Resources for New Postdocs


These resources are to help new postdocs navigate life in Boston. The Office for Global Professionals and Scholars (GPS) also has more resources on Living in Boston, which you may find useful. We do not own the content at these websites so please use your own judgment and check eligibility from the source directly when looking into those resources.

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How do I find housing?


Mass General Brigham is not able to offer employee or student housing, nor do we have any special discount for Harvard housing. The following information will help you learn more about Boston-area housing and finding an apartment.

NOTE: please use your discretion while renting an apartment and beware of housing scams. (Tips on how to avoid such apartment scams.)


The BWH Main Campus (75 Francis St) is located in the Longwood Medical Area (LMA) / Mission Hill neighborhood. Some of the Boston neighborhoods in close proximity to campus include Mission Hill, Brookline, Fenway/Kenmore and Jamaica Plains. Other popular ones further out from the hospital but still worth checking out include Cambridge, Allston, and Brighton. In particular, Central Square in Cambridge has easy access to the Harvard M2 Shuttle for those with a Harvard ID (see Free Shuttles below). Somerville may also be convenient if you work at the Assembly Row MGB location.

You can view an interactive neighborhood map with more detailed information on the GPS site.

Lease Guaranty

Many apartments will require you to pay a significant amount of money up-front, such as a security deposit and last month’s rent, in order to start a lease. To help with this financial burden, BWH offers a lease guaranty program, which many local landlords will accept instead of those up-front payments. This program does NOT provide cash to you or the landlord. Rather, it provides assurance for the landlord that BWH will ensure payment is made in the event of damages, etc, instead of requiring the deposit from you now. Any such payment would be deducted from your paycheck.

See the lease guaranty page for full details.

How do I get to the hospital / around Boston?

Public Transportation

Easy access to public transportation (buses, trains, ferries/boats, etc.) for everyday travel is available around Boston. The public transportation service is called the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and is generally referred to as the “T.”

–   MGB offers MBTA passes at discounted rates as an employee perk. ( )

–   Please check your PeopleSoft to apply for your MGB MBTA pass.   

Free Shuttles

For the convenience of employees, patients, and visitors, MGB provides free shuttle services between its hospitals and some offices. You can find real-time tracking, schedules and routes at this link.

The LMA Shuttle All-Ride program allows employees and students of all LMA medical institutions to ride many of the shuttles servicing the area for free! To know more about the shuttles visit the Longwood Shuttles website.

The Harvard M2 Shuttle is free with a Harvard ID and runs between the Cambridge Harvard Campus / Central Square and the Longwood Harvard Medical School (just north of BWH Main campus). If you do not have a Harvard ID, you can contact your BWH department admin to ask about the process of your Harvard appointment.

Brigham Wayfinding App

The Brigham Wayfinding App is an interactive map found at where you can plot a course between destinations on & around the main campus. This can help you navigate your way to various offices and services you might need to find, like the Cashier’s Office, Parking & Security, or various events and conference rooms.

Do I need to pay taxes? How do I pay taxes?

During onboarding, if you are on a visa you will be provided a Foreign National Tax Information form. Send this form to Roy Sheldon to ask what taxes you need to pay, as it can vary depending on the details of your case.


Please note that you must file tax forms if you were physically present in the U.S. in any immigration status (except B-1 Visa or Visa Waiver) for any part of a calendar year.

  1. Tax residence (sometimes called fiscal residency, residence for tax purposes) is an important concept for all taxpayers living and working abroad. Your tax residency determines how you are taxed and which tax forms you need to submit.  
  2. There is at least one tax form (IRS Form 8843) you and any of your dependent family members must file if you held any U.S. immigration status (except B-1 or Visa Waiver) in a given calendar year.   
  3. The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) classifies visa holders as either “nonresident ” or “resident” aliens. 
  4. The Sprintax software can help you determine your tax residency status.
    • If Sprintax determines you are a nonresident for tax purposes, you can proceed and complete your tax forms using Sprintax. 
    • If you are a resident for tax purposes, you cannot use Sprintax to file your tax forms, but you may use other tax services, such as TurboTax or H&R Block, to complete your tax forms. 
    • Additional fees may apply to filing federal and state tax forms.
      • The US federal government does offer free federal filing through a variety of guided softwares. These softwares can have varying requirements – please check the eligibility carefully to see if you qualify for the free guidance.
  5. Please confirm if your country has a tax treaty with the US, as these will help reduce taxes.

The GPS website contains additional information about paying taxes while on a visa, including resources to find an international tax expert to consult about your individual situation.

How do I get a Social Security Number (SSN)?

When you arrive in the US, you may not have a Social Security Number (SSN) yet, and it will take some time to acquire one.

DO NOT share your SSN in unsecured electronic communication (i.e. email) once you receive it.

Accessing Services Without SSN

Some banks require you to have a social security number in order to make an account. Bank of America is one exception that allows you to make an account without the SSN (although you may not be able to apply online).

Selecting health insurance through MGB Peoplesoft generally requires a SSN, but if you do not yet have one you can enroll manually by submitting a form that you should have received during onboarding. Contact the HR onboarding team if you do not have this form.

Applying for SSN

  1. Obtain the necessary documents: Gather the required documents for your SSN application. Typically, you will need to provide the following:
    • Passport: A valid, unexpired passport that serves as your primary identification.
    • Immigration documents: Depending on your immigration status, you may need to provide additional documents such as your visa, Form I-94, or employment authorization.
    • Form SS-5: Complete and print the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Form SS-5 ( ), Application for a Social Security Card. You can find this form on the SSA’s website ( ) or pick up a physical copy from a local SSA office ( )
  2. Verify the supporting documents: Ensure that your supporting documents are valid and meet the SSA’s requirements. You may need to provide certified translations if your documents are not in English.
  3. Visit the Social Security office: Plan a visit to the selected SSA office during business hours. It’s a good idea to arrive early to avoid long wait times.
  4. Submit your application: When you arrive at the SSA office, inform the staff that you’re applying for an SSN as a foreign national. They will guide you through the process and provide any additional forms, if necessary. Submit your completed Form SS-5 and supporting documents to the staff.
  5. Attend an interview (if required): Depending on your specific circumstances, the SSA may request an interview to verify your identity and eligibility. If an interview is needed, cooperate with the SSA and provide any additional information or documentation they require.
  6. Wait for your SSN card: The SSA will process your request after submitting your application. It may take a few weeks to receive your SSN card via mail. You can check the status of your application online or by contacting the SSA.
  7. Keep your SSN secure: Once you receive your SSN card, please keep it safe and DO NOT unnecessarily SHARE your SSN; only provide it to authorized entities when required.

Remember, this guide provides a general overview of the process. Still, it’s essential to consult the SSA’s official website or contact their office for the most up-to-date and accurate information specific to your situation.

How do I find a doctor? How does health insurance work?

All Brigham employees and their covered family members ( depending upon your healthcare plan ) can receive primary care through BWH, BWFH, or another MGB-affiliated practice. For more information about the employee health insurance options, please see AskMyHR.

To find a doctor within the MGB system:

  1. Use this link ( ) to find BWH staff resources. 
  2. Click on the “primary care “ tab on the left panel ( you will land on this page) 
  1. Choose a location of your preference and click on “our providers.” 
  2. This will provide a list of doctors at BWH and indicate physicians accepting new patients. Choose one that fits your needs, 

Please note this is just a guide to help you find a PCP via BWH. You can also use other resources that better suit your needs. 

Where can I find childcare?

Unfortunately, there are only limited resources available to BWH employees for childcare. For up-to-date information, please see here.

How much time off do I get? Am I being paid appropriately? How often should I meet with my PI?

BWH has a formal Postdoc Policy that addresses all these questions and more! We strongly encourage every postdoc to look over this policy and refer to it when arranging expectations with their PI. All PIs are expected to adhere to the guidelines laid out in that Policy.

In particular, please note the Annual Career Conference (ACC) form included in the Policy. The ACC is an important opportunity for you and your PI to identify career goals and concrete steps that you will work towards in the coming year (e.g. attending a conference, completing a training course, submitting a grant). It is also a good time to complete the Reappointment and Salary Review Form, which helps your department track your annual salary increase.

I have a question that isn’t listed here / I’m confused about something here.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at to connect with current postdocs here directly.

If you have HR or onboarding related issues, you can make a request through AskMyHR or contact any of the HR reps who provided you onboarding information.

If you have general questions about research resources at BWH, please contact the

If you have a question about something specific to your department, you can ask your department admin for help. If you don’t know who your department admin is, you can email the Research Helpline with your department and PI, and we can help you find out.

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