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Home Sweet Home: A Guide to Graduate Student Housing

Written by Ruaidhri Crofton, History & Museum Studies M.A. 2020

So you’ve been accepted to a graduate program at Tufts and you just can’t wait for your new adventure to begin! You’re starting to make travel plans and maybe even connecting with some of your future professors and classmates. Everything seems to be coming together, but you still have to figure out one of the more frustrating aspects of becoming a graduate student: housing. 

As cheesy as it may sound, Tufts will not only become the place you go to school. For many students who aren’t from the region, the Boston area will also become your “home” for the next several years. With so many things to consider when looking for housing, the process of house hunting can quickly become overwhelming. As someone who has already been through the process of finding a place to live while attending Tufts (and is getting ready to do it again for the upcoming school year), here are a few tips and tricks I have for making your housing search as straightforward as possible. 

1. Consider On-Campus Housing

The first thing to consider when searching for housing is the fact that Tufts does provide a limited number of rooms for graduate students on the Medford/Somerville campus. This is a great option, particularly for incoming first-years, as it eliminates many of the more difficult parts of finding a place to live. Because this housing is managed by the university, you won’t have to worry about finding available properties, contacting landlords, locating roommates, or buying furniture. You also won’t have to be concerned about not being able to view the room before you arrive. However, applicants for on-campus housing are selected via a lottery system so keeping other options in mind as a backup if you aren’t selected is wise. More information can be found on the Office of Residential Life website.

2. Do Some Online Searching

Luckily, the days of searching through crowded bulletin boards or looking for “For Rent” signs in windows is over as there are now a seemingly endless number of websites and resources available to students searching for off-campus housing. However, starting to search these sites for available rooms as soon as possible is ideal. Tufts offers a fantastic off-campus housing website for students to search for apartment listings and roommates in the Boston and Somerville/Medford areas. Other third-party platforms can also be helpful in finding good housing accommodations. I have found Jump Off Campus to be one of the more helpful sites for housing searches. Social media pages, such as the “Tufts University Housing, Sublets & Roommates” Facebook group, are also good places to find good housing opportunities both near campus and beyond. 

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Expand Your Search 

Though living right across the street from campus and being able to roll out of bed right before class is nice in many respects, available housing options may not always be so convenient. Due to the number of rental properties immediately adjacent to the Tufts campuses and the fact that rent prices tend to be higher the closer you get to the school, you might want to consider expanding your search area to find better/more affordable alternatives. Looking in communities slightly further from Tufts may get you more “bang for your buck”. Utilizing public transportation can also make the distance less inconvenient and even give you a good excuse to get some extra exercise on your way to class!

4. Networking Works!

Many graduate students elect to live in shared accommodations with several other Tufts students. Not only does this often make housing more affordable by splitting the cost of rent and utilities between several tenants, it also provides you with a great opportunity to meet new people in your first year! If you happen to already know students currently enrolled at the university or who will be starting at the same time as you, chatting with them about the possibility of living together could make finding roommates less difficult/awkward. At the same time, connecting with students using social media or Tufts platforms is another way to find others who might be looking for prospective roommates and housing. Depending on your department, there may also be a way for you to connect with other students in your field. Though it certainly may feel odd at first, I can personally attest to meeting some great friends this way. 

5. Know Your Budget and Your Preferences

With so many things to consider with housing, it’s easy to get overwhelmed! Before you get started looking for housing, make sure to identify what you are looking for in a prospective housing accommodation. Things like setting a budget and identifying preferences such as number of roommates, location, whether or not furniture is provided, etc. will be important to streamlining your search. Though it is unlikely to happen to you, it is also important to be aware of the potential for housing scams. Taking steps like viewing an apartment before signing a lease and knowing your rights as a tenant are important for having a pleasant experience in your new home. More information can be found on the Off-Campus Housing resources page.