As Aug. 1 and Sept. 1 deadlines for moving into new apartments loom, all too many apartment hunters in Greater Boston know that units aren't just expensive – they can be a big hassle and time-waster to get in and see to make a decision about where to live.
“We find that a lot of people spend 10 or 20 hours browsing online, but only get to see a couple of apartments” because it’s such a hassle to schedule visiting times with landlords and tenants, said Matthew Boyes-Watson, co-founder of Jumpshell.com. “You actually want to go visit that apartment? That's when a lot of time-wasting comes in, sending emails, waiting for responses, phone calls, coordinating times. So we handle all of that.”
One day recently, we tagged along as Boyes-Watson helped Will Ford and Jessie Williamson and two friends do in 60 minutes what often takes Boston apartment hunters a week to pull off: Actually set foot inside four different potential apartments in and around the Inman Square neighborhood of Cambridge. Working with landlords, apartment owners, and rental agents, Jumpshell.com sets up walking tours for apartment seekers defined by how big an apartment they want, where, and at what price range.
So, for example, “you can come to the South End and see several one-beds, all in the space of about 45 minutes,” Boyce-Watson said. Or, you could look at four or five or six two-bedroom apartments in Roxbury, or studio apartments in Charlestown.
“I was a little bit annoyed with Craigslist. You have to deal with a ton of different Realtors. It takes a lot of time. Someone said there was this website that put it all in one place, so I checked it out, and it seemed pretty cool,” Ford said of his apartment search. “I don't know yet quite about money, but definitely, it's saved me a ton of time. You can see multiple apartments, all in one afternoon, or even an hour or so.”
Williamson said: “There's a direct correlation between time and money, especially these days. Taking off work” to accommodate an opening to see an apartment “means that I'm not always getting paid for the time that I'm not there.”
One thing Jumpshell can’t solve for you: The sky-high cost of rentals in Boston, rivalled by many accounts only by New York and San Francisco. But, Boyes-Watson said, he’s been finding people who use the service come to feel they are getting much better value from spending $2,000 or $3,000 a month on an apartment when they’ve seen multiple examples of just what $2,000 or $3,000 gets you in and around Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville. It’s a service that can leave you reassured, even if you feel like you’re wildly overspending for your apartment rental, you've got some confidence there wasn't a much better option you could have snagged for that level of monthly rent.
“When we let people come and see several apartments that match what their criteria are all at once, they can make a better-informed decision than if they're seeing one apartment and sort of making a guess,” Boyes-Watson said.
With videographers Sean G. Colahan and Daniel J. Ferrigan.