Rental Costs

When living off campus it is important to consider your budget. How much money do you have to spend on rent, utilities (often not included), cable, internet, food, transportation, etc.? Do you have enough money for upfront fees? Students often live with housemates in order to reduce living expenses.

Upfront Fees

You must also consider the upfront cost to rent an apartment. There are generally four fees you will need to pay when you sign a lease: first month’s rent, last month’s rent, security deposit, and realtor’s fee. You may also be required to pay an application fee by a realtor or broker (a landowner cannot charge this fee). Do not complete the application or pay an application fee or any other deposits until you have seen and agree to the lease, all addenda, and applications clauses.

Co-signer Requirements

It is common for realtors and landowners to require a student tenant to have a co-signer. A co-signer is someone that can pay rent, should you not fulfill your payment responsibility. Co-signers are often parents or families members. International students may be able to use visa documentation to waive this requirement (see our International Students page).

Security Deposit

A security deposit is collected at the time a lease is signed to cover any damages that may be incurred during tenancy or if rent is owed at the end of tenancy. The security deposit cannot exceed one month’s rent. If there are no damages at the end of tenancy, 100% of the security deposit, plus interest, is returned to the tenant.

Avoid unreasonable or false deductions by completing the Apartment Condition Checklist within the first 15 days of tenancy. Give the landowner a copy as a record of needed repairs and pre-existing conditions. Take photos of every room, including floors and walls, before moving in and after moving out as further record of the apartment condition.

Realtor (Broker) Fee

A realtor fee is collected at the time a lease is signed as payment to the realtor or broker. Most realtors in Boston area charge a realtor fee which is usually paid by the tenant. The industry standard for a broker fee in Boston is equivalent to one month’s rent. If you are being charged more than one month’s rent for a broker fee, consider using another realty company.

Apartment Average Monthly Cost Comparison
(Last Updated April, 2024)



1 Bedroom 2 Bedrooms 3 Bedrooms
Waltham $1,902 $2,654 $3,251 $3,968
Allston/Brighton $2,572 $2,757 $3,464 $3,992
Boston $2,785 $3,354 $4,286 $5,739
Belmont $2,719 $2,827 $3,893 $4,545
Cambridge $2,800 $3,190 $4,106 $5,070
Newton $2,519 $2,824 $3,640 $4,775
Watertown $2,561 $2,987 $3,556 $4,777

Most units are listed as unheated; furnishings are generally not included. Prices may change based on the number of occupants.