Picture it: The last Thursday of August, one short day away from an extended holiday weekend that could be spent adventuring through Boston, lounging in the sand down the Cape, or simply relaxing in your own home after a warm, satisfying summer. But instead of preparing yourself for some well-deserved R&R, you find yourself stuffing a suitcase with clothes you’ve never worn and knickknacks you don’t remember ever purchasing, steeling yourself for a day of moving madness. Welcome to September 1st in Boston, or as it is affectionately known: Allston Christmas.
From NECN to the Boston Globe, coverage of this chaotic spectacle draws eyes every year. The reports vary: from informative titles such as “The massive move-in extravaganza of ‘Allston Christmas,’ explained” to the humorously ominous “It Has Begun,” reporters from all over the Boston area know about this hectic phenomenon, and want a front-row seat to the madness as it unfolds.
Roughly 70% of Boston’s annual rental leases turn over from September 1st to September 14th every year, allowing for the influx of thousands of Boston college students who are making their way back to the city for the fall semester – the city streets become parking lots for trucks and vans, the sidewalks become homes for abandoned mattresses, and any semblance of order quickly deflates.
Students at any of Boston’s 25 four-year colleges and universities have traditionally made up one of the most significant chunks of renters in the city, with their numbers increasing exponentially over the past decade or so. As a result, Boston’s landlords have adopted the September-to-September lease cycle, binding tenants to a schedule that is perfect for college students, and challenging for most other Boston renters.
With more than 200,000 students at colleges and universities across the Boston area, 36,000 of them are renting apartments and even entire houses in neighborhoods all across the city – and this doesn’t even take into account those at MIT and Harvard across the Charles. Overall, these students are spread over 13,000 buildings and rentals across the city, mostly focused in areas such as Allston-Brighton, the Fenway, Mission Hill, and the South End.
Even neighborhoods that house a minimal student population and cater mostly to young professionals follow a similar pattern: nearly 80% of rentals in Beacon Hill turn over every September. However, many landlords are beginning to branch out, experimenting with leases starting in other months, such as June 1 or April 1.
That said, it’s more than likely that September 1st is going to remain the infamous “Boston Move In Day” for some time to come – the already massive number of Boston college students is only growing, having jumped 21% from 1995 to 2010.
So for those who don’t have to stress about the marathon that is moving in Boston, your best bet might just be avoiding the city at all costs on September 1st.