When I decided to attend BC Law, housing was one of my top concerns. At the time that I was applying to law school, I was living in New York City, and Boston was somewhat unfamiliar. I had visited many times previously, but I knew that memories of family vacations to walk the Freedom Trail were not enough to help me make the best decision. I relied on the experiences of BC Law students, and I was not disappointed. As a 3L, I can now say that I have happily lived in my apartment for all three of my years at BC Law. For those of you with the same housing worries that I had, hopefully I can help you find your fit as you decide to join the Class of 2022.
First, it’s important to decide what type of neighborhood fits your personality. Let’s break down some of the most popular locations for BC Law students to live:
- Newton: Just in case you missed it, BC Law is located in Newton, MA, so living in Newton makes getting to campus super easy. While the other neighborhoods that I highlight provide most housing in the form of apartments, Newton is a more residential setting. Most BC Law students in Newton rent houses with multiple bedrooms, giving the area a homier feel. For those living in certain areas of Newton, it is possible to walk or bike to campus, although this does get more difficult during the winter months. Public transportation is somewhat more limited with an MBTA (or the “T” as we call it here) stop on the D train of the Green Line in Newton Centre providing the majority of downtown Boston access. One thing to note: Newton is actually a small city, and there are 13 different neighborhoods, or “villages,” within it. That can make it a little confusing at first, although you’ll figure things out quickly. BC Law is in Newton Center (and close to Chestnut Hill, where BC’s main campus is located). The other 11 villages are Auburndale, Newton Corner, Newton Highlands, Newton Lower Falls, Newton Upper Falls, Newtonville, Nonantum, Oak Hill, Thompsonville, Waban, and West Newton.
- Cleveland Circle: Located in Brighton (an incorporated neighborhood of Boston), this is a favorite spot for BC Law students and Boston-based students more generally. The neighborhood is accessible to the B, C, and D trains off the Green Line of the T. For those students who do not have cars, the BC Law Express shuttle has a centrally located pick-up spot at the Bank of America in Cleveland Circle, which also adds to the location’s convenience. Additional highlights include Cityside Bar and Eagle’s Deli, which are both BC staples. Located approximately a 15-minute drive away from the law school campus, Cleveland Circle is where I have called home for the past 3 years. I personally like the accessibility to downtown Boston that the T provides, while also being within a close proximity of the law school and other BC Law students.
- Allston-Brighton: While Cleveland Circle is located within Brighton, the Allston-Brighton neighborhood more generally has its own appeal. Also an incorporated neighborhood of Boston, Allston is known for being the destination for college students and recent grads. While you won’t be short of dive bars in Allston, Allston has a wealth of diverse food options, particularly Asian cuisine. Additionally, it has several music venues, like Brighton Music Hall, that host a large amount of concerts and events. Allston is accessible by the T’s B train on the Green Line.
- Brookline: Moving closer to downtown Boston, Brookline borders Cleveland Circle, but features its own unique personality. With access to downtown along the C and the D trains on the Green Line, Brookline is home to several fun and delicious restaurants including Barcelona Wine Bar, Burro Bar, and The Publick House. Brookline is about 5-10 minutes farther from the law school than Cleveland Circle, but many current law students live in this area. If you do plan to bring a car with you to Boston, Brookline does not have overnight street parking, so parking space accommodations are a must.
- Coolidge Corner: Continuing our move towards downtown, Coolidge Corner is home to great restaurants, shops, and the Coolidge Corner Theatre, a historic independent theater that hosts a variety of film and cultural events. While the previously mentioned neighborhoods feature older homes or apartment buildings, Coolidge Corner has many options to live in new, more modern apartment buildings. Coolidge Corner is a neighborhood within Brookline, so similar parking restrictions apply. Also accessible by the C and D trains on the T’s Green Line, commuting from Coolidge Corner to BC Law most often takes 15-20 minutes.
- Fenway: Now entering Boston, Fenway is not only home to the historic Fenway Park of Boston Red Sox fame, but it is a popular destination for young Boston residents. The Fenway neighborhood features many new and modern apartment buildings all within walking distance of a variety of bars and restaurants. While game day can make this neighborhood particularly crazy, its accessibility to both the C and D trains on the T’s Green Line make this a great option for BC Law students who want more of a downtown feel while still remaining close enough to the law school world. BC Law students often go out in this neighborhood, so it’s easy to convince your friends to come visit.
- Downtown: Downtown Boston encompasses many neighborhoods, including Beacon Hill, Back Bay, the South End, and the North End. While the majority of BC Law students choose to live closer to campus, many students do choose to live downtown. Generally, housing will be a bit pricier in downtown Boston and your commute to campus will be longer, depending on the specific neighborhood that you choose to call home. For those of you craving that city vibe, the commute can be completely manageable with the right planning.
- Cambridge/Somerville: Across the Charles River from Boston proper, Cambridge and Somerville are other unique options where many BC Law students choose to live. Cambridge and Somerville both have great restaurants and bars, and as my time at BC Law is drawing to a close, I find myself wishing that I had spent more time exploring there. While each of these neighborhoods is distinct, both share one thing in common: there is no direct public transportation connecting them to BC Law. While the T’s Red Line connects Cambridge to the rest of the city, a transfer to the Green Line is necessary to make it to Newton. This commute almost always requires a car, so this is not the best living option for everyone.
Next, if you are interested in living with a roommate or roommates, BC Law makes it easy to find people to live with. I personally found my roommates on the BC Law Admitted Students Facebook Page. If you have yet to join, add yourself ASAP. This is the best way to connect with your classmates prior to the start of the school year, and it is totally a place to post that you are looking for roommates, an apartment, or both! Many current BC Law students will post about their current housing, particularly if they are moving after graduation. I also found my apartment on this page from BC Law students, and it was very helpful to know that my living situation had previously been great for others at BC Law.
Boston College also has a helpful off-campus housing website with current available listings, helpful resources, and a roommate finder included. You might find a lot of undergraduates or other graduate school students on there, but it’s well worth a look.
Finally, Boston is known for its infamous September 1st lease starts, which can be particularly tricky for BC Law students. While many students seek temporary housing for orientation and the start of classes in August, it is extremely helpful to find apartments with an August 1st lease. I highly recommend the Facebook page for this purpose as well. Many 3Ls will be studying and taking the bar away from Boston, so they can provide great options for finding earlier lease starts. I was able to negotiate an August 1st lease start based on this exact situation, and it eliminated a lot of stress surrounding the start of 1L orientation and classes.
Boston is a great city to be a student, particularly a law student. As I had the experience of moving from another city to Boston to start my law school journey at BC Law, I understand the concerns that can come with a move. I have loved my time at BC Law and the experiences that I have had in Boston, and I hope that these quick tips will make your transition as easy as possible.
Oh, one more thing: BC Law produced a great video that highlights the various neighborhoods around the school. Check it out below.
3L Brianna Marshall is originally from central Pennsylvania, and graduated from Bucknell University in 2015 with a degree in Animal Behavior and a French minor. During her gap year, Brianna lived in New York City, working for several nonprofits dedicated to food policy and global hunger. Have questions about life as at BC? Contact Brianna at firstname.lastname@example.org.