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International Students and Scholars

off-campus student living

Students walking past building.

Reminders:

  • Exchange Students: Spring Sublet Search, Step by Step Guide.
  • International exchange students can view our welcome newsletter by clicking here.
  • Boston College classes begin on Monday, August 27, 2018.
  • All visiting international students and scholars are required to update their local (off-campus) address on the Agora Portal.

Getting Started:

Many students arrive in Boston three-seven days before their program begins so that they can search for housing in person once they arrive. Students can find a list of temporary accommodations, such as hotels, hostels, and guest houses, by clicking here and/or here. Many also utilize services such as Airbnb. Be sure to note the distance from campus and access to public transportation when arranging accommodations.

Most students and scholars live within a 15 minute walk to campus, or within a 5-10 minute walk to one of the free BC shuttle bus stops. To view Boston College and the sounding neighborhood, click this Google map. Most students and scholars live in Boston (Brighton), Brookline, or Newton (Chestnut Hill). For a full descriptions of neighborhoods throughout the area, click here.

There may be a lot of new and unfamiliar terms you come across during your housing search or while living off-campus. To help you develop a better understanding of some of these words, please take a few minutes to review this list of housing vocabulary. If you come across any words or terms you do not know and are not on the list, please feel free to call or email us to ask!

To learn more about Boston College parking and transportation, including the free BC shuttle bus, please visit the Office of Parking and Transportation webpage here.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) also offers subway (T) transportation that has stops just outside BC's campus. The T is a popular and affordable choice for many who chose to travel into Boston. If traveling on the T from the city towards BC, keep in mind the B line will take you to the base of BC's main campus. The C line will take you to Cleveland Circle where you can walk or take the BC shuttle bus to BC's campus, and the D line will take you to the Reservoir stop where you can wait for the BC shuttle bus.

For directions on getting from Logan International Airport to Boston College, click here.

Common warning signs of scams or fraud include someone asking you to send money via Western Union, Moneygram, or PrePaided Visa card. Other red flags include landlords who insist on you sending money urgently - either before you have had time to explore the property or before they receive your rental application. It should also be a concern if the landlord or rental agent refuses share their information with you or refuses to meet with you in person.

For your protection, get everything in writing. This includes payment receipts, lease agreements, and any promises from the landlord. Do not give out personal and secure banking information over the phone or send any money without properly vetting a property. Finally, take photos of your unit on the day you move-in and document the condition of the apartment on a "move-in checklist form," especially if you provided a security deposit.

The apartment search process is different for everyone and largely depends on one's expectations, finances, roommates and schedule. Many start their search on-line one to three months in advance. This gives students and their families time to get a sense of cost, location, and allows plenty of time to connect with potential roommates. Some rely on photos, videos, or trusted real estate agents to learn about listings well enough to feel comfortable making arrangements via email. Others do their search on-line but wait until they arrive in the Boston area before they sign a lease. If this is the case, plan to arrive five to seven days early and book a temporary accommodation while you look for apartments in the area.

For access to the 2017 off-campus housing international student welcome newsletter, click here. The newsletter will provide incoming students with important information related to off-campus housing, transportation, utilities, and other important resources.  

The Boston College shuttle bus.

The Apartment and Roommate Search:

To search for apartments or roommates, visit our database at bc.edu/offcampushousing. If this is your first time to the website, click "sign up" in the top right hand corner. If you have your BC username and password, you can log in as "BC Student, Faculty, and Staff." If not, request "Guest Access" to the site and we can approve your account. Guest access is good for 60 days but can be re-newed anytime.

Many students and scholars attending Boston College for only one semester will look for a short-term (less than a year) accommodation. Options for short term housing include (1) being a sub-tenant for one semester, (2) signing a year-long lease and finding a sub-tenant for the time when you are away, (3) negotiating a short term lease, (3) utilizing a home-stay program that can accommodate a short term arrangement, or (4) sharing a bedroom with a roommate who is staying for the year. Sharing a bedroom allows one tenant to leave after a short term while the other can stay and can continue to afford the rent without needing to find a new roommate.

Students looking to connect with roommates can use the "roommate" tab of our apartment and roommate finder database, bc.edu/offcampushousing. For best results, complete your roommate profile in full and be honest about your lifestyle and housing expectations. Once you have your profile created, actively reach out to others with profiles to make them aware of your situation and interest.

Street of houses

Important Questions and Terms to Consider:

If you sign a lease using a licensed real estate agent you will likely pay a commission to the agency for their services. This commission, also known as an "agent fee," "broker fee," or "finder's fee," is typically the cost of one month's rent (it can be less, but cannot be more). Always ask upfront if there is a fee involved before you begin working with a real estate agent. Only licensed real estate agents can charge a commission for their services. 

You may be asked to pay up to four payment to secure an apartment in Massachusetts. The four payments include (1) the first month's rent, (2) the last month's rent, (3) a security deposit of up to one month's rent, and (4) a real estate agent fee of up to one month's rent (if used). Please refer to housing vocabulary for a full explanation of what each term means and why the upfront payments are often required when signing a lease.

The cost of utilities varies widely depending on the type of heat, wifi, cable package, and overall energy use. One good way to find out is simply to ask the landlord or previous tenant, since each building will be different in its utility costs. In general, expect to spend on utilities an amount equal to 20% of your monthly rent if you live alone, or about 10% of your monthly rent if you live with roommates. For information regarding local utility companies, click here.

Unless otherwise specified, apartments will come unfurnished. For a list of furniture stores and furniture rental options, please click here. Many students will also choose to purchase second-hand items from other students their own social media networks.

Most leases in the Boston area are one year terms from September 1-August 31. Leases can begin at anytime, as long as it is agreed upon by both the tenant and the landlord. If you do not plan on living in your unit for the full length of your term, make sure you discuss what type of approval is needed by your landlord before you agree on a sublease with a subtenant. If you are searching for subtenants, you can use your BC credentials and post your listing on BC's apartment and roommate database for free.

Always read your lease in full, especially the addendum. Addendums are typically the "extra" rules and regulations for a particular property that are in addition to the standard lease. You may see things like "no water furniture," "no more than 15 guests," "cats okay, but no dogs allowed," "no smoking inside the unit." These are just some examples of language or policies written in addendums. Be sure to read your lease and addendum carefully, asking questions and making any needed changes prior to signing the document.

Building Entrance

Living Off-Campus:

Once students have selected their off-campus apartment they are required to log into the Agora Portal to submit their local (off-campus) address. They can enter this information by selecting the "Addesses/Phone/Emergency Contact" tab in the Agora Portal. Failure to submit a local address will result in a hold being placed on the student's BC account.

Many off-campus students purchase property insurance to cover the loss or damage to personal property, including but not limited to computers, cell phones, books, and clothes. For more information or for a policy quote, click here.

Students living off-campus should always work with their landlord or property manager to make necessary repairs in or around their apartment. However, if their landlord or property manager does not respond to tenant's requests or fails to make proper repairs, students should call their local Inspectional Services Department (ISD). ISD is responsible for enforcing the state sanitary code and can mandate landlords to take action on property to come up to compliance with the code.