Where Will I Live? An Overview of On and Off Campus Housing Options

Editor’s Note: Whether you have recently been admitted to HDS or you are considering applying, we know you may have questions about where you will live while completing your degree program. For students who are not already in the Boston or Cambridge area, looking at housing options can be particularly confusing and stressful. We hope this post provides more clarity on the various housing options that HDS students can choose from. While the ongoing pandemic has left us with some unanswered questions about what exactly fall term will look like, we advise students to plan to be on campus in the fall. 

CSWR building seen from Francis Avenue, spring 2013.

On Campus Options 

Harvard offers several on campus housing facilities are usually within walking distance from campus making them a convenient housing option. While there is no housing specifically for HDS students, the closest thing is the Center for the Study of World Religions (CSWR). The CSWR is located right across from Andover Hall and it is a residential community that fosters living and learning with a focus on world religions. Students interested in living here must apply before the April 16th deadline. You can find more information here. You can also look for on campus housing for graduate students through Harvard University Housing which offers everything from studios to 4 bedrooms. To sign up, you’ll need to make an account on the HUH website under the tab “Applicant Portal” and start an HUH application. The priority application deadline for Harvard University Housing is May 1st. HUH works via a lottery system and applicants are randomly assigned a View/Select Window. Applicants receive their View/Select Window appointment via email and View/Select Windows begin in early May. Since HUH is via a lottery system, the sooner your View/Select Window timeslot, the more housing options there will be available. One of the most popular Harvard housing options is the Cronkhite Center, a dorm-like residence hall where students live in single rooms located on-campus among a community of other graduate student various programs across Harvard. While on campus housing options can be a bit more expensive than off campus options, if being close to campus is essential to your experience then it is worth considering. 

Off Campus Options 

Many HDS students opt to live in off campus housing to save money or be more integrated into the larger Boston community. When considering off campus housing the most important question you need to ask yourself is how important is it for your HDS experience and success to live close to campus. For some students, living within walking distance from campus is central to their experience, while other students opt to live up to an hour away from campus. The closer you live to campus, the more expensive it may be. You can also lower costs by opting to live with roommates.  

As you begin planning out your budget, be sure to look at how much rooms or apartments cost on average in your preferred neighborhood. Be sure to consider the upfront costs of renting an apartment which often includes a Broker’s Fee, first month’s rent, last month’s rent, and a security deposit. If you choose to live with roommates, you can split these fees and save some money. Another option is to find a room in an already established apartment instead of a vacant apartment with a set of new roommates. Depending on how far you live from campus, it may be helpful to look at public transportation options. If you do not have a car, you will probably utilize the MTA services quite a bit. If you do choose to bring your car, be sure to look at whether the apartments you are considering offer off street parking. On street parking requires a permit which requires that you have insurance in Massachusetts which means you’ll need your car registered in Massachusetts and an MA driver’s license. This can be more expensive compared to what you are accustomed to paying in your own state. As we get closer to summer, you’ll begin seeing room openings posted on the admitted student Facebook page, but we also encourage you to join Boston housing and rental Facebook groups. You can also look at craigslist or Harvard University Housing, Sublets, and Roommates

Timeline 

As soon as you commit, we encourage you to start searching through housing options. While there will still be plenty of options later in the summer, the earlier you secure housing the less stressed you’ll be as we approach the start of the new academic year. Keep in mind that for Harvard University Housing, most leases are signed in July with move-in dates in mid-August.

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