As what’s likely to be the hottest August ever recorded in Boston comes to a close and September rears its hopefully cooler head, throngs of students are once again descending on the city.
With upwards of a quarter-million college students studying in the Greater Boston area, Sept. 1 has become the go-to move-in day for tens of thousands. Some are seasoned veterans of moving in Boston, but even more are new to the city, navigating our winding streets and low bridges for the first time. Mistakes, like the act of “Storrowing” your rental truck, are bound to happen. Here are some tips to help you get into the city and settled so you can hit the books.
Reserve Parking for your Moving Truck Early
Secure parking space for your van or truck by obtaining a street occupancy permit. The permit saves you from unwanted parking tickets, guarantees you convenient space to load/unload your vehicle, and is a valued courtesy to your neighbors.
Permits are available at City Hall, and are available during business hours (9:00 AM – 5:00PM). Start at the Transportation Department in room 721 of City Hall, and make sure to bring any parking meter-head numbers at the location and payment (check; money order; or a Visa, Mastercard, Discover debit or credit card).
Wait times are typically 15 minutes, but can push an hour or more during the summer months when everyone’s moving. Get your permit up to 2 weeks before your moving date to avoid the rush.
The city of Boston recommends you do your research before hiring a moving company. Moving scams are not unheard of. The city suggests keeping a list of everything you pack, and making sure you understand your contract, including payment, before signing anything.
Renting a moving truck
If you haven’t booked your truck yet, you very well may be out of luck. Truck rentals for September 1 go quickly, oftentimes months in advance. If you’re ready to spend hours on the phone looking for one, you may find one, but only if you start right away. If you have other transportation available, it may be possible to find a vehicle outside of Greater Boston. Cast a wide geographic net while making your calls.
Beware of getting ‘Storrowed’
Despite how many times we say it or plaster it on warning signs, inevitably some poor sap will peel open the top of their rental truck on one of Storrow Drive’s low bridges, scattering its contents across the roadway.
While Storrow may be the most notorious offender, Memorial Drive in Cambridge can be just as hazardous. But the Charles River roads aren’t the only places rental trucks should fear to tread. Your Google Maps or Waze apps may not know you’re in a taller vehicle. Luckily, there are specific navigation apps for trucks that will allow you to set your vehicle’s height and get a customized route that should be safe for travel. TeleType’s SmartTruckRoute app is one of them, and being based on School Street in Boston means they should have a pretty good idea how to navigate the city.
If you’re looking to reserve a parking spot for your moving truck, it must be done in advance. Monday was the deadline to obtain a permit in time for Sept. 1 so if you haven’t reserved a spot yet, you may be out of luck. The good news is that permits like these aren’t required, but be prepared to jostle for position and deal with parking tickets if you must park illegally.
If you do have a permit, it is good for two spaces between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. You must post signs on the street at least two days before moving day, and obviously you must be reserving only legal parking spaces. The whole thing will cost you just over $100.
Remember, you won’t be the only truck heading into the city this year. 907 permits were pulled for Sept. 1 this year, with another 550 for August 31.
To help facilitate a smoother move-in process, many neighborhoods have temporary parking and traffic restrictions during the week of September 1. A complete list can be found on the City of Boston’s website.
If you’re moving into a dormitory, check with your school about the move-in process. Many dorms have an organized system to get vehicles in and unloaded, and some will even provide helpful staffers and upperclassmen to help out.
Speak to your landlord or realtor before moving to find out what moving restrictions apply to your new apartment. There is nothing worse than camping out in your moving van for five hours because you can’t begin the process of carrying that couch up the stairs until noon.
Trash and ‘Allston Christmas’
The city of Boston’s Trash Day app will let you know what day the garbage collection is in your neighborhood. It also provides customized notifications and information on recyclable materials.
One thing to watch for: bedbugs. The hitchhiking insects would love nothing more than come home with you and feast on you and your loved ones. That discarded couch or end table may look like a nice addition to your apartment, but it could easily be infested, so officials advise against taking part in the “Allston Christmas” tradition. City workers often affix bright stickers to discarded items and distribute flyers and other informational packets to students and new residents.
There isn’t anywhere in Boston that is immune to infestations, so bringing home that Beacon Hill arm chair may be just as dangerous as taking that Brighton barstool. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Other tenant issues
Both tenants and landlords in the state of Massachusetts must abide by the law. Most rental properties in Boston are required to be inspected once every five years to make sure they comply with state housing codes. The city of Boston and its Office of Housing Stability offer a litany of resources for the Boston renter. Know your rights, and your landlord’s obligations.
Boston 311 is the city’s platform to report non-emergency issues and request city services and information. Residents can ask for an apartment inspection, report improperly stored trash, or call with any questions they may have. The line open 24 hours a day, and also available via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @bos311, and as a smartphone app on iOS and Android.