An MSW Student’s Tips for Relocating to Boston

students moving into an apartment
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

By Krystal K. (MSW’23)

I moved from Georgia to Malden, Massachusetts specifically for BU School of Social Work’s MSW program. In case you were wondering, that’s about 1,000 miles from point A to point B, and some of you may be trekking across even longer distances. If you’re reading this, you may be in the exact place that I was back when I was accepted: nervous and overwhelmed by the journey ahead of you. I hope sharing my tips for relocating to Boston as a graduate student will help make your transition easier. 

Massachusetts has 4 distinct seasons.

You can experience apple-picking in autumn, snow cover in winter, breezy springs, and beach-worthy summers. Make sure you have a good winter coat, rain jacket, and warm, waterproof shoes. I bought my winter coat on sale over the summer and I’m really grateful I did. 

Traveling 10 miles in Boston takes far more time than 10 miles in Georgia.

I had the privilege of bringing my car with me, so I could choose apartment options that were not completely reliant on public transportation. However, you’ll be spending a lot of time commuting regardless of how you get around. One way to find possible neighborhoods is to map out how long your commute to campus will be at various times during the day, either by car or public transportation. You may also want to consider certain trade-offs to a convenient location. For instance, I found that the further away from the city you go, the more apartment features and square footage you get for the price point. 

If you can, take a trip to Boston over the summer to check out apartments in advance.

Before you go, research some neighborhoods you’d like to check out. I started by making a list of the features I absolutely needed and those I’d be willing to sacrifice, before looking at BU’s off-campus housing options and  to find potential places. I felt less stressed knowing where I was going to live ahead of time. If you can’t make it to Boston before your move, satellite and street views on online maps will give you a closer look.

It’s okay if you don’t have every piece of furniture before you move in.

There are plenty of Curb Alert (free items people leave on the curb) Facebook pages and thrift stores with great options that encourage reusing furniture. I originally bought a coffee table, but replaced it with an even better one I found on the curb.

Be kind to yourself as you adjust to life in a new place.

Boston’s rich history offers all sorts of sights to visit when you have some time to spare, but city life is something you’ll have to adjust to if you haven’t lived in a city recently. Also, remember that becoming a grad student means making adjustments no matter where you go to school.   

You don’t have to know everything before moving here.

You’ll learn so much along the way. You’ll meet so many people in the program and everyone has something to share about Boston. I hope these tips are helpful! If you need more information, please  email the Student Ambassadors at

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Krystal K. (MSW’23) is a second-year clinical MSW student, with a specialization in Children, Youth, and Families. 

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