😅 9/1 apartment hunting starts now

Plus: 🌃 Northern Lights in Boston

It’s Monday, Boston.

🪩 Looking for some free weekend plans? We’re giving away a pair of tickets to Boston Art Review’s very cool annual bash this Saturday (think: dance party vibes) to the first person who responds to this email. Ready … Set … GO!

👀 What’s on tap today:

  • Boston’s sky popped off

  • Commencement speakers find the words

  • A hill where physics don't apply

Up first…


Wake me up when Sept. 1 ends

Image: Matt Rourke/AP. Illustration: Gia Orsino.

It may only be May, but we’ve got Sept. 1 on the brain. Here’s why:

🏡 The time for renters to be looking for a 9/1 move-in is now. Amy Mueller, vice president of marketing at Apartment Advisor, a Cambridge-based apartment search and data platform, said around 50% of its Boston listings are for 9/1 availability, “and as is typical for this time of year, these apartments will move quickly.” Remember: The majority of Boston residents are renters, meaning the competition is fierce. 

🤷 Overall, Boston’s current rental market is up to its usual shenanigans. TL;DR: It’s still incredibly expensive and tight. According to data from Boston Pads, Boston’s apartment vacancy rate (i.e., the number of open units today) remains below 1%; the average rent (not including luxury buildings) is still over $3,000 a month; and the vast majority of landlords require tenants to pay those pesky broker fees. 

📉 But there’s a bright spot: Prices might finally be cooling off. The average monthly rent in Boston actually decreased in May, according to the same report. It only dipped a few bucks compared to April numbers ($3,267, down from $3,273), but Boston Pads CEO Demetrios Salpoglou can’t remember the last time he saw it decline. “That might be a little bit of a crack,” Salpoglou said. Apartment Advisor data also shows that “the rate of rent growth in Boston overall has slowed compared to previous years when we’ve seen double-digit, year-over-year rent inflation,” Mueller said.

😬 Average rental prices are still 20% higher compared to May 2022. Translation: The average Boston apartment is now $500 more a month. Apartment Advisor data also found that in Boston’s more affordable neighborhoods, rent inflation has outpaced the city’s average, with one-bedroom rents up 12.5% in Jamaica Plain, up 9.1% in Brighton, and up 8.3% in Roxbury. On the flip side, there’s also been some slight cooling in pricier neighborhoods like Downtown, the Seaport, and Southie.

🙋 Landing your dream unit is all in the timing. Salapoglou said listings for three-, four-, and five-bedroom units for a 9/1 move-in tend to hit the market earlier in the year (think: March and April) since landlords know it takes longer for a big group to form. “You might be late in many neighborhoods on a three- or four-bed,” Salapoglou said. Whereas studios and one-beds can trickle out later since it’s just one (maybe two) people making a decision. 

💡 Pro-tip: If you’re willing to gamble, the closer you are to Sept. 1, the better chance you can negotiate having your landlord pay part of the broker’s fee — if not the whole thing — Salapoglou said.


Looking to impress your foodie friends?

🍽️🍔 “I know the best spot in town for…” just became your new catchphrase. With Toast, simply search for whatever you’re craving and get countless recommendations for local joints — from takeout at Monica’s Mercato & Salumeria in the North End to a sit-down meal at the Seaport’s Row 34. Download the app now (or if you’re an owner looking to level up your restaurant, book a demo). Be warned: You might end up becoming the go-to “planner friend” in the group chat.


Quick & dirty headlines

Image: Charlie Peachey

🌠 Boston’s sky was giving big Norwegian energy this weekend. Courtesy of an unexpected solar storm, New Englanders were treated to a rare view of the aurora borealis a.k.a. Northern Lights. The display was utterly incredible, creating beautiful scenes of green, blue, and purple hues in the sky across New England (and even as far south as Alabama!). Pro photographers had a field day, capturing incredible pics from Dorchester to Mount Washington, as did B-Side’s own Emily Schario, whose iPhone somehow managed to capture these

🎓 Commencement speakers are trying to find the right words. In the weeks leading up to graduation season, protests over the war in Gaza have roiled local college campuses, leaving commencement speakers with a dilemma: Do they address the protests, which have led some schools to bar students from graduating, caused speakers to pull out, and have even ended in some ceremonies being canceled? Or do they focus on the event at hand, and leave the issue unspoken? Experts and speakers can’t seem to agree.

😅 Guster’s set at Somerville’s Porchfest was … something. The legendary indie band, who used to live down the street, made a celebrity appearance this weekend. And it looked like a mosh pit packed with hundreds of Millennials. The lo-fi setup and the exorbitant crowd of people led to quite a bit of difficulty seeing, or even hearing, the band. Plus, the set ended early due to a medical emergency in the crowd. 

🏙️ Boston’s rooftop bars are coming out to play. Enter: The Layover, a tropical bar which just opened on the rooftop of East Boston’s Cunard Tavern, followed by The Revere Hotel’s seasonal rooftop patio, which was unveiled last week. In other food and drink news: Juicy Greens, the fast-casual smoothie and salad spot, just opened a new location in Downtown Crossing, and Grace by Nia, the Seaport’s classic supper club, is opening a second location in Foxborough soon.


Weekday checklist

Image: Danielle Parhizkaran/The Boston Globe

🏆 Watch the B’s and C’s (hopefully) snag a W. There’s no better way to watch the playoffs than at The Anchor’s watch parties on Monday and Tuesday.

🎬 Catch a free movie in the fresh air. This Wednesday marks the beginning of a free summer movie series at The Speedway in collaboration with the Coolidge. The first flick? Bring It On.

💕 Speed date over tea. Or really, speed date over cocktails at the Tea Party Museum on Wednesday. Your ticket gets you two drink/food tickets, a chance to browse the museum, and several five-minute dates with new faces.

💃 Get your sweat on in the Seaport. As a part of their summer sweat series, the neighborhood is hosting free Zumba in the commons every Thursday. Just don’t forget to reserve your spot.

🕺 Spend Wednesday night in da club … completely sober. That’s exactly what’s going down at this Over The Influencer disco party aiming to redefine nightlife norms with an alcohol-free, early evening event.

🎉 Want more things to do recommendations? Refer five friends to unlock three bonus items. For those who already have, enjoy below.

🧑‍💻Work from home, away from home. The Boston Young Professionals Association is putting on a community coworking day in the Seaport on Wednesday. Bonus: the coffee’s free.

🛍️ Make happy hour even happier. Boston Landing’s Happy Hour Market at Broken Records is back on Wednesday with locally made products and art from several local makers. And yes, there will be cocktails.

😆See Boston’s funniest Black comedians. The Black Comedy Explosion is coming to the Carver Den every Wednesday night, including this week!


Together with Boston Calling

Enter to win a pair of 3-DAY VIP passes to Boston Calling from May 24 to May 26, a $2,400 value! If you have already referred a friend to B-Side (and they’ve accepted), you're eligible. Full details below*


Mass.’ Gravity hill

Illustration: Gia Orsino

There’s one place in Mass. where the rules of physics seemingly don’t apply. Allow us to introduce: Gravity Hill, a “hill” in Greenfield, where, when left to their own devices, cars, skateboards, and bikes seem to roll … up instead of down. You need to see it to believe it.

Some say it’s the ghosts of car crash victims past that push unsuspecting vehicles up the hill. But according to TikToker @joshopedia, the explanation is actually much simpler (and way less creepy) than that.

Due to a number of scientific-seeming factors like an unobstructed horizon and a very specific gradient-tilt, Gravity Hill is actually a unique optical illusion: It only looks like an uphill when, in fact, it’s a downhill. Check out his full video here.

— Written by Gia Orsino and Emily Schario

💃 Keep up with us @BostonBSide on IG, TikTok, and Twitter. Send comments and suggestions to [email protected] or [email protected].

🎤 Thanks for reading! TBH, we’d have gone anyway, just for the plot.

💜 Special shoutout to today’s sponsor, Toast, for supporting local journalism and making dining in (or taking out) in Boston easy. 

💐 The results are in: 54% of B-Siders had their Mother’s Day plans done and dusted by Friday, proving that they are the best children imaginable. One reader said: Eldest daughter here. If I don't get it done, who will? ”