Open Menu Close Menu Open Search Close Search

Searching for Housing in Massachusetts

The information below is to help international students and scholars understand the process for finding housing. Housing is usually not guaranteed but is up to each person to find. However, finding adequate and reasonably-priced housing, especially in the Greater Boston area (including Boston, Medford, and Somerville) can be very challenging due to high demand and limited supply.

Student Housing: Undergraduate students are normally required to live on-campus for the first two years of study (exception: SMFA BFA students have a one year live-on requirement) and move off-campus for the final two years. Graduate students, with the exception of limited school-specific options, usually live off-campus for the entirety of their programs.

On-Campus Housing Information

Undergraduate Students. New undergraduate students are required under Tufts policy to live on-campus in one of the Tufts's residence halls or communities or the first two years of study at Tufts. You will receive information from the Office of Residence Life during the Admission process about on-campus housing options. For more information, go to the Office of Residence Life web site. (Note: BFA-only students attending the School of Museum of Fine Arts are required to live on-campus in Tufts housing near SMFA for their first year only. Combined BFA / BA students are subject to the two-year on-campus housing policy.)

Graduate Students. On-campus housing for graduate students is extremely limited, and will vary depending on your school and campus location. Some Tufts schools have limited residence hall opportunities for their graduate students; however, most graduate students and their families live off-campus. Newly-admitted students should first contact their Admissions office to see if their schools can provide direct information about on-campus housing options. Students in Arts & Sciences, the School of Engineering, the Fletcher School can also review this information about on-campus housing options on the Medford / Somerville campus and surrounding neighborhoods.

Off-Campus Housing

Finding housing, especially in the Greater Boston area, is one of the most challenging features of moving to the Boston area. The supply of affordable and conveniently located housing is very limited. The Boston area is home to numerous colleges and universities; as a result, there is a large student population seeking housing within a small geographic area.

Tips for First-Time Searchers

If you are new to searching for housing in the US, here are some important things to keep in mind

  • Housing laws and regulations in the US are typically set at the local level, by each town or city; there are few national or federal laws that apply to how you would find housing
  • Each town / city also establishes the rights you have as a tenant in the event that you experience problems with your landlord or your apartment
  • The supply of apartments, and rental rates, may depend on the time of year - many people search for housing during late spring and summer for August or September move-in dates; while rents are cheaper during the winter, the supply may be more limited
  • The most competitive apartments will be located near public transportation to allow for faster commutes to school and work
  • The cost of renting an apartment will typically include the monthly rent, security deposits (usually a month's rent that is returned to you after you move out); in certain building you may be billed separately for parking as well water, trash, and sewer
  • Utilities (gas and electricity) are usually paid for separately, as are amenities such as cable television

Once you have decided to come to Tufts, it is important to start researching off-campus housing options early - do not expect to find housing upon arrival. The following are additional suggestions to help you in your move to Tufts:

  1. If possible, visit Boston ahead of time to conduct an off-campus housing search. It is always better to see apartments in person rather than over the internet. If you cannot come for a housing visit, plan on arriving in the Boston early and staying at a short-term accommodation such as a hostel or short-term apartment while you look for housing. If you are coming with family, we recommend if possible that family members remain behind until you have found a suitable place.
  2. Understand housing terms and typical apartment rental requirements. Securing an apartment can involve up-front costs, such as application fees and security deposits. You may also be asked to pay the first and last month up front - however, you should never be asked to pay for the entire rental period up front.
  3. Consider travel times to school or campus. Affordable housing options may require a longer commute. While researching options, consider the distance and expected travel times from your house or apartment to school using either personal or public transportation. Also consider how many times a week you will need to come to campus.
  4. Network and ask for advice. If you know people - friends, relatives, and classmates - in the Boston area, draw on them for personal advice and experience. Also, many of Tufts's schools have arranged their own housing search resources for their incoming students, scholars, and employees. Networking and learning from other students by word-of-mouth are often the most helpful resources.
  5. Beware of apartment scams. Unfortunately, apartment scams are a frequent occurrence in housing searches; these typically involve online ads for apartments that seem unusually ideal and affordable, but are in fact being advertised under false pretenses. If an apartment is "too good to be true" it may be a scam! Educate yourself to learn how to identify an apartment scam.

Below are a variety of resources to help you in your off-campus housing search.

Off-Campus Housing Information

Tufts maintains an Off-Campus Housing resource where you can

  • Search for roommates to join you in the housing search
  • View presentations and guides about the nuts-and-bolts of looking for apartments in Massachusetts
  • Review available apartments and rooms in the Medford / Somerville and Boston areas

If you are renting an apartment, your rental arrangement may be at-will or involve a lease. At-will agreements allows a landlord to terminate the housing arrangement with a certain amount of advance notice. In most cases, you will instead sign a lease, which gives you (the tenant) the right to live at the residence for a specific period of time at an agreed-upon rent. Leases cannot be broken unless you commit a violation of the lease. At the same time, you may face penalties if you attempt to leave the residence before the end of the lease period.

Lease: this is the agreement between a landlord and tenant about the monthly rent, payment methods, move-in and move-out dates, and other fees, charges, and costs. Note that many apartment leases will include restrictions or fees for things such as pets, parking, use of common area or spaces, smoking and tobacco use, and other matters. It is essential that you understand the terms and conditions of your lease before signing it. Your apartment manager or landlord will also tell you if the rent covers utilities such as water, gas, electricity, and trash disposal.

Security Deposit: in many rental situations you will be asked to provide a security deposit, which should not be more than the equivalent of a month's rent. This deposit will be returned to you when you depart the residence, as long as the residence has not suffered any significant damage.

Rental Deposit: you may be asked to pay the first month and last month of rent when signing your lease.

For more information about leases, go to the Tufts Off-campus Housing web site and search under "Resources" for useful guides.


Tufts many graduate schools offer housing information, resources, and guides that may be of use. Please consult the web links below for more information: