Living Off-Campus

Support is provided whether you live on- or off-campus.

New York apartments by Karla Alexander on Unsplash

A number of students may decide that living off-campus is their preference. No matter where you are, you are Harvard. You not only represent Harvard in the world, but you also benefit from the extended network and resources of this institution.

Testing While Living Off-Campus 

Test swabHarvard College undergraduates living off-campus are expected to test regularly.

Residential Affiliation

College buildingIf you decide to move off-campus after living in a House community, you have the choice of either affilating with your House or joining the Dudley Community. For first-year students, who move off-campus in their sophomore year before living a House, they are affiliated with Dudley from that point forward. Both the Houses and the Dudley Communty offer strong support networks for students in terms of advising, resources, and personal support. No matter where you're located, you can count on this team of people to be available and ready to help you.

Additional Resources and Opportunities

City buildingsActive enrollment and your Harvard University ID (HUID) provide the following:

Rights and Responsibilities

Person helping another personWe ask that you support each other and the communities where you find yourselves living this academic year. Embrace the idea that Harvard exists everywhere that you are, stretching across the geographic distances. Whether you are living on campus or elsewhere, take seriously the values that animate our learning and standards of student conduct that are outlined in the Handbook for Students. You are an ambassador and representative of our community, which is why our Harvard Community standards apply to all enrolled students.
 
Pay particular attention to the University guidance and public health guidelines (see the guidelines for Massachusetts and Cambridge as examples). Be a responsible member of your community by wearing face coverings, maintaining appropriate physical distance from others, and avoiding gatherings where the virus may spread. Keep yourself healthy as well as those around you. 3-layer ‘procedure masks’ are required when accessing indoor spaces on campus, and are available to members of the FAS community who are accessing campus, free of cost. Individuals who wish to use face coverings other than the FAS-issued masks are welcome to do so, at their own expense, as long as the filtration protection is greater than or equal to the FAS-issued face coverings. Students living off-campus can find masks available to them at their House building managers' offices, or at the Yard Operations Center (for Dudley Community students). 

Finances and Budgeting

Calculator and budgetLiving off campus may mean you're managing numerous expenses for the first time (rent, heat, gas, electricity, parking, internet/cable, insurance, etc.), or that you're responsible for establishing accounts like utilities. Know what is included in your lease and what you are responsible for. Be sure to plan ahead, pay your bills on time, and communicate regularly with your landlord and roommates. Harvard University Employees Credit Union offers personal finance workshops and financial wellness resources. If you have questions or your circumstances have changed and you need to have your finanical aid package re-evaluated, contact the Griffin Financial Aid Office at faoinfo@fas.harvard.edu.

Engaging in your Neighborhood

Two neighborsOne of the benefits of being away from campus is the opportunity to explore a new neighborhood and build community. Your interactions with your neighbors should be guided by the the Harvard College Handbook:

It is the expectation of the College that all students, whether or not they are on campus or are currently enrolled as degree candidates, will behave in a mature and responsible manner. This expectation for mature and responsible conduct also encompasses accountability for one’s own well-being, including responsible decision-making regarding physical and mental health. Further, the College expects every student to be familiar with the regulations governing membership in the Harvard community, set forth in the pages that follow. Because students are expected to show good judgment and use common sense at all times, not all kinds of misconduct or behavioral standards are codified here. The College takes all these diverse principles very seriously; together they create a foundation for the responsible, respectful society that Harvard seeks to foster among its students, faculty, and staff.

Mutual respect, cooperation, and good communication with your neighbors are the best tools for preventing conflicts.

We also hope you will embrace being a citizen leader in the world by engaging in your community: explore it, shop locally, volunteer, and vote.

Search for Housing

Apartment buildings and treesApartments in Cambridge and Boston are expensive and the hunt for the right space can be frustrating. While many online search tools are available (apartments.comcraiglist.org, etc.), you can also work with a property management company for a fee. Students who are veterans, married, or have children may be eligible for Harvard-affiliated housing through Harvard University Housing (HUH)

Before you begin your search, consider:

  • Where you want to live
  • Whether you'll have roommates, and how many
  • What space needs you have: bedrooms, bathrooms, parking, furniture, etc.
  • What you can afford to pay

When you find the apartment you want, be prepared to pay a security deposit, plus your first and last month's rent. Most leases in the Boston area run from September 1 to August 31.

Leasing / Renting

Contract and pencilA lease is a binding legal contract between you and the property owner or landlord. The lease protects both the landlord and the tenant by stating the terms of the agreement, which include the rental price, the number of tenants and the time period that you will reside in the apartment. When you sign a lease, you are obligated to pay the landlord monthly for the duration of the lease. Most leases are for 12 months and are difficult to break, so make certain it is the apartment you want. It is strongly suggested that you read and understand everything in the contract before you sign.

Consult with your local government and state attorney general for further guidance on your rights as a tenant. Cambridge offers housing resources, and Massachusetts' Attorney General has published information for renters/tenants, including a Guide to Landlord/Tenant Rights.

Health and Safety

Pay particular attention to public health guidelines (see the guidelines for Massachusetts and Cambridge as examples). Be a responsible member of your community by wearing face coverings, maintaining appropriate physical distance from others, and avoiding gatherings where the virus may spread. Keep yourself healthy as well as those around you.  3-layer ‘procedure masks’ are required indoors on campus, and are available to members of the College community, free of cost. Individuals who wish to use face coverings other than the FAS-issued masks are welcome to do so, at their own expense, as long as the filtration protection is greater than or equal to the FAS-issued face coverings. Masks are available from House building managers or from the Yard Operations Center (for the Dudley Community). 

Police BadgeIf you live off-campus, you must take greater responsibility for your personal safety. The Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) offers practical tips for staying safe no matter where you are located. Check with your local police department as well for any specific local resources. In the United States, 911 is the universal number to call for any emergency.

You may also want to consider renter's insurance to cover your personal property from fire, theft, and acts of nature, and/or liability coverage. Popular online sources include College Student Renters InsuranceesuranceNational Student Services, and Worth Ave. Group.

Trash and Recycling

Recycling barrelYou are responsible for knowing when and how to dispose of your waste. Many communities require recycling and/or composting, including the City of Cambridge. If it's not spelled out in your lease, ask your landlord for guidance.

For Neighbors and Community Members

If you are a community member with any concerns related to Harvard College students, you are welcome to contact our Office of Academic Integrity and Student Conduct.

Harvard offers an anonymous reporting hotline where you may voice concerns. Harvard University Police can also help direct you to resources.

Staff Contacts