Boston accommodation guide (rent or buy?)

If you’re moving to the USA, Boston might be on your list. Large family homes, city centre apartments and brownstone row houses, each have their own distinct charms. Boston is as popular as it is compact, making it one of the more expensive parts of the US to buy or rent a property. Nevertheless, for expats with the right budget, finding your ideal accommodation is more a matter of taste, lifestyle and patience.

Boston Brownstones

Brownstones iconic brownstones date back to the late 1800s. Boston’s answer to London’s plush terraced townhouses, these historical buildings stand three to five stories high and feature red or brown brickwork. Found predominantly in affluent areas of Back Bay, Beacon Hill and North End, row houses are considered especially desirable due to their enduring style, build quality and size.

Houses in Boston

Family homes can be found in the outer suburban areas. Given that Boston is bustling with students, houses for rent are often snapped up by those looking for a house-share arrangement to bring their rental costs down. Demand is especially high at the start of the academic year so if possible, plan your search earlier. There’s plenty of choice in terms of size so if you are bringing your family with you, there’s a good chance you’ll find a suitable home, albeit a little further away from the city centre than other property types.

Apartments & Condos in Boston

For those who like amenities with their living space, condos have a lot to offer. Exclusive penthouses come with a variety of luxuries including spas, roof gardens, concierge services and even children’s playrooms.
Loft style apartments are especially popular with buyers. Soaring ceilings and oversized windows make for light, airy living-spaces suitable for solo-expats or those with children in tow.

Property search in Boston

If your time is precious, it can be advantageous to engage a property (real estate) agent to help you with your house-hunting. Agencies typically charge at least one month’s rent as their fee but this can be well worth the investment. If you know you’ll be staying long-term and wish to buy, it can take time to find the perfect home. Starting with a rental property gives you the time to explore the area and expat job opportunities in the USA.

Boston property; price vs location

As one might expect, the city centre is the most desirable (and therefore most expensive) part of Boston. If you need close proximity to good schools and public transport, expect to pay a premium, even if you do opt for the suburbs.

Property rental contracts in Boston

As with any contract, you need to check the agreement carefully. Typical lease agreements are not dissimilar to those you’d find in the UK. Utility bills are usually paid directly by the tenant and two month’s rent is usually required for a deposit to secure the property.

Rent or buy

Depending on your budget and the time you are planning on staying in Boston, this is an important question. Typically, expats will initially rent, while they learn more about the city. When you have learnt about the different neighbourhoods and are planning to stay in Boston for some time, or would like to make a property investment, buying in Boston can be an attractive option. It is a popular and growing city, with a large student population and good employment opportunities, giving it a buoyant property market.
For more guidance on relocating across the pond, read our comprehensive guide on moving to the USA.