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Somerville, MA: Mom needs rental advice for recent college grad

Somerville, MA: Mom needs rental advice for recent college grad

Old Jul 1st, 2010, 02:42 PM
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Somerville, MA: Mom needs rental advice for recent college grad

My daughter is looking at apartments on Thorndike Avenue near Davis Square. Is this a good location? Also, any advice I may not have thought about in checking out references on rentals she's found through CRAIGS LIST? Thanks so much!
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Old Jul 1st, 2010, 02:51 PM
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I think you meant Thorndike Street? Davis Sq is a very hip and upcoming area, and I think it's very safe. It used to be not that great, but in the last decade or so, Davis Sq & Somerville has gentrified a lot with LOTS of young couples (late 20s/early 30s) moving in there because it's still relatively affordable AND close to the city.

Regarding Craigslist, I don't know what you mean by checking out references. Do you mean if the landlord is legitamate, or do you mean if the landlord is a good/bad person? Nowadays, LOTS of real estate agents (who do rental properties) list their apts on Craigslist as well, so it really depends on which place she's interested and who owns it. Of course, if the place she's interested in has always been a rental, she can ask the landlord to provide her with previous renters' email or phone # so she can contact them for reference.

FWIW, we rented our place (just outside of Boston) via Criagslist. We must have looked at 10 different places and none of the were a scam - if that's what you're worried about?
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Old Jul 1st, 2010, 02:56 PM
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P.S. Of course, it's still important for your daughter to use common sense and street sense, esp if she's walking home alone at night. Even in very safe neighborhoods (such as Cambridge & Brookline), lately there have been reports of attempted assualts and attempted thefts. Just last night, someone was trying to steal a former Olympian's Vespa in Brookline. Fortunately, all these have been unsuccessful attempts when the intended victims fought back. If your daughter is living alone, I would suggest her take a couple of self-defense classes if she had never done so. I say this not because of concern about Davis Sq or Somerville that she's considering; but more of a general statement.
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Old Jul 1st, 2010, 03:28 PM
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Is she acquainted w/any locals who can help? Is she connected w/Tufts? Can she access their housing office?

Ditto to what yk says above. Davis Square and the Tufts area are known to be safe but it is an urban area and no urban area is completely w/o cause for being careful.

My son went to Tufts and never had a moment of concern for safety. There is another Lounge poster who has a daughter there and I hope she will chime in here!

Same son--who now lives in LA---found his most recent apartment thru Craigslist and had smooth sailing. Again, you have to exercise good judgment. I have heard of scams.
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Old Jul 1st, 2010, 04:37 PM
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Maybe you will reach more people if you also post in the Lounge?
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Old Jul 1st, 2010, 05:03 PM
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I don;t want to be harsh but I don;t get this. A college graduate is an adult - and should be able to organize renting an apartment. I would have been mortified if my parents got involved in organizing my living arrangements even when I was in school - never mind afterward.

Granted I stayed in their house during the summers while I was in school - working 2 jobs except for one summer vacation - but I was responsible for myself - finances and living arrangements - from the time I started school at 17. I decided to live in a dorm, what type of dorm, what jobs I was working during the year and during the summers, what courses I was taking - and where I was going to live after graduation. All of my friends/suitemates did the same. (A couple of us managed to find a sublet for the summer and eventually our own place in Manhattan - dealing with landlords, agents, walking streets looking for likely buildings - until we found something we could afford.

Are todays young adults not able to do this themselves?
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Old Jul 1st, 2010, 05:38 PM
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nytraveler,

I understand what you're saying. My daughter is more than capable of renting an apartment, but has never lived in Boston before, and is asking for our advice. And since we have to sign as co-guarantors on her lease, I think we get some say in where and what she chooses.
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Old Jul 1st, 2010, 05:43 PM
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To yk and social worker:

Thanks for the advice. I'm not all that familiar with how CRAIGS LIST works ( heard of it, but that's about it), so I was a bit worried about my daughter being scammed. We already suggested that she contact the landlord's former tenant, and what she's seen does seem legit. Anyway, I appreciate your help!
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Old Jul 1st, 2010, 05:57 PM
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Hi Weadles,

Anyone can post on Craigslist, so yes, there are lots of scammers there. Is your daughter renting the place sight unseen? Or will she be meeting the landlord before she rents the place?

I guess I would be a bit concerned if she's renting this without seeing the place and without meeting the landlord.

But if she's already seen the place and met the landlord, and if the former tenants checked out okay, then she should be fine. Of course, I'd also google the landlord's name and phone #, and the apt address and see what comes up!
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Old Jul 1st, 2010, 06:01 PM
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Is your daughter renting the apartment sight unseen? or will she be checking it out?

Craig's list has some dubious ads but most are legit. Check the address out on Google and on Google maps. You'll be able to see if anyone wrote a complaint and also be able to look at the building.

The area is fine. I've known lots of people who have lived near there. No problems, just use the usual precautions you'd use anywhere.

Let us know if you need more information. Good luck.
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Old Jul 1st, 2010, 07:18 PM
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Hi yk and cw,

My daughter visited the apartment today, and really liked it. She was shown around by the property manager though, not the landlord. Great idea to google the landlord's name and number. I'd only thought about getting in touch w/ former tenants.

Next question: Does $1800 sound about right for a three-bed in the area? And am I correct in guessing that utilities will probably run about $400/month in the winter months? Of course she will ask to see utility bills. Just trying to get a rough estimate of what she ( and we!) are in for. Thanks!
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Old Jul 1st, 2010, 07:35 PM
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$1800 for a 3 bed is very reasonable for the area. Are heat and hot water included? I would imagine so. If not, there is no way we can tell you how much heat will be without knowing the type of heating, size of the apartment, etc., etc. Too many variables.

As for electric, I have a 3 bed in Boston and my bill is between $50-$60 per month.

Davis Sq is a great area for a recent grad, there will be tons of kids her age in the area.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2010, 02:50 AM
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wyatt92,

Thanks for your help! No, gas and electric are not included. Does $1800 still sound reasonable?
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Old Jul 2nd, 2010, 03:45 AM
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Davis Square is a desirable area, a very desirable area, so $1800 is a good price for a three bedroom. Does she have roommates already or will she have them to share the rent?

Yes, she will have to develop street smarts and no, she should not go jogging at 2 AM in, but the area is full of students and young working people and has a very lively bar and restaurant scene along with good transportation into the city.

That said, mom, I agree with nytraveler. You have done what you could do. She is an adult. Even if she asks for help, it is time to let her [make her] do this kind of stuff on her own. If she is going into graduate school or working, she is not going to be able to call you for help, I assure you.

I am writing this as a loving father but also as a former college administrator and, in another incarnation, an employer of a number of young people over the years. She needs to take responsibility for this. If she is overwhelmed, she may not be ready to live and study/work in a big city.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2010, 04:22 AM
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Ackislander, I appreciate your help, but since as I've posted, we have to co-sign on this lease, I don't think it's unreasonable to ask a few questions about price and area! BTW, we lived in NYC for many years, plus my daughter lived in Paris last year, so she is not at all overwhelmed at the thought of living in Boston.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2010, 04:45 AM
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Agree with above about area, rent, cost, etc. (That answers your specific questions).

As far as unsolicited parenting advice - said as parent of 19 and 24 year olds. I do not think you are over-stepping. You are paying, you are signing - you get some say and right to info. My 19 year old likes to states every 5 seconds "I am an adult!" (not especially well received by me as I write a large check for her to spend 6 months in Argentina). My 24 your old (who lives at home with us, unemployed and clinically depressed) counters with "you are not an adult until you are living on your own and paying your own bills"

In the best cases moving towards adulthood is progressively bigger steps, learning from failures and mistakes - with a safety net of Mom and/or Dad used with less frequency (but it is sure nice to know it is there).

Hope she enjoys the Boston area -
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Old Jul 2nd, 2010, 05:39 AM
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Weadles,

It's not unusual for her to be shown around by the apartment manager. That's part of their job. She may never even meet the landlord. As far as utilities go--I assume that she'll be billed directly for whatever she pays (heat, electricity), and will call the utility companies to put the accounts in her name effective on her move in date.

The rent sounds good for the area, so no problems with that. Glad she likes the apartment--is she now looking for roommates?

Monthly cost of the extras depends so much on how well the building is insulated, size, use, and type of heating fuel.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2010, 06:22 AM
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Yes, it still sounds reasonable. Especially if it's nicely kept. I think she should go for it.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2010, 07:27 AM
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Thank you, Gail! I have a 22-year-old and 19-year-old, both of whom DO ask for our advice/help from time to time. IF they could both totally pay their own way, I would not be asking any of the questions above.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2010, 08:19 AM
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Weadles,

I too think $1800/m sounds reasonable.

Is this an apt building but with apts owned by different owners? Or is it one owner (eg, a company) that owns the entire building?

If it's the former, does the property manager seem to know the actual landlord? Perhaps your daughter can ask the property manager for more details.

Another Q, if something breaks in the apt, who does she contact for repair? The manager or the landlord?

Also, sounds like your daughter won't have a car, but what's the parking situation? Is there a parking garage in the building? If you or other people come visit, where can you park your car?

REgarding cost of heat - how is the apt heated? Generally speaking, an apt costs less to heat because it's better insulated than a single-family home. As for electricity, our electric bill is fairly low but we work hard to conserve energy. We use about 9KwH a day (a 3BR condo) and our electric bill is around $40-50/month. We rarely turn on the A/C unless it's >90F.
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