As someone who grew up in the suburban areas of Maryland, I was nervous about not having a car. On interview day, two of the hottest topics are housing and transportation. Boston is small city made up of many neighborhoods. NECO itself is located in Back Bay, right by the Esplanade with a view of MIT across Charles River. During my first year I lived in Allston, about a 30 minutes commute by train west of the school. Currently I live in Fenway, which is about a 15 minute walk to school.
Where do I begin?
Thankfully the city of Boston has a very student heavy population, so there were always available apartments in the area. Realtors within Boston understand that a large demographic of the city is students, so they often reach out with a list of questions:
- How many people will you be living with?
- How many rooms are you looking for?
- What is your budget?
- Where is your school located?
- How far away from school are you looking?
- Are there any restrictions you have?
When it comes to apartments in Boston, the closer to downtown the apartment is located, the higher the rent gets and the smaller the room sizes get. Since I lived in Allston my first year, rent was lower for me and my two roommates and our shared space was quite generous, but we did have to commute by train to get to school. Now that I live close to downtown relative to my first year, I pay more for a smaller sized apartment, but I now have the chance to simply walk to school.
How do I find roommates?
Once accepted into NECO, there is a class Facebook group that students may join. In it, a classmate will either post that they are looking for roommates or someone will most likely begin a spreadsheet that will introduce themselves, what their living habits are like, what their budget is, and where they are thinking about living. This gives students an opportunity to contact one another and communicate about living situations before deciding to live together. NECO also hosts a housing fair in June, inviting students and realtors to meet, mingle, and take tours of available apartments. It’s a great way to potentially meet your roommate for the first time or even find a roommate!
In my case, two of my classmates were also from the same undergraduate school as me, so we dedicated a weekend to travel to Boston and booked a dozen or so apartment showings with several realtors, and by the end of Sunday we signed a lease! Boston is a very walkable city, so navigating around wasn’t terribly difficult (with the help of Google Maps).
Should I bring my car?
Parking spots are hard to come by in Boston, and with so many apartments within walking distance to the school, we don’t often recommend a car for students who are moving in from out of town. Buying a spot can be upwards of $400/month and there isn’t any student parking in the school parking lot. Also keep in mind that street cleaning is once a week and during the snowy months, streets need to cleared to allow for snow to be cleared. A car ends up being more of a hassle if you live in the city.
With so much public transportation, navigating your way around is easy peasy. Like New York City, the busses and trains have their individual flat fees. You can just request a refillable card at a station and refill it as you go! If you’re in a rush, Uber and Lyft are simple are popular apps we use, and it becomes a great carpooling service once students need to get to clinic.
I know moving to a new city is a brand new adventure and it can bring a lot of confusion if it’s your first time away from home. There are faculty and upper years dedicated to answer any questions you may have when you join the Facebook group, so keep an eye out!
Photo caption: Our first piece of artwork hung up in our new home! A friend painted this as a goodbye present for our apartment as a little tribute to home. This is a shoutout to all my Terps out there!
Tiffany is a third year student at New England College of Optometry. Born and raised in Maryland, she graduated from the University of Maryland in both Biological Sciences and Psychology. Her initial interest in optometry stems from shadowing and working in practices that provide vision therapy.