Most international students arrive in Boston without permanent housing arrangements. You may need to stay in a hotel or hostel for a few nights while you secure an apartment. Information about finding housing in the Boston area is available on the Housing page of the New Student Community and in The Guide for GSLIS Students.
Before you begin searching, you may want to familiarize yourself with some basic information about renting apartments in the U.S.:
You can hire a real estate agent to take you to apartments or you can work directly with landlords. Realtors may specialize in one area of the city, so if you want to look at apartments in different neighborhoods, you may need to work with multiple realtors. You only have to pay the realtor fee if you actually rent an apartment through a realtor. The fee is usually equivalent to one month's rent.
Renting an apartment on your own is cheaper but often more time consuming. You have to research apartments on-line and in the newspaper and make appointments to visit each apartment that interests you. Depending on your financial situation and time frame, it may be worth the realtor fee to get into permanent housing faster.
Landlords typically require first and last month's rent as well as a security deposit (equivalent to one month's rent, refundable upon move-out if the apartment is in good condition). For example, if you're renting an apartment for $1,000 a month, you may need to pay $3,000 up front, not including any realtor fees.
Advertised rents do not always include utility fees. Read carefully to determine if heat, hot water, and electricity are included. If you are responsible to pay for them, you may have to contact the utility companies directly to set up billing. Your landlord should have the information about whom to call.
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