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Where to Start

Before you begin your search, you should establish a monthly budget that accounts for living expenses, housing costs, and any other regular expenses such as a cell phone bill, memberships, clothes, and medical expenses. Once you come up with a reasonable budget for housing, aim to stay within that figure. Secondarily, you should decide on priorities in term of size, location and other personal considerations, such as owning pets.

Rents vary considerably by neighborhood, the state of the economy, the Boston real estate market, and the size of the renting population from year to year. The prices listed here are wide ranging and are meant only to help estimate a budget.

Studio/Efficiency $1000-$1600 per month
One bedroom $1400-$2000 per month
Two bedroom $2000-3000 per month
Three bedroom $2600-4000 per month

Be sure to check for the "hidden" costs of renting an apartment, room, or house, such as those mentioned below. Check your lease for an escalator clause that would allow the landlord to raise the rent because of increases in taxes or utilities. Before signing the lease, you should discuss these with the landlord or present tenant to determine the actual cost of renting.

Utilities

Many landlords include some or all utilities in the rent. Depending on what is or is not included in your rent, your monthly costs could vary considerably. If previous utility statements are available, you will have a good idea of what to expect. For contact information on companies that provide utilities in the Greater Boston area, follow the "Local Utility Providers" link.

Heat

Some apartments have heat included in the rent.  This typically means that the temperature is set for the whole building by the landlord and there are not individual thermostats in each apartment.  Other apartments do not include the cost of heat in the monthly rent, but allow for individual control of the thermostat.  This should be taken into consideration when considering your monthly budget, especially during the winter. Electric heat can be more expensive than gas or oil. Ask to see past heating bills, and check to see if the apartment is well insulated. Check windows to see if they are equipped with screens and storm windows. Check that the walls and the ceiling have adequate insulation.

Water

Most often the landlord pays for city/town water. If you are uncertain about who pays for the water, check with the landlord.

Parking

Many landlords charge an additional fee, usually monthly or yearly, for off-street parking arrangements. Parking can cost up to $300 per month per spot. It is not uncommon to find tandem parking spots which may rent for $50-100/month cheaper than a single parking spot in the same neighborhood.  Tandem spots require that you share an extended space (large enough for two vehicles to park one behind the other).  It is important that you exchange contact information with the person you are sharing a space with and discuss a plan for ensuring that each of you is able to move your car when needed. If your landlord has no available parking spaces, s/he may know of someone who will lease one to you.

A parking space is a precious commodity in Boston, and parking regulations are strictly enforced. Many neighborhoods provide permit stickers to residents that enable you to park within that neighborhood's restricted area. This does not, however, guarantee you a spot. Pay attention to towing signs, street-cleaning restrictions, parking meters, permit requirements, and time limitations.


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