International Students

BU International Students & Scholars Hub , links to International Students and Scholars Office .

Reviewing this information before your housing search will save you time, effort and money.

Options to consider

  • Are you seeking a studio, one bed or two bed apartment?  Furnished apartment?  Few apartments are furnished.  Renting furniture is an option.
  • Do you want roommates or live on your own?  Living with roommates saves money plus it could make the cultural transition easier.
  • What neighborhoods interest you?  Pick two or three choice locations by studying Boston and its neighborhoods.  The Medical Campus is in the South End.
  • Are realtor services necessary?  It is often helpful to work with a realtor who can show you various types of apartments.  They have cars, know the city and will drive you to visit apartments and see the neighborhood.  You can schedule appointments with them prior to your arrival.  Realtors will assist you through the leasing process and will charge a finder’s fee of one month’s rent if you lease the apartment they found for you.
  • Can you begin the search process from afar? Preview apartments over the internet.  Use Google Maps to determine the distance to Boston University Medical Campus, 710 Albany Street, Boston MA 02118

Never send money to rent an apartment you have not seen in person.

Are you looking for housing, and are a borrower of MPower Financing Loans, you may want to look at special options through the 4Stay website.

Documents necessary to rent an apartment

  • Copy of your passport/visa
  • I-20
  • Social Security Number (SSN) if you have one.
  • Proof of good credit history.  Landlords may consider looking at your current banking statement or a letter written on your behalf from your banker in your home country.
  • Boston University letter of acceptance
  • A statement with the name of the guarantor or co-signor who is prepared to sign as a financially responsible US citizen or permanent resident willing and able to pay the rent during the lease period.
To begin,

Before renting an apartment

  • Read about housing styles, costs, lease terms, parking and transportation and more About Boston Rentals
  • See Leases – Renting Essentials for information and questions to ask prior to applying for an apartment.
  • Boston Office of Housing Stability offers information for Boston student renters: Renting in Boston Guide
  • YOU MUST visit the apartment and meet the landlord before signing a lease.
  • Usually landlords require a payment equal to three month’s rent – applied to the first, last and another month, for a security deposit, with the signing of the lease.
  • Read Commonly Used Lease and Rental Terms.
  • Some landlords may require a SSN but most international students do not have one.  However, it is the landlord’s right to decide to accept a student without one.
  • Do not pay rent and other rent related payments with cash.
  • Most apartments are rented unfurnished so you may need to purchase the furniture or rent furniture from a furniture rental company.  Visit Apartment Essentials for other resources.
  • Know what utilities (electricity, internet, cable, heat, hot water) are included in the rent.  For utilities not included, get an estimate of annual charges from the utility supplier.  You need to know the total cost of your housing expense each month.
  • In addition to utilities, you will need to pay for laundry service if the apartment does not include a washer/dryer.  Plus, you are responsible for cleaning your apartment so if you choose a cleaning service, that will add to your living expenses.

Be Aware of Scams!

While rare, BU students have fallen prey to nefarious scammers. International students are especially targeted for such scams. However, all students should be aware of the possible signs of a housing scam.

BU Today, in collaboration with BU Police, provides  troubleshooting tools about how to avoid housing scams.

If something sounds too good to be true, it likely is. Contact Housing Resources ( if you have any concerns that you encountered a housing scam.

What you need to know when signing an apartment lease

  • Learn about the language of apartment leases in Commonly Used Lease and Rental Terms section.
  • A lease is a legally binding document, whereby you are accepting all the terms and conditions once you sign it. Read it thoroughly.
  • Before signing any lease, you should understand everything in it.
  • Discuss concerns and questions you have with the landlord.  Both you and the landlord must initial and date any changes.
  • Be sure you receive a copy of the lease signed by the landlord within 30 days of your signing.

Never wire money or pay a deposit for a rental you have not seen in person.

What you need to know about banking to secure an apartment

Two primary types of banking accounts in the U.S.

  • checking
  • savings

Documents you must have to open an account

  • Passport
  • A second form of identification (ID), a Boston University ID is acceptable.
  • Proof of your United States address shown on:
    • apartment lease
    • utility bill
    • copy of your Boston University registration.
  • F-1, F-2, J-1 and J-2 Visa holders are not required to provide a SSN to banks or other financial institutions.
  • You may request that the bank provide you with “IRS Form W-3, Certificate of Foreign Status”.  Once this form has been completed and filed, the bank will open an account in your name without a SSN.
  • You may use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number to open a bank account if you have one.
  • You cannot open an account via phone or Internet.  You must visit the bank.

Important Links:

BU International Students & Scholars Office

Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles

US Citizenship and Immigration Services

US Department of State