March 13, 2021

Living Off-Campus in Boston: The Top Pros and Cons

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Home to some of the top colleges in the country, Boston is one of the best cities for young adults to call home. This youthful and dynamic city provides students with the perfect balance of premium academics and entertainment.

For many students, college is the first time that they are going to be living on their own. This can be an exciting but scary time, filled with many new opportunities and challenges. Picking whether to live on or off-campus, does not have to be one of those challenges!

Here are the top pros and cons of living off-campus in Boston, as well as some tips and tricks on how to lessen the burden of the potential cons.

Pros of living off-campus in Boston

Cheaper than dorms

Unlike the fixed and relatively high cost of a dorm, cheaper rental apartments can be found all over Boston! Not only is the base rent generally more expensive but many dorms also include a mandatory meal plan. These meal plans, although convenient, tend to be pricey.

Living in a lower-cost apartment, shopping for your groceries and cooking simple meals at home can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year. Especially if you live with roommates, splitting rent, utilities, internet and TV, and possibly even grocery bills can help tremendously to lower your individual expenses and make your stay in Boston more affordable.

Check out the many apartments listed on Live Realty Boston, you are sure to find something budget-friendly.

Full-year leases available

For students who do not wish to go back home during the summer, or those staying for summer classes, internships, and job opportunities in Boston, a year-long rent can be helpful.

Most dorms only offer student housing until the end of the semester, after which services are either not offered, or are offered for an additional (usually high) cost. Unlike dorms, living in your own apartment allows you year-round access to your place for the same monthly price.

If you are not staying in Boston for the summer, consider subleasing your apartment for a few months to help cover your rent.

More options for your perfect place

Finding an off-campus apartment can be a very exciting process as you can explore the real estate of the city. With so many different locations, layouts, and functionalities, each apartment you visit will be unique and you will be able to find your perfect fit.

Living off-campus also means you get to furnish and decorate your apartment as you wish! This will add character and your unique touch to your new place. Always check your lease agreement before painting and making holes in walls, as restrictions may apply.

Looking for a separate space for a small home gym, a study den, or in-unit washer and dryer? Live Realty Boston can help you find the space of your dreams.

“Real-world” experience

Moving off to college is most young adult’s first “real-world” experience. Living on your own, paying your own bills, and being in charge of your own schedule and appointments can make you finally feel like a real adult.

It is an exciting time and a time for true self-exploration. Being free from your parents control means you have the space and time to discover more about yourself, your likes and dislikes and your dreams.

Living in your off-campus apartment can help you hone your cooking and cleaning skills, learn how to budget, and prepare you for life after college. It is also great for establishing your rental history, making it easier to rent an apartment after you graduate.

Private bathroom

One of the best things about living off-campus is having access to your own bathroom. This means doing your business in private, and no longer having to suffer due to other people’s mess. This can be a huge deciding factor for many students who struggled with shared bathrooms in their first year and decide to move off-campus in their second or third year.

A private bathroom, just as a private kitchen, also means more cleaning for you to do. These frequently used spaces generally get dirty faster than the rest of your apartment so they will require care.

Cons of living off-campus in Boston

Dealing with landlords

As a student, you already have enough to deal with, and stress from a bad landlord is not something you want to add to your plate! While on-campus housing is typically well managed and the process is facilitated by your school, dealing with landlords can be a hassle.

However, there are ways to avoid a bad landlord! A landlord with great customer service skills from the beginning of the house-hunting process is likely to be helpful and easy to deal with after signing the lease.

Always check out your potential landlord’s online reviews. Additionally, consider how receptive and helpful your future landlord has been during the process. If they have been hard to contact, unaccommodating or unpleasant to work with, you may want to consider renting someplace else. Chances are, after you sign the lease, their customer service will not improve, and getting them to come repair issues around the apartment can be challenging.

More bills to pay

Having extra bill payments to keep track of every month can be a headache. Unlike most on-campus residences that include your internet, utility, and water bills in your rent price, living in your own apartment will mean that you will have to find an internet provider and pay for all your bills separately.

When looking for an internet and TV provider, consider reaching out to your cell phone provider to see if they have packages they can offer you at a discounted price. As with all things, shop around and negotiate as prices between providers can vary greatly!

If you struggle with remembering to pay bills on time, consider setting up automatic payments from your account which can help you save time and headaches.

Living alone can feel isolating

Depending on whether you chose to live with roommates or not, and how many roommates you live with, living off-campus can feel much more isolating. In student dorms the common rooms, cafeterias, and overall setup allow you to be near many other students.

Living alone in your apartment means you won’t be able to pop by the study room to get homework help or drop by to the room next door for your last class notes. Living off-campus, you may be in a building with older working professionals or families with children, which can be quite a different feel from the party atmosphere of a student residence.

However, for young adults seeking independence, a quieter place to study, and more privacy, an off-campus apartment is perfect. You always have the option of inviting your friends over and organizing events within the comfort of your own home.

Living farther from campus

Chances are, your off-campus apartment will be farther from campus than the dorms. This can be a benefit to some, who are looking to explore new areas of the city, and a con to those wanting to have a small commute to class.

Transportation costs may increase if you do decide to move off-campus, although affordable options such as public transport and biking are great alternatives to buying a car or taking ubers. However, the distance from campus also generally means cheaper rent, so consider how the savings from cheaper rent balance with increased transportation costs.

There are many great off-campus options at varying distances from each of Boston’s colleges. Depending on your preferences, you will be able to find what you are looking for with Live Realty Boston.

Upfront fees and deposits

Unlike most dorms, your landlord will likely require you to pay a security deposit, typically about one month of rent. This deposit will get returned to you at the end of your lease if nothing is damaged. Oftentimes, however, apartments incur more than just regular wear and tear damage and so the security deposit is not returned.

Other upfront fees you may not get back include broker fees. If you used a brokerage to help you find and secure an apartment, and negotiate with your landlord, they will likely charge about a month’s rent for their services.

Picking the right choice for you

Like everything in life, there are both pros and cons to living off-campus. But remember, most of the cons listed are general cons of renting an apartment. Chances are, you will have to deal with renting at some point in your life, so whether you face them now or later is up to you.

Now that you’ve gone through our list of pros and cons, sit down and make your own list of off-campus living pros and cons. Consider how willing you are to undertake some of the challenges listed, and how beneficial the pros are to you. Everyone is different, so make sure you consider the right choice for you.

Although Boston is an expensive city, affordable housing options can still be found, as long as you know where to look. At Live Realty Boston, we can connect you with the right apartment and make your off-campus move a reality!


Doug Andrade

Posted on March 13, 2021

With over 5 years of experience in the local real estate market, Doug has extensive experience with assisting International students and professionals relocating to the area for school or work. He prides himself on honesty and fair dealing.


Off-Campus Housing


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