Off Campus Living in Somerville, MA

With one foot in Somerville and the other in Medford, Tufts University has a great relationship with its twin homes. Which is good, considering how many Tufts students opt to live off-campus rather than in dormitories. If you’re thinking of living off-campus in Somerville, MA while attending Tufts, read on: we’re talking to students all across Greater Boston who’ve made the choice to live off-campus. We hope that by sharing their experiences, current or prospective students who are considering off-campus housing in Somerville will be able to make an informed, educated decision. With that said, let’s get to it!

What school do you attend?


I’m in my junior year… I think. I switched majors – from Mechanical Engineering to Environmental Health – so I might be a bit behind. It’s still in the school of Engineering, so I should hopefully still graduate in four years.

Fingers crossed. (laughs)


So first of all, what made you decide to live off-campus?

Couple things. First, it’s the numbers. Living on-campus costs like, $7,000-$8,000 for the year. Summer’s not included, so that works out to something like $900 a month. But you also have to use their meal plan, which is like, $6,500 over the same period of time. That’s like, seven hundred bucks a month! I don’t know what you pay for groceries and whatnot, but I promise you: I’m not paying anything close to that. More like half.

So you do a lot of cooking for yourself, then?

Kindof? I mean (laughs), do ramen noodles count? Microwave veggie burgers? One of my roommates cooks sometimes – they come from a big family, so they only really know how to make these big, huge dishes – and that’s pretty great. But for the most part, we each just take care of our own stuff. I eat out, and I’ll still grab lunch on-campus most of the time. But it’s nice to have the option, you know?

How many roommates do you have?

There’s three of us all together. One other student from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts, and then our third roommate who just graduated.

Nice. So tell us about your new place.

Sure! It’s a three-bedroom place in Union Square. It’s $2,400 a month, so $800 when you split it three ways, so a little less than on-campus. There’s utilities, though, and that’s like another hundred bucks or so. But lemme tell you, what we get for that? Beats the heck out of our old dorm room.

Were the three of you roommates in the dorms?

Nope, just classmates. When you live off-campus, you get to pick who your roommates are.

I take it you had some less-than-great experiences with your old roommates.

You could say that. Probably nothing you want to put on your blog, let’s put it that way.

Point taken. Shifting gears, you said that you live in Union Square?

That’s right!

Would you recommend it to other Tufts Students?

In a heartbeat. Union Square is a legit destination, you know? Not like “campus activity” hip – people come from all over to hang out here, and we get to live in the middle of it. S’pretty wild. All the good restaurants are in Union Square.

All the good restaurants?

My favorite ones anyway! So all the ones that matter (laughs)! It’s all good though. I do Crossfit, and Crossfit Somerville is right there. So, you know…

With your gym nearby, you can get away with indulging yourself a bit more?


You get it.

How do you get to school? Do you have a car?

One of my roommates does, and we both ride up for classes most mornings. Sometimes I’ll just take the bus, it’s fine. I take the 87 to the 94, and that gets me to campus with time to spare. Being in Union Square, even though we’re kind of on the outskirts of it, means we don’t need to go out of our way for most stuff.

So would you say that your neighborhood is a good place for Tufts students?

Definitely. The energy is right, you know? It’s a good match. Bars, restaurants, one of my roommates is super into Hub Comics which is right around the corner. There’s a ton of fun stuff here, and people just have… I dunno, energy? They’re excited, and that’s infectious.

On the whole, how has living off-campus while attending Tufts been for you?

For me? Immaculate. Perfect. Fabulous. Other, um, good adjectives (laughs). For real, though: when I switched majors, I figured I’d take some summer classes to smooth it out, you know? Rentals are year-long out here in the real world. So I didn’t have to make any special arrangements or anything. It’s About a half hour to campus by bus, maybe half that when we drive? Though parking is a whole thing some days. Still, it’s basically the same amount of time to get to Downtown Boston, you know? Just in case our extremely hip neighborhood wasn’t, I dunno, trendy enough on a given day.

Is that a common problem?

Never (laughs). Somerville’s like the indie band that you get super into before they get big, you know?Everybody knows all the spots in Boston. But ’round here, it’s kind of like our little secret, you know? Stuff like Juliet, or Backbar. If you know, then you know. And if you don’t, then you can catch up in a year or two. Plus, there’s Union Square Donuts.

Big fan, I take it?

Best donuts in the world.

We’ll pass, thanks. Any final thoughts about living off-campus in Somerville?

For sure. First off, I know the rent looks high. But you’ve gotta factor in stuff like the meal plans when you’re making a budget. I had two roommates in the dorms, and I have two roommates now: but we’ve got a ton more space, and we’re not really paying any more.

Secondly, you do wanna be pretty independent, otherwise you’re going to learn things the hard way. Nobody’s gonna clean up after you. You don’t want to be a bad roommate, right? So be considerate of others. Lastly,figure out what you wanna be close to. Maybe pick something closer to campus if that’s a big deal to you. And if you’re out here like we are, be sure to plan extra time to get to class – you don’t wanna be late because of traffic! So give yourself a little cushion.

Other Than that, have fun! You’re in college: now’s the time to try new things. And Somerville’s a great place to find new, interesting stuff.

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