Apartment Vocab. 101 – pt. 1

Boston calls! The apartment search has begun and you have started downloading all the apartment apps you could find. You have scoured numerous Craigslist postings and found a good but obscure apartment site called Rent Cafe, and are now thinking of calling a few and getting some more information. But wait! Before you do, please read the apartment vocab below.

Because just like in school, the vocab was dry to get through but always helped in the log run!

*p.s. The following vocab is in the “foundation” to “working” knowledge order, apologies to those alphabetical folks!

Apartment Vocab 101:


A living space that can range from a studio to a 4 bedroom (rare 5 bedroom)

    • Can take many forms: standalone building with a few separate rooms, a room in a larger complex, a condo in a building owned by an individual, you name it and it probably exists.
    • The possibility of it being in a brownstone building that has super old plumbing and heating is fairly likely since Boston is an old town.
    • The front entrances will mainly have a locked main door that leads to a foyer or can open directly into your apartment
    • Can be run by a Landowner (see below) or a Building Management company (see below)
      • You can sign a lease for an apartment from either of these two
      • Real estate agent (or broker/ see below) can help connect you to owners and will try to get you to fill out the paperwork through them. This can work but just verify with the owner before you fork over any cash.
    • In Boston, some listings will say apartment, but they will be a room inside a house. If this isn’t what you want just be aware!

Landowner/ Lease owner:

Civilian/Business owner who runs a building, house, or portion of the housing and handles all the leasing and renting out of the apartments

  • Normally 1-2 people running the business (can be a family business).
  • They may have a maintenance crew on staff.
  • The term can be used for both apartments and houses
  • They can be either the best or the worst, often have differing leases and make sure to cover your self and read the lease thoroughly.

Building Management:

A company that owns a building and has a management staff that handles the daily operations and an on-staff management crew

  • Term applies to apartments and apartment complexes
  • You will normally work with an agent on staff to fill out your paper work for the lease
  • Many building managements companies are able to do virtual walkthroughs if you are unable to see the location

Apartment Complexes

Apartments that are stacked together to make small communities that tend to offer better amenities than traditional apartments

  • A rare sight in a city as old as Boston
  • They do exist in South Boston (pricey most of the time) and in Chelsea (cheaper but not the best area/ further from the city)
  • Have more amenities: pool, gym, central air and heat (yes this is a luxury), a shared common space, and occasionally will have a playground for children.
  • Can be more expensive than other apartments, but it is a trade off for the convenience and newer amenities
  • Real Estate Agent
    • They are all over the place!
    • If you are on the or train, then you will find that most of your inquiries will be answered by agents.
    • The agent’s license is easy to get in Boston and many young people will get it and make helping people find apartments their side or main hustle.
    • They can be either helpful or kind of negative, so don’t let them tell you things like:
      • “That price range isn’t possible in this city”
      • “If you want it, send me a deposit now and I can hold it”
    • There are some Real Estate Agencies that have very specific listing that are not online. This can be an advantage.
    • Many times they will find the room you want under the specifics you desire and the owner of the building/house pays the broker’s fee (see definition on part 2)

By kimejsims

A graduate student in book publishing in Boston and aspiring reader of as many books as possible!

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