By Kristina Rex

BOSTON (CBS) – It’s that time of year – college students are moving back to Boston, ready to kick off another school year. But for those living off campus, they’re facing a difficult housing market.

Rent in Boston has jumped back to a pre-pandemic level, which is giving students a run for their money.

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The days of remote learning are over, and the day dubbed “Allston Christmas” due to the free items left on the sidewalk has returned.

“This is my first move in Boston so I was not prepared for the chaos that the city would bring,” said Celine Winn.

But real estate experts say the rental market in Boston has surpassed the level it was at prior to the COVID pandemic.

“I mean last year the city was a ghost town, students weren’t coming back,” said Randy Horn of Compass Real Estate. “This year with everyone coming back, the rents have rebounded and increased in some places where you’re having multiple bidding situation for the top rentals and lines to get into open houses which we haven’t seen before.”

As college students in Allston and Brighton scrambled Tuesday to get ready for the September 1 move-in ahead of school, they said the 12 hours are crucial.

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“We actually can’t move into this place until tomorrow so we had to get an Airbnb,” said Philip Ng.

“So technically the whole city is homeless for like 24 hours,” another incoming student added.

But in the meantime, furniture lined the streets, free for the taking.

“I went to IKEA to buy a bookshelf and then I found the same bookshelf on the street the other day. Got to just go return that right back to IKEA,” said Dennis Karpovitch.

And the real heroes of move-in day are the parents who brave the city every September 1.

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“Hopefully the next move he stays a little longer,” one father said.

Kristina Rex