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What You Need to Know Before Signing a Lease for Your Boston Apartment

6 minute read

Boston is a vibrant city rich in culture and history, offering its residents an unmatched quality of life. Many people want to live here for professional as well as personal reasons, creating an intense demand for Boston apartments for rent. If you are moving to Boston, one of the most important decisions you will make is choosing the apartment that is right for you. You might have heard from friends and family who know the city that the process of renting an apartment in Boston can be overwhelming. It’s true that unlike in other cities, you need to look months in advance and be more decisive. However, with the right guidance and preparation, we’re confident you’ll find the perfect home.

Here are some important things you should consider before signing a lease for your Boston apartment.

Look Up the Neighborhoods

Before you start apartment hunting, you should get a good idea of what different neighborhoods in Boston are like. Boston offers a wide selection of neighborhoods, with some offering more of the city’s famous New-England charm, while others provide residents with a more modern feel. You might also need to live in specific neighborhoods to be close to work or school. Having a quick look online of Boston’s different neighborhoods can give you an idea of the cost of living, transportation options, and help answer any other questions you have about living in different parts of Boston.

At Boston Pads, we provide everyone with access to our real- time rental data. This is useful to renters as you can see which neighborhoods are in your budget, how they compare in terms of demand/ availability, and even the average days on market for Boston apartments in different neighborhoods.

Pinpoint Your Budget

Boston is known for being one of the country’s most expensive cities because of the high quality of life it offers residents. So, you should make sure that your budget aligns with what you will likely have to pay for an apartment. You should determine whether your income and spending are compatible with what the city offers; consider, for instance, whether you’ll need a car or rely on public transport, your lifestyle, and whether you want to share an apartment or live on your own. All of these factors will largely determine your budget. Our Boston Pads rent calculator can help you determine your budget, and whether you can afford a specific apartment.

You’ll also want to account for the full list of costs when renting a Boston apartment. Remember, the costs aren’t limited to the agreed rental cost in your lease. You should plan to pay the equivalent of two months of rent (first and last month of your contract), a security deposit to the landlord (often the value of one month’s rent), and brokerage fees (also equivalent to one month’s rent). You might also need movers, or need to rent a moving truck, along with moving equipment. So, make sure that you account for all of these costs when you’re planning your move.

Read Your Lease Agreement Carefully

Before you sign that lease, make sure you read and fully understand the terms of the agreement. A lease is a binding contract between you and your landlord, and outlines what your responsibilities are, as a tenant, to make sure the apartment is well taken care of. Don’t hesitate to ask questions to your potential landlord or leasing agent if you need further clarification on the terms. Be on the look-out for specific items in your lease, such as the: duration of the lease, security deposit requirements, pet policies, and subleasing clauses.

Check the Condition of the Apartment

It’s crucial that you visit the apartment before signing the lease. Though the pictures you find online will give you a good idea of the space, they might not allow you to notice any damage or issues that an on-site visit allows. If you do spot any issues (cracks in the wall, leaks, mold…etc.), make sure to bring them up with your landlord before signing your lease. Sometimes, landlords do not regularly visit their apartments due to them being occupied, so they might simply be unaware of minor issues they would be happy to fix. Making them aware of problems you’ve identified in the apartment will also help establish a good line of communication with your landlord, making your tenancy a lot easier. Remember, having a good relationship with your landlord is key.

Renters Insurance

Renters insurance is a great idea if you want to have peace of mind, knowing that your belongings and any damages to the apartment are covered. There are a variety of insurance policies that can be tailored to your specific requirements, so make sure to have a look at your options, and pick the one that is right for you. Some landlords may even require that you have renter’s insurance covering a specific amount, so make sure you check the lease for any renter’s insurance clauses.

Look for Amenities

You’ll know by now that Boston’s architecture is famous for that rustic, New-England charm, but what about the inside of those buildings? You may be more interested in apartments with state-of-the-art and updated amenities, or maybe you don’t mind living with and using older equipment. Make sure you do your research and ask about the amenities of your apartment and the building. You’ll find that buildings in Boston offer tenants a range of amenities, from fitness centers and rooftop lounges to laundry facilities and concierge services. We suggest you list your priorities and conduct your apartment search with those filters so that you’re only visiting apartments that fit your needs.

Boston Pads allows you to filter your Boston apartment search by amenities, so you only see apartments that meet exactly what you’re looking for!

Get to Know Your Public Transit and Parking Rules

You can get around the city in a lot of ways, but you might need to get to school or work at certain times, so knowing the best ways around the city is key. This will also play a role in the neighborhoods you’re looking at. Remember, as we say in real estate: location, location, location. This is especially true when you’re deciding between taking certain bus or train routes. Thankfully, Boston has great public transport infrastructure, so you’ll have plenty of options. Our advice: look for apartments that are closest to major transport hubs or with plenty of bus/train connections.

On the other hand, having a car in Boston can be really useful, so long as you have the right set-up to park it. Parking in the city, however, can be quite challenging and costly. Daily parking spots are limited, and fees are quite high. Some landlords offer a parking spot with the property, while others will allow you to rent a spot they own near the property, but this is typically for units farther away from T stops.


Boston Pads is dedicated to helping you find your ideal Boston apartment, providing support at every stage of the process. Working with one of our partner agents will ensure you don’t overlook any key items during your search. With so much to consider during a move, let us help you. Whether you’re relocating to Boston or simply looking to upgrade your space, Boston Pads is at your service with a broad range of solutions. We are committed to making your move seamless, effortless, and devoid of any stress; find a place you love, guaranteed.

Paul Chang

Paul Chang

Published May 11, 2023

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.

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