As I have alluded to here once already, I’m finding it damn near impossible to find a place to live in Boston for September 1st. Facing the prospect of finding myself without a place to live, I’m forced to consider some rather drastic actions. First, a little background:
Back in Chicago, I had my own large studio apartment in Lincoln Park, half a block away from the lakefront in a reasonably well-maintained building in a very desireable neighborhood. I was paying $530 a month in rent, a good deal for that particular neighborhood but about average for Chicago in general. And I didn’t have to jump through any hoops, kiss anybody’s ass, or otherwise compete with 50 other people to get it.
Here in Boston, I’m paying $650 a month for a single bedroom in a filthy, roach-infested apartment building in Brookline where the landlord has performed no maintenance whatsoever. He’s converting the living room into a fifth bedroom and jacking up the rent by $700 this September, so we’re all moving out. I still haven’t found a new place yet, and prospective roommates act like they’re doing me a personal favor by even returning my phone call. And if you have the slightest blemish on your credit report, forget about it. (Apparently all 3 million people in Boston have perfect credit.) Boston has its charm, but no city is worth the hell you have to go through just to find a place to live around here.
Right now I’m in the midst of starting school at the Boston Architectural Center (I’m a transfer student from the University of Illinois at Chicago). I came to the BAC because their program is set up so that students work full-time during the day at architecture firms and take their classes in the evening. It’s one of only very few schools of architecture in the US that follow that format, and it allows me to do what I was trying to do unsucessfully for five years in Chicago, that is, go to school and be able to pay the rent at the same time.
Problem is, Boston is so ridiculously overpriced that I’m already making plans to pack my backs and head back home to Chicago. I plan on turning in my two-weeks notice at work on the 25th if I don’t have a signed lease in my hand by then. Since Boston apparently wants to become an overpriced yuppie theme park instead of a real city, I sure as hell won’t get in their way. I figure it’s Boston’s loss, not mine. I have friends I can stay with in Chicago until I’m able to find an inexpensive apartment there and get back on my feet again. (With a close-knit community of friends like that in Chicago, I’m amazed that I was even able to bring myself to say goodbye to them in the first place.)
Once I’m in Chicago, I’ll probably take some evening classes at the City Colleges and try once again to get admitted into the Illinois Institute of Technology (really my first choice of school, but I didn’t get admitted on my first try). If that doesn’t work, then I may be willing to try my luck in Philadelphia…
I was just doing a little research on other architecture schools in the US, and it turns out the school of architecture at Drexel University in Philly has a very similar format as the Boston Architectural Center. A few things I’m curious about: How is the cost of living in Philly and how hard is it to get an apartment? What neighborhoods would you reccomend if I wanted to be convenient to Drexel as well as Center City via rapid transit? (I don’t have a car and have no desire to get one.) How long does it take to get to NYC from Philly by train and about how much does it cost each way? I’m sure the housing situation can’t be nearly as bad as Boston’s, and Philly is also much closer to New York (another big plus — I have many friends in NYC including some people here on SubTalk). I’ve never been to Philly before, I don’t know a thing about the city, and I don’t know a single person there. But I’ve always been a bit curious to check it out, and from what I know about Philly, it seems like a very real, down-to-earth city not unlike my hometown of Chicago.
Any thoughts? (You’re welcome to contact me via private e-mail if you wish.) Sorry if I seem to be coming down a bit hard on Boston here, but I’m just about at my wit’s end.
(originally posted on the SubTalk forum at nycsubway.org)