Skip to content

Home Boston Real Estate Insights Renters

5 Boston Apartment-Hunting Truths You Need To Know

7 minute read
Boston apartments

Go About The Hunt Strategically: When hunting for a Greater Boston apartment, there are many factors to consider. Each neighborhood often has its own peak leasing cycle and prices can be very nuanced throughout the year. There are real-time vacancy and availability rates as well as days on market to consider. Not all apartments are created equal or priced properly. If you stick to a well-disciplined strategy, you will most likely obtain an apartment in Boston that your friends are jealous of! The following are a few tips to help you plan out the hunt strategically, getting the most value for your money.

Boston Apartment hunting three women

1. Shop Around

Do not go with the first Boston apartment you see. This is a common “newbie” mistake. You will probably want to watch a copious amount of videos and look at endless pictures on trusted real estate portals with only licensed local agents that do not allow any bait-and-switch activities. If you try to book an appointment and the agent says “That just got rented but I have another one – run!” If you are looking on many national real estate portals they will often have a ton of outdated or strange listings that don’t match what you see on Google. In other words, if you see seventeen listings for a small three-family property; something inside you should tell you to turn up the caution flag. How could there be seventeen apartments in a three-family family? Well, the truth is that it is not possible so you will often see some unethical agents posting a ton of random and fake apartments. Some national websites allow you to report the bad actors but it might be easier to check out trusted local portals.

Boston Pads Options

More is Better.

The bottom line is that you should look at a minimum of three apartments and more is even better. The key is your sequencing and taking the process seriously in a shorter burst of time. Try to put a lot of time into your search quickly and get it done within two weeks so you understand the apartment leasing marketplace. The Greater Boston apartment scene is super competitive and pads get rented out from under you very quickly. Ideally look at every apartment the same day so everything is fresh in your mind and you can make the best decision – otherwise you will nearly always be chasing the second best apartment. Chances are if you hesitate you will miss your first choice. Fun fact, the best apartments always rent the quickest and if your gut is telling you it is the best one it is probably right.

Here is the problem, if you think it is the best one; so does everyone else at the same time. Do not make looking for an apartment a casual affair where you only go see one apartment per month. You will fail at understanding which apartments are the best deals. Go on at least two or three apartment showings within a two week period. An underpriced or incredible apartment in Boston rents within 7 days or less. The real time average for an apartment on the market in Boston is 25 days. So if you see an great apartment that has been on the market for over two weeks chances are you are on borrowed time and you might want to pull the trigger.

Take Notes!

However, don’t be pressured by those who are showing the unit. Take a copious amount of notes on all properties, if they are vacant perhaps take pictures so you can remember everything. Check it out, check others out and start to weigh your options, and make the best choice accordingly. Signing a bad lease to save you time will end up costing you money in the long run. But remember nearly 70% of all apartments have 9/1 move in dates in Greater Boston; so as you get into July your options begin to dwindle rapidly. You don’t want to become too much of a gambler if time is not on your side. August can often times have few good apartments left to grab; especially in highly sought after areas. When you get into August, you have to make very quick and solid decisions. Yes prices will drop on the remaining units; but it might not be the best quality. You have to look at he big picture. Most people taking their housing seriously and living in a bad place for a year can be super frustrating.

Boston neighborhood

2. Choose A Neighborhood That Fits You

Probably most important thing you can do is figure out where you will be commuting to most frequently coupled with your preferences for consistent use of goods and services. The costs of energy has sparked inflation and gas isn’t cheap anymore. Even uber prices have seemed higher lately. You also want to avoid sitting in traffic all day as that can take years off your life due to stress. You also want to consider thinking strongly about the things you like to do on the regular and how far they will be from your new apartment. Ask yourself, what do you like to do the most? What are the commute times associated with these activities. Time is money. You can lose a good portion of your life in time lost commuting if you are not in the right place from the jump. Especially if you’re in a larger city, you can find an apartment right in the center of all the things you love.

Figure out what your best fit is in terms of local community, and look for units that are affordable, and near these areas. What you pay in increased rent is offset by what you save in time and travel costs, as well as vehicle wear-and-tear. Traffic can be a resource killer. It costs you approximately 72 cents per mile.

If you’re driving thirty miles a day, that’s $21.60 per day, or an average of $7,884 a year. Now that’s only 10,950 miles. Most people average around 15k miles a year, for a total cost of $10,800+. If you can live closer to your work, and can cut down driving substantially, then you can offset the cost of a higher rent.

Gas stove

3. Gas, Or Electric?

Your climate will be a big determiner when it comes to gas or electric power. Generally, gas power is cheaper than electric solutions unless you’re in a position where you must use heating or cooling continuously. Know your climate, and what kind of appliances you’ll be using throughout your stay at an apartment. You want to reduce the cost of your utility bill. You may also want to look into room sharing apartments in Boston where all the utilities are included. That can certainly save you time each month instead of having to go over bills with your roommates and breaking up costs.

leasing manager

4. Living Arrangements Through Management Agreements

Sometimes you’re able to find living arrangements which are mingled with management duties. Different states have different laws so it is important that you understand your options. If you can work with those who run your apartment complex in some kind of discount or barter capacity, for relatively little work, you can off-set your rent, allowing you to save more money over time. Talk to your landlord and see what kind of duties they may need assistance with. At the very least, you may be able to discount your rent.

Boston Residential Home

5. The Balanced Approach

You might want to have a balanced approach to your apartment rental. The cheapest solution in the worst part of town could cost you collaterally. A cheap solution outside of town will also cost you in terms of travel. Too much luxury costs you, too little luxury costs you. The best solution can often be in the middle. You also want to take into account parking options. If you are the type of person that likes to have a lot of your friends stop by then it might be important that you live on a street with free street parking. A lot of the city of Boston is now covered with resident parking. Parking restrictions can often cause your friends to never come visit you if it takes them longer to find a parking space (driving around the blocks twenty times) than it does the actually commute to your apartment from their house.

Finding Your Best Apartment

You need to look at multiple apartments, find a neighborhood that matches your goals and determine what works best for your particular situation. You are going to need to be serious about your hunt. You have a lot to think about. It never hurts to work with a licensed real estate agent that might be a great sounding board to bounce ideas off in quest for the best apartment. If you would like to work with some of the best apartment leasing agents in the state of Massachusetts please feel free to contact us!

Paul Chang

Paul Chang

Published June 5, 2024

Paul is the leasing manager for Boardwalk Properties- Mission Hill, with a passion for making agents reach their full potential. Prior to becoming a leasing manager, he was a top closer for the Boardwalk properties team. He loves helping clients with all their real estate needs, from leasing to investment sales.