive rental market largely due to the demand caused by an increasing population outpacing housing supply growth.

Finding an apartment in the Greater Boston Area doesn’t have to be a traumatic endeavor. By being strategic in your search, you can find the accommodations you desire. The key is to having a well thought out plan in advance and then being flexible in the approach to getting the job done.

Timing is everything.

There are many different strategies you should use when looking for apartments in Boston. One of the best things you can do, however, is to start your search at the right time. Timing is one of the most important factors– especially when it comes to finding your perfect apartment.

It’s easy to look at apartments in Boston for rent all year long. What a lot of people do not realize is that they can often pick up a great apartment at a bargain price if they use market timing to their advantage. Read on to find out what the ideal time is to find your dream home.

Boston Colleges- Simmons University


It’s no secret that Boston is a great city. But there’s more to the city than famous attractions like Fenway Park, Harvard Square, and Freedom Trail.

Apartment hunters should be aware that Boston is home to 35 universities, colleges, and community colleges. There are also a litany of various specialized nascent schools and trade profession courses that also bring people from all over the world to study here in Boston. In total, there are over 250,000 students that attend these institutions every year. The college and learning culture is an integral part of Boston’s community. While there’s no denying that the impact higher learning has had on Boston, it’s also created an increased burden on rental units and a dominant leasing cycle.

Roughly sixty percent of Boston’s population lives in rental units.

Only 83 building permits have been issued for new construction by the BPDA, down from 94 issued last year. Universities have historically added more enrollment over the years and that creates a need for additional housing. Overall this is a good thing because it allows for more money to be spread out into the community and allows for a large diversity of jobs across a wide range of industries. By Colleges increasing enrollment it creates all types of renovation and construction jobs for the small mom and pop landlords and developers so it keeps money flowing locally. The drawback is that our zoning code doesn’t allow for us to build enough to keep up with the demand.

The population growth and large college demographic has also made apartment hunting a burden for locals. The rental cycle itself is heavily weighted toward the September 1st to August 31st. This is not by accident but it has been created that way through many decades of leases landing on that specific date for tenant preference purposes.

Couple searching for apartments


Apartment hunting in Boston might seem intimidating. But there are still plenty of apartments in Boston for rent. You just need to know when to search. It is also important to know how to search. Not all apartment hunting plans are created equal.

Boston’s busy moving season aligns with the college calendar – most people intuitively know and understand this concept. The busiest times most people do their apartment hunting is between April and September. This is an often ideal apartment searching time because the weather is better than in the wintertime.

The early summer is often when many apartments in Boston become available for rent- both luxury apartments in Boston and non- luxury apartments. Luxury buildings seem to have a greater variance in the September leasing cycle so you can always count on some form of inventory. The spring season is marked by large turnover numbers leading up to September 1st, meaning there are more apartment availabilities and listings for you to search. So if you want to go see the most apartments so you feel the greatest level of confidence – you might want to pick April as your overall time to look. However you do want to make sure when the most apartments come out if you are looking in a specific neighborhood as that can vary tremendously.

Though September is an ideal time to move, there are a few downsides to conducting your search much earlier in the year.

You may run into higher moving rates and a surge in competition during the peak season. You will see more but so will other people. So you might will probably want to jump on things quicker, all things being equal.

To avoid this, try to conduct your search as early in the year as possible. Perhaps you have already seen four to six units so you have a good feel on the inventory and are ready to pounce when that perfect apartment shows up.

Students often operate on an entirely different leasing renewal notification date.

Many students and young professionals will move in September, but their landlords will contact them earlier to find out if they are staying or going. Students tend to move around a lot more in housing than professionals. When landlords or property managers are trying to manage out their leasing plans; they like to spread them out so they are not overwhelmed. No one likes to work ninety hours per week for three months then down to twenty hours per week. So if a landlord can stagger their portfolio notification renewal dates it makes it easier on their life and time. Working with a top notch apartment leasing company that has a long storied history of understanding specific Boston neighborhood market cycles can make all the difference in the world for you acquisition of the best apartment.

Boston apartments in fall


Well, what if you are looking right now?   How do you optimize the best apartment seeking strategy? Many apartment hunters don’t have the luxury to wait until the middle of the summer to make their move. You can still find great luxury apartments in Boston for rent in the Fall; you just need to modify your thinking.  Most landlords dread a vacant apartment in September.  Landlords with vacant apartments missed the market.

At the same time, the apartment probably needed work.  If the apartment couldn’t be rented in the peak Summer season, the apartment needed some TLC.   Those apartments usually need a month or two of clean up and updating.  So there is a great chance right now that you can pick up a vacant, renovated, or updated unit at a far lower price.  Keep in mind that landlord or property manager is going to want to get back on the correct leasing cycle.  This could be the best time of the year to score a great apartment and have a lease that is almost one year in length.

Boston winter pond


The winter is a less coveted time for movers thanks to the blistering cold weather. However, the lack of moves can also open up some great rental deals around December and January. You might just find the deal you desire in the winter. You will probably end up getting a shorter lease than if you rented in the fall, but chances are it might be $50 to $200 cheaper per month than an off cycle fall lease. So if you are ok with a shorter lease to get the best deal that gets the landlord back on the right cycle; you might want to couch surf until winter.

Don’t let the cold scare you away. Just figure out a plan to win. You might also want to start looking at other neighborhoods earlier for the following year. Know that you rent is probably going to go up anyways because you picked up the apartment at such a great deal, but you can use this time to save and show the landlord what a great tenant you are.

Boston house in winter


Based on your preferences or requirements, you know what time of year to search for your apartment to rent. You are starting to do the mental gymnastics needed to devise a plan. Now what?

You need to start your search. The best time to look for an apartment is when you have committed to a plan of action. You have done your research. You’ve looked at winning formulas and rock solid real estate offices that will deliver you the most options to look at in the shortest period of time. Now, you should start conducting your search based on what real estate agents point out are the lease renewal notification dates in your specific area of interest. Make sure to question everything than agent tells you and go back to trusted data sources and see if their facts line up with what data is suggesting. The lead time to find apartments can vary by as much as one year! Only the best real estate offices will know when the best leasing cycles and deals are happening.

Boston Beacon Hill Residential Street


If you are not a student and don’t need to be next to a university – then don’t do it. Unless you want to pay more than for the roughly the same apartment just a little further away. Most people don’t like to pay more for no reason.

Hordes of students move into their new apartments in the beginning of September and out of their apartments at the start of June. Renters can expect huge surges in moving costs, massive crowds, and even shortages on moving trucks during these dates. If you don’t have to move during the peak leasing cycle and right next to a university- don’t do it. Wait. Figure out a plan that works for you.

We have the Most Boston Apartments for Rent!

Looking for an apartment in Boston doesn’t have to be a burden. You just need to be prepared.

Avoid surge times and start your searches early. By choosing the right time to move, you’ll be well on your way to finding the apartment of your dreams.

Are you looking for a specific type of apartment for rent in Boston? We can help. Boston Pads is the most trusted apartment rental platform in MA. Our vast network of licensed and professional local agents can help you strategize for your move and help you find the right apartment for you. Contact one of our agents today!

Andrew Pitsios

Andrew Pitsios

Published October 11, 2023

From the start of his career in real estate, Andrew has excelled at building client relationships and creating standards that set the bar high for fellow colleagues to follow. Focused on building and maintaining relationships in his career, he puts emphasis on the “little details” ensuring clients and landlords are happy to do business with him. Andrew continues to work meticulously with every client in order to make sure they move into an apartment of their dreams. He truly wants to make sure he helps as many people as he can. In his free time, he enjoys going up to the lake, spending time with friends/family, or walking his dog, Milton, along the Charles.

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