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Living in the Community

This section will help you accomplish the tasks necessary to establish yourself in the Boston/Cambridge area. The sooner you have your home set up, the sooner you can concentrate on your academic studies or research work.

Cost of Living in Cambridge/Boston

When calculating your annual budget, it is important to understand that the cost of living in the Boston/Cambridge area is among the highest in the United States. Because individuals vary in their personal tastes and needs, it is difficult to predict exact expenses.

If you are a student, by now you should have received estimates for tuition, fees, and living expenses for the coming academic year from your school. Before the University is able to issue the appropriate visa document (Form I-20 or DS-2019), you must demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to support yourself. If you are accompanied by family members, the amount to be certified will increase accordingly.

If you are a scholar (researcher or faculty member), your living expenses will probably be higher than those for a student because you will not have the benefit of dormitories and meal plans. We estimate that a single scholar coming to Harvard for a year should have approximately $30,000 available for living expenses. Many scholars have found their actual living expenses to be much higher based on their individual circumstances and lifestyles. If family members accompany you to the United States you will need approximately $5,000 more per year per person. Health insurance in the United States, in particular, is very expensive. Keep in mind that these are guidelines and that certain parts of the University may require more than $30,000.

Massachusetts is part of a region in the United States called New England, where the weather is very unpredictable. Although there are four distinct seasons (summer, fall, winter, spring), the weather often changes quickly and dramatically. The summers (June-September) can be very hot and humid, with temperatures ranging from 15° to 36°C (60° to 100°F). The winters (December-March) tend to be cold and wet with snowstorms, and temperatures ranging from 17° to 3°C (0° to 37°F).

You will need three basic types of clothing for the New England weather. In the summer, lightweight clothing is recommended but should include light or cotton sweaters and pants. In the fall and spring, medium-weight clothing including a raincoat and/or a jacket should keep you comfortable. In winter, heavy woolen clothing such as pants and turtleneck sweaters is recommended. For outerwear in the winter, a woolen or down coat, hat or cap, gloves, and warm waterproof boots are essential.

The voltage used in the United States for small appliances is 110-V (60 cycles), not 220-V (50 cycles). If you bring appliances that use 220-V to 240-V, you must use a converter. Converters are available for purchase; however they can be expensive, sometimes costing as much as a new appliance.


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