On or Off Campus Housing for Boston’s Students?

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With the new academic year upon us, students attending schools in the Boston area have settled into their new dorms or apartments. Many students, especially upperclassmen, prefer to move to off-campus apartments to avoid the high costs associated with living on campus.

This is most apparent among Boston students who pay the second highest bill for sleeping and eating of any city in the country.

Just look at the yearly and monthly expenses for the cheapest housing options from the following schools:

School Room & Board Cost Monthly Cost
Emerson College $15,700 $1,962.50
Harvard University $15,381 $1,922.62
Boston College $15,001 $1,875.12
Suffolk University $14,648 $1,831.00
Boston University $14,520 $1,815.00
Northeastern University $14,472 $1,809.00
Tufts University $13,094 $1,636.75

(Note these costs include the room cost in addition to the meal plan costs that are required at most schools) 

Compare this to the most affordable neighborhoods in Boston by average rent per person:

Neighborhood Avg. Monthly Cost Per Person Yearly Cost
Dorchester $708 $8,496
Mattapan $725 $8,700
Hyde Park $778 $9,336
Roslindale $836 $10,032
Roxbury $948 $11,376
West Roxbury $970 $11,640

Source: WCVB Boston

For a mere 8 month period versus a full year lease, you can see why living off campus may be a more attractive option for students. But what’s the catch?

Well, your living conditions may entail living in an overcrowded, roach infested unit reminiscent of tenement life in one of those 19th century Russian novels.

For too long landlords have been packing students into buildings riddled with building code violations, the most concerning being fire code violations. Most of these violations go unchecked and unsanctioned for no reason whatsoever, according to a report by the Globe.

Recently, Boston has bore witness to multiple fires to student-occupied buildings, some of which have resulted in severe injury or death. The cause? Landlords failing to abide by the state’s most basic building codes.

Thankfully, the city has kept its promise of inspecting the 589 units suspected of violating building codes, particularly those related to overcrowding. However, more inspections are needed if residents and students are to live free of risk.

Jacob is a transparency intern at the Pioneer Institute from Umass Amherst.