International Students

As international students, finding housing in a new country may seem hard.  Off Campus Engagement and Support is here to help guide you through the process. Review our ‘Get Started’ page, watch our off campus video series, and refer to our International Student Apartment Guide below.

May 2022: Watch our most recent Off Campus Housing presentation for graduate students here

Start by Answering These Questions:

  • What type of apartment are you looking for? There are studio, 1 bedroom, and multi-bedroom apartments. Some apartments are in large building complexes while others may be within a single-family home that has 1-3 individual apartments inside.
    • Most apartments are unfurnished. Rent or buy furniture.
    • Temporary apartments, guest houses, and homestays cater to international students and are often furnished and do not require a long term contract.
    • Try nesterly! nesterly pairs local homeowners with a spare room with graduate students willing to exchange help around the house such as walking the dog or helping with groceries for cheaper rent.
  • How long do you want to stay? Most leases in Boston are for 12 months. You cannot leave the apartment without paying every month’s rent, or by obtaining permission from your landlord to find someone to sublet your room.
  • Do you want to live with roommates? Many new students find that living with others makes the transition to Boston and a new culture much easier. All roommates must be listed on the lease contract.
  • What neighborhood within Boston?  Learn more about Boston’s neighborhoods. Most students live within 2 miles of campus.
  • How much do you want to spend? See the average monthly rental costs by neighborhood and additional monthly costs here.
  • Do you need a co-signer? Some landlords/property managers will require a co-signer, which can be a daunting task for international students. In these cases, we suggest taking the following steps:
    • Make sure to indicate that you are an international student. Some applications are automated and co-signing may be waived if they know you are international.
    • Discuss your application with the landlord/property manager. Most landlords/property managers know that international students may not have a co-signer and will opt to charge a fee instead.
    • Learn about and use third-party co-signing companies. These services charge a fee to serve as a co-signer and may be the right choice for you.

Your Apartment Search

  1. AVOID SCAMS! Make sure to get either an in-person or live virtual tour before signing anything.
  2. Use your Student Hub login credentials to login to the Housing Database to find apartments listings, roommates profiles, and licensed realtors.
    • How to Use the Northeastern Housing Database
      •  Browse property listings, find roommates, and create a roommate profile so students may contact you too.
        • Sort apartment listings by their proximity to Northeastern. View available public transit options on each apartment listing.
      • Find an apartment that is right for you! Use filters to search by neighborhood, number of rooms, monthly rent, and more.
      • When you find an apartment you’re interested in, contact the realty company via the telephone number or email address provided on the listing.
      • Visit apartments in person. We recommend you visit, or have someone you know locally, visit several apartments so you can compare.
        • Decide which apartment you want and get a lease from the realtor.
        • Make sure you read and understand the lease before you sign it.
      • You will need to provide documentation. The realtor wants to know that you are able to pay for an apartment and will ask for information on a rental application. You may use your I-20 or DS-2019 to show funding instead of a social security number.
      • All roommates must be listed on the lease contract. No more than 4 unrelated persons may reside together to avoid unsafe conditions and overcrowding.

Avoid Scams

Internet web sites and other third party rental resources are great for searching for roommates, apartments, and subletting. However, this is no guarantee they are free from scams. Be cautious when completing transactions with prospective roommates, tenants, landlords, etc. Learn about common scam techniques and avoid becoming a victim. Here are some guidelines to help keep you scam free.

  • Use Northeastern’s Off-Campus Housing Database.
  • Never rent a place you can’t view in advance.
  • Never wire funds via Western Union or MoneyGram.
  • Never make payments in the form of cash. Use a credit card or bank check that can be tracked. Many credit cards offer fraud protection.
  • Never give out financial or personal information such as social security numbers, bank account numbers, or credit card information.
  • Be mindful of fraudulent checks and money orders.
  • Keep in mind, if it feels wrong – it probably is!

Questions to Ask Your Realtor or Landlord

Make sure you ask questions! You should be able to complete the Apartment Hunting Checklist before signing your lease.

Understanding the Lease and Broker Fee

Understand the lease before you sign it. Do not sign a lease unless you have fully read and understood it.

  • Request a copy of the application and lease (with addendum) for review. Do not complete the application or pay an application fee until you have seen and agree to the lease, all addenda, and applications clauses.
  • Visit our Lease Genius page and send any specific questions you have to us if you cannot find the answer! Do not sign the lease until you have fully read and understood it. If you do not agree to a certain clause in the lease, you can ask for it to be removed or revised. If your landlord is not willing to negotiate, you may want to consider a different apartment.
  • Your lease defines what you can and cannot do while living in your apartment.
  • All tenant names must be on the lease. If your name is not on the lease, you are not protected.
  • Violating the terms of the lease can lead to serious consequences.
  • Never pay rent in cash! Pay by check or money order and keep receipts of all payments.
  • Obtain a copy of your lease after you sign it.
  • Working with a realtor often requires an extra fee, which is usually equivalent to one month’s rent. This is called the realtor or broker fee.

Know Your Rights & Responsibilities as a Renter!

You have rights and responsibilities as a renter in Boston. Your landlord also have rights and responsibilities that must be upheld. Read about your rights here.

Moving, Shipping, and Storage

Disclaimer: Off-Campus Engagement and Support provides information to Northeastern University students, faculty, and staff members solely as a courtesy. Northeastern does not endorse any of the services listed. Northeastern University accepts no responsibility for the accuracy or reliability of listings with the office. Contact with persons listed herein must be conducted independently and at your own risk.


Northeastern University

360 Huntington Ave.

Boston, MA 02115

(617) 373-8480

Monday - Friday: 9am - 5pm

or schedule a virtual appointment.