By Akshay Mathur MC/MPA 2023
Before coming to Harvard as a Mid-Career MPA student, I was based in Mumbai, working with think tanks that focus on local, national, and global policy issues. After I graduate, I plan to return to India to continue working in the field.
Harvard has been home for last year. I live with my wife, Purvaja, in Peabody Terrace, a set of apartments managed by Harvard University Housing. It is a 10-minute walk from Harvard Square and a popular option for HKS students.
I could not have imagined how much both of us would come to enjoy living in Peabody Terrace. It is a wonderful complex, right by Charles River. We are delighted that we have classmates and friends who live in the same complex, same building, or even some on the same floor! The proximity allows us to dine together, share babysitters, plan movie nights, enjoy an occasional drink on the spur of the moment, care for one another during sickness, participate in late evening and early morning events at school, and even play sports! I am part of a group that plays tennis regularly. Because we live close to each other, we’ve gotten to know each other’s families too. Purvaja has as many friends as I do!
Deciding where to live while studying here in Cambridge can be stressful, so I’d like to share some tips about Harvard University Housing that may be helpful as you plan for your stint at Harvard. A fair number of HKS students live in Harvard University Housing, though living off campus is also an option.
Finding and Selecting an Apartment
- If budget allows, secure your university housing before the lottery begins.
- Most Peabody Terrace apartments don’t have a washer/dryer or dishwasher within the unit. If those are important amenities to you, try Akron, Cowperthwaite, or Soldiers Field Park across the river. Be sure to review the amenities on the Housing website.
- Most apartments are not furnished, so you will have to plan to furnish the apartment.
- Akron and Cowperthwaite are centrally air conditioned and heated. Peabody is centrally heated but not centrally air-conditioned. This may be a consideration for some of you if you plan to spend the summer here.
- Peabody Terrace has a children’s outdoor and indoor play area for kids which is quite frequently used by parents. It’s a great amenity if you are coming to HKS with young children.
- Not all Peabody Terrace apartments are accessible by elevators. Some have to be accessed by staircases. This may be an important consideration, especially for those who have children or have medical conditions.
- Peabody Terrace, Cowperthwaite, and Akron apartments are all within 10-minute walking distance from Harvard Square. Any of these are great options for HKS students.
- Most students walk to school, some ride bikes in the summer and fall, and some keep a car for groceries, children, and travelling out of town or state.
- There is public transportation in the Boston/Cambridge area, so while a car may be helpful, it is generally not a necessity.
- For Peabody Terrace, Akron, and Cowperthwaite, Whole Foods is 10-minute walk and Trader Joes is a 15-minute walk. Whole Foods also delivers groceries to the apartment (which is particularly important if you don’t have a car or for the winters).
- There are study areas in all apartment complexes, but I’ve found that most students study in their apartments or in school libraries.
- Those studying in Harvard schools in Cambridge (e.g. HKS, HLS, HGSE, etc.) tend to choose Peabody Terrace, Akron, or Cowperthwaite because of the proximity to classes.
- It is helpful to have classmates live in the same apartment complex as it allows you to build friendships, do assignments together, prepare for exams, convene for dinner, or share information about babysitters.
Maintenance and Repair
- The response time for maintenance requests for plumbing, electrical, and other such issues is fairly swift.
Photo courtesy of Akshay Mathur