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Budget

If you have not developed a planned budget for your years at HLS, now is the time to do so. Understanding what you can afford for your housing will help you focus your apartment search. The greater Boston area is among the more expensive areas to live in the nation, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t opportunities to find cheaper housing. Where you live and how many roommates you have (if any) can have substantial impacts on your budget.

Find below the average cost that HLS students pay to live in for the following types of apartments (information based on the 2012 HLS Off Campus Housing Survey). Bear in mind that these numbers are the average prices, and the apartments you search will cover the full spectrum of rent prices.

 Apartment Type Average Total Apartment Cost Average Per Person Cost
Studio $1475 $1,275
One Bedroom Apartment $1,745 $1,280
Two Bedroom Efficiency $1,949 $1,043
Two Bedroom Apartment $2,171 $1,123
Three Bedroom Apartment $2,573 $900
Four Bedroom Apartment $3,156 $804
Five Bedroom Apartment $4,047 $818

Other Budget Considerations

  • It is important to ask what utilities are included in the price. You might see two apartments near one another; one of which is right at your budget limit and includes heat, hot water, and electricity, while the other is much cheaper but excludes them. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples and ask what is included in the rental price. Heat can be very expensive in the winter in Boston.
  • Make sure to consider the cost of cable television, telephone, and/or Internet service when planning for your monthly expenses.
  • While it is important to know what you can afford on a monthly basis, it is equally important to know what you can afford up-front.
    • It is typical for landlords to require first and last month’s rent along with an extra month’s rent for the security deposit. So, for a $1,500 per month one bedroom apartment, you might need to come up with $3,000-$4,500 in order to secure the apartment.
    • If you work with a realtor to find an apartment, there will likely be a broker’s fee as well, which is usually either half a month’s rent or a full month’s rent.
    • Make sure to factor in your moving costs as well as furniture costs when planning to live off campus.
  • Make sure to consider summer expenses into your long-term budget planning.Off campus apartments in Cambridge and Boston typically have year long leases. Most HLS students do not stay in the city during the summers. Although subletting your apartment is always an option, many students end up paying for their Cambridge/Boston apartment for the summer in addition to rent for wherever they are living for the summer.
  • Harvard Law School Student Financial Services recommends against a student committing more than 60% of their monthly budget to housing expenses. Review SFS’s A Word or Two About Housing for more information about budgeting for housing.
  • 29% of HLS students have a car in town. If you are planning on bringing a car to the Greater Boston area, make sure to look into the parking options for each neighborhood and apartment. You will need to expect to may for parking in several different neighborhoods around town.
    • Parking rules and regulations are different from town to town.  Also, parking rules usually change during the winter.  If you are bringing a car, make sure you find out about the parking regulations for the entire year.
    • This Boston Apartment Price map shows neighborhoods of the Greater Boston Area and the expected rent for those neighborhoods.