HBS is 40-acre residential campus, one that was built on the understanding that living in proximity to your classmates only enhances the opportunities for learning. On campus housing options include both dorms and apartments, and about 80% of students choose to live where they learn. First year student Gil Gerstl made the decision to live on campus in an apartment with his family, and couldn’t be happier with his choice. 

Why did you decide to live on campus?

I decided to live in an on campus apartment for a combination of reasons: 

  • Having a family, I wanted to be in close proximity, and be able to drop by during the day as well. 

  • I was also looking forward to the opportunity to live in a learning community, around my class and section mates, and have the ability to spend time together in and out of the classroom with limited logistics required. 

  • Another real reason was the weather…moving in from a much warmer climate, I wanted to limit the commute as much as possible. 

  • Last but not least, as an international student from Israel with no credit history in the US, renting an off campus and not Harvard University affiliated apartment could prove very problematic and much more costly.

Can you tell us about the apartment options on campus?

Apartments on campus include studios, 1 bedrooms, 2 bedrooms, and 3 bedrooms. 

Harvard University Housing has two apartment complexes on campus:

  • Soldiers Field Park (aka SFP) - an older complex which is marginally closer to the classrooms and has somewhat larger apartments.

  • One Western Avenue (aka OWA) – a newer (2007) apartment complex, with nice facilities.

What are the apartments like?

The apartments are great. They are not high-end, but are very well maintained, with 24/7 service. The kitchens (mostly kitchenettes) are equipped with a fridge, stove, dishwasher and sometimes a microwave, and are  a fair size to allow for cooking great meals. The apartments are not furnished so you have the ability to create your own home from the provided space (and Ikea is only a 30 minute drive away). Utilities and heat are included. The leases are approximately a year long for the first year (they start at varying dates and all end on June 30th). For the second year they’re for a whole year.

HBS is a residential campus. How does that impact student life?

This means HBS is not only a school, it’s a community. You have an opportunity to get to know your classmates, and their families, in a deep and real manner. These are the people you study with, live next to, eat with, party with, and lean on. For me, the impact is really feeling a part of something. HBS is far more than a place where you go just for an education, or a place you go to class in, its the place you meet new friends that over time, become your extended family.

Is it possible for couples and families to live on campus?

Definitely. Living on campus amplifies the partners’ part in the HBS community and family. The inclusive environment of HBS makes partners an integral part of the section, and living on campus allows them to attend more gatherings and partake in more activities with less logistics involved.

As for families, the effect is even greater. HBS has a very active families club called Crimson Parents that arranges activities for families and children in a wide variety of ages. Arranging everything from baby massage classes, through apple picking trips, and all the way to holiday parties.  Crimson Parents also provides a resource for assistance from finding babysitters to meal trains when required, and creates a support structure for families that are away from their extended families. 

How does the housing lottery work?

There is one lottery for HBS Housing that results in a dorm room offer being made in one of the rounds. 

There is another lottery for Harvard University Housing (HUH) apartments (both on and off-campus) that result in assigned View and Select Windows, where applicants go online to look at available housing and can choose one. Each lottery has a swap time at the end of it. Students are encouraged to sign up for both lotteries to give them more of a chance, but if any student is coming with a partner or children, they can look at the HUH apartments only. HUH also gives priority to applicants with one or more children.

What advice would you give prospective students/new admits as they think about their living options at HBS?

Make sure you understand what you really need. All options are good, it just depends on your personal requirements and preferences. If you can, come on campus for ASW to see for yourself and get a better understanding of the options.

For more information about housing options at HBS you can read the following blog posts:

Living in a Dorm at HBS
Living Off Campus at HBS