Finding the right housing is an important part of your experience as a HGSE student. We recommend starting your housing search as early as possible to find the accommodation that best suits your needs. The Office of Student Affairs can provide guidance as you navigate through housing options. 

How OSA Can Help 

Outside of the OSA’s Scope  
The OSA is unable to help with the following: 

  • Finding and/or touring apartment rentals 
  • Finding roommates for students  
  • Vetting or endorsing external services or websites (such as Zillow, Craiglist, Padmapper, Zumper…etc)  
  • Reviewing or co-signing leases 

Helpful Housing Hints

  • Rent in the Cambridge/Boston area is very high $1,950 - $4,795/month + utilities; budget accordingly.
  • A real estate agency "finder's fee" is usually one month's rent; some apartment listings may offer a reduced or waived fee.
  • It is possible to find independent apartment listings online (rented directly by the landlord).
  • Be wary of "too good to be true" advertisements and scams.
  • DO NOT wire money (i.e. Western Union) in exchange for keys.
  • A lease is a binding legal contract. Before you sign a lease, make sure you read it thoroughly! If you have any questions, ask your realtor or landlord.
  • Plan for significant up-front expenses to secure your lease (up to four months' rent) for realtor fees, security deposit, first and/or last month's rent.
  • In addition to Cambridge, areas with access via public transportation include Somerville, Watertown, Belmont, Arlington, Allston, Brighton, and other Boston areas.
  • If possible, go see the apartment. High rent does not always indicate how nice an apartment really is.
  • July usually has the best number of available off-campus apartments.
  • Living farther from Harvard will reduce rent costs.
  • Ed School students may participate in a reduced rate (10% off) semester (4 months) public transportation pass program.
  • Always find out what's included in the rent (heat, hot water, parking, etc.).
  • Start looking early!

Furniture & Rentals Insurance

Although it is optional, you should consider having personal property insurance to cover both property loss and personal liability. This may be obtained through private brokers such as National Student Services, Inc, or through the Massachusetts Property Insurance Underwriters Association (MPIUA).


Most apartments do not come with furniture (including apartments owned by HUH).

For a large selection of used furniture: the MIT Furniture Exchange and the Harvard Habitat for Humanity as well as craigslist are good options.

Some students rent furniture. This is ideal for students who are traveling from long distances or on a tight budget. CORT Furniture (617) 354-3358 may be a good place to start.

Note: HGSE does not endorse any of the above organizations.


It is a good idea to find out if utilities are included in the monthly rental price of your apartment, if not, your rental price could be considerably higher.

  • Heat - find out from your landlord what company to arrange for service
  • Electricity - usually the most expensive utility
  • Gas - used to heat water, stoves, fireplaces
  • Water - usually included in the rent of an apartment, may be charged separately for use in a house
  • Washer/Dryer - coin-operated washing machines and dryers may be available in the building; many neighborhoods have a laundromat

Telephone Service

  • If you expect to use a landline telephone, you will need to set up telephone service before coming to campus(some students only use a cell phone).
  • There is usually an installation charge, as well as a monthly fee.
  • Choosing types of local and long-distance coverage service will also be necessary.

*Please note: Students who live in Harvard housing use one phone company. You are responsible for bringing your own telephone.

Below is a list of a few companies that offer phone service (land line) in Massachusetts.

  • Comcast
  • Cox
  • RCN

Cable Service Many students choose to have cable set up in their houses or apartments. The most popular cable service companies include:

  • Comcast
  • RCN

Obtaining a MA Driver's License

In order to operate a motor vehicle in the state of Massachusetts, you need to have a valid driver's license. If you wish to obtain a Massachusetts Driver's License, make sure you reference the guidelines provided by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.


While a car offers freedom and convenience, it is not necessary to bring a car to campus. If you do decide to have a car at Harvard, keep in mind that parking costs and insurance rates are notoriously high in the area.

On-Campus Residents

  • If you live in an HUH apartment, you may rent a parking space through the Harvard University Parking Office. HU parking permits are distributed at the start of each academic year at registration and are valid September 1 through August 31.

Off-Campus Residents

  • Depending on where you live off-campus, you may want to purchase a parking spot in or near your building. This is common for people living in Harvard Square where parking is extremely limited.
  • On-street city parking in Cambridge is by permit.
    • To purchase a permit, you must register your vehicle in Massachusetts at an address in the city, which will make it subject to state excise tax and local insurance rates. Permits are available through the Cambridge parking office.
  • For students who live off-campus and want to drive to school, the Harvard University Parking Office also offers commuter parking for a fee.


Pedestrian Travel

Both Boston and Cambridge are known as "walking cities." For your safety, Harvard University offers student transportation services such as Walking Escorts from 10:30 p.m. - 3:00 a.m. as well as an Evening Van Service between 7 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. throughout the University.


The Charles River's banks are a favorite path for cycling, running and rollerblading, and the surrounding area offers a number of recreational bike paths.

  • Quad Bikes, a non-profit bicycle shop for the Harvard Community, sells refurbished bicycles and new parts and accessories, does tune-ups and repairs, teaches classes in bicycle mechanics, and advocates for bicycles and bicycle users.
  • Wheelworks, this independently owned bike store and longtime sponsor of the Harvard Cycling Team, sells quality used and new bikes.
  • Broadway Bicycle School, a collectively owned, bicycle repair shop. They teach people how to fix their bikes in addition to selling new and used bikes, parts, and accessories.
  • We suggest you register your bike with the Harvard University Police during registration, and lock it when unattended. Bike racks are available in multiple areas on the Harvard campuses.

Harvard University Shuttle

Harvard University offers students free shuttle bus service to various areas of the University, as well as fully accessible van service for students with disabilities.

Mass Transit

The HGSE campus is within walking distance of Boston's public transportation system (the MBTA, or "T"), which serves most areas of Boston and Cambridge by subway and bus, as well as many suburbs by commuter rail.

  • HGSE students can purchase monthly T passes at an 10% discount twice a year. The Fall pass program covers September-December, and the Spring program covers February-May.
  • Without a pass, there are three options for payment: cash, CharlieTicket, and CharlieCard. The CharlieCard is a plastic reusable card and gives you the less expensive fare per ride. You can read more about the CharlieTicket and CharlieCard online.