We think housing is really important. After all, your grad school experience will depend a lot on where you live, and who you live with. We also know that it can be a bit tricky for incoming students to find themselves good living situations, especially if they're coming from interstate or overseas.
So, here's some information to help you as you plan:
If you're looking for a non-shared apartment (such as a studio or non-bedroom, or apartment for a family), Craig's List has a wide range of fee-free apartments. In Cambridge, it's usual for a realtor to charge a full month's rent as the fee for helping you find a place. Obviously, you'd prefer to avoid this fee if you could -- and that's where Craig's List comes in. For those of you at Harvard, Harvard Housing also maintains a database of available non-Harvard apartments in the area, and most of them are fee-free too. Unfortunately, you have to use the Harvard intranet or go into their office in Harvard Square to access the database.
If you're looking for roommates and an apartment, and you'd prefer to live with other Christians, a good resource is the web board at Park Street Church. Similarly, you may like to sign up for the "Random" email list at Cambridge Vineyard church, as you'll also receive a lot of roommate listings that way.
If you're unsure about locations, you'll find that most people
prefer to live within a 15-20 minute commute from school. [For those
of you at Harvard, that usually means living within walking distance
of Harvard Square, Central Square, Porter Square (all of these are in
Cambridge) or Davis Square (in Somerville), or possibly in a small area
of Allston around the Harvard Business School (usually described as
North Allston, sometimes confusingly described as Brighton). ]
If you're seeking second hand furniture, Craig's List strikes again. They have a wide and swiftly changing variety of items available, often very cheap. Of course, if you have the luxury of getting here a bit early, you may do well by buying from other students who are leaving - students tend to discard their stuff (often very good stuff) extremely cheaply when they move away. You may be able to negotiate to buy furniture from the previous occupant of your apartment too.