Below is information to help you plan your move to or within Boston. Whether you are relocating from across the country or just across town, you will benefit greatly if you have a budget and housing plan in place well before service begins.

City Year highly encourages members to secure housing and move prior to the first day of service to allow you to focus on building relationships with your teammates, immerse yourself in training, and adjust to your new neighborhood before the school year begins.

Many leases begin on July 1 or August 1, which is a great time to move and get settled. The service year runs from early August 2018 to mid-June 2019, so you will want to consider the timing of the end of your lease as well.

Because of the large number of college students in Boston, many leases also begin on September 1. While you may find an August sublet and move on September 1, be aware that it is a busy moving day/weekend in the city.

We recommend beginning your roommate search soon after accepting your offer to serve, and looking for housing three months before you want your lease to begin.

Deciding Where to Live

Finding Roommates

The Housing Search

Relocation and Housing Costs


Finding housing within their budget and reducing daily travel time are the considerations which have been top of mind for City Year AmeriCorps members. We highly recommend that before you begin your housing search, you review Living on a Budget and create a budget which reflects your financial situation and priorities.

Some members choose to live with family in the Boston area. If this is an option for you, it may allow you to save money on relocating to the area and your monthly living expenses. Depending on where family are located, in Boston or in a surrounding town, your daily travel may be longer than members who live in neighborhoods closer to their schools.

The City of Boston provides an overview of our diverse neighborhoods. Trulia provides a map of rental prices which is also helpful to visualize typical costs.

While you will not receive your school assignment until you begin service, focusing your housing search to specific neighborhoods will likely reduce your daily travel time. As the map below illustrates, most schools supported by City Year are near the MBTA’s Orange Line or accessed by buses departing from stations on this line. City Year Headquarters is also on the Orange Line at Back Bay Station. The Red Line and its bus connections are also convenient with affordable housing options.


Members living in Roxbury and Jamaica Plain typically report the shortest commute times. Members living in Allston, Brighton, and Charlestown report the longest daily commutes. Though Allston and Brighton typically have lower-cost housing options and entertainment options for those in their 20s, daily travel on the Green Line can be time consuming and affect your experience.

If you are bringing a car to Boston we highly recommend having a resident parking permit. Information about the process can be found online. You are required to prove Boston residency and register the vehicle in Massachusetts to obtain a permit, so plan ahead if you will be unable to do this when you first arrive with your car. Find more details at Getting Around Boston.


If you are hoping to live with another City Year member, the confirmed member Facebook group is the best way to find a roommate. Craigslist is another common source to find roommates in Boston, or apartments with open rooms who are seeking new roommates to join them.

City Year fraternization rules prohibit first-year and second-year members from living together unless they had a personal relationship prior to joining.

When you identify roommate(s) and begin your housing search, also discuss how you will share expenses (rent, utilities, internet, food) and what common items (furniture, television, kitchen items, etc.) you are each willing to contribute.


Members find housing through online posting sites, word of mouth, and sometimes on the City Year Facebook group (current members advertising their apartments). Postings should outline who to contact to learn more about the property, costs, and lease terms.

Working with a broker or agent who is familiar with the Boston rental market, and the specific neighborhoods you are focused on, may help expedite your housing search. Many landlords work with an agent to lease their properties. There are usually costs to use an agent for your search, or rent a property shown by an agent. Whenever working with an agent, ask if there are fees for you if you sign a lease using them. City Year does not work with specific brokers or agents.

Online Postings

Some utilities are included in the price of rent, so be sure to ask your landlord. When viewing apartments, most landlords or current tenants will gladly tell you the average price of utilities, so don’t be afraid to ask. It is also helpful to ask what utilities the house uses, such as gas or electric heat. Some units and buildings include laundry, for free or a cost, while others are located near laundromats.

The Boston area is a very competitive rental market, so rents are generally not negotiable. Communicating to the realtor/landlord that you are an AmeriCorps member may result in a discount, but we recommend doing your research and finding housing within your budget rather than relying on negotiations.


The costs to relocate to Boston, or within Boston, will vary based on the distance you are traveling and how much you are moving with you. The table below represents expenses you may incur to secure housing in the Boston area.

Typically you will be required to pay first and last month's rent upon signing your lease. Not all apartments require a broker/agent fee, so this expense may not apply. A security deposit may not be required. If you do have a security deposit, it will be returned to you at the end of your lease if the apartment’s condition is maintained.

Expenses Timing Estimate
Rent Upon signing lease Minimum: first month
Typical: first and last months
Security deposit Upon signing lease Typical: one month’s rent
Broker/Agent fee  Upon signing lease Typical: one month’s rent
Utilities Setup (cable/internet) Upon moving in Typical: $40-$60
Groceries Upon moving in $150
Settling-in Supplies Upon moving in $100
Other incidentals and fees  Within first month $100
MBTA pass August $85 for unlimited subway and bus