The average rent in Boston is high and growing.
We're one step away from helping you choose where to live in Boston. Before we dive in, let's check out an infographic we put together on average rent prices in Boston, sorted by individual neighborhood — we wanted to make sure you were armed to the teeth with insight before you figure out where to look for apartments. Check it out below!
Rent prices in Boston haven't seen a decrease since 2009. Dang.
According to the most recent Greater Boston Housing Report Card, rents in Boston have risen in every single year since 2009 and in every single quarter since at least the beginning of 2012.
Warning: there's a huge disparity in rent price data out there.
The image below shows why it's not easy to understand what rent prices are in Boston. These are three major Internet Listing Sites (ILS), essentially companies that pull together listings from agents and other listing sites. I took an "apples to apples" look at their rent price reports from March 2015. We see very different data from each:
- Median rent for 1-bedroom apartments in Boston — Zumper says it's $2,280 and Apartment List says it's $1,980. That's a $300/month disparity. Zillow doesn't break it down by apartment size.
- Median rent for 2-bedroom apartments in Boston — Zumper says it's $2,690 and Apartment List says it's $2,500. That's a $190/month disparity. Zillow doesn't break it down by apartment size.
- Median rent for all apartments in Boston — Zumper says it's $3,058*. Zillow says it's $2,480. That's nearly a $600/month disparity (woah!). Apartment List doesn't calculate median rent across all apartments.
*Zumper reports that the median rent for "All Bedrooms" (which I would interperet as the median rent per bedroom) is $1,390. Multiply that by the average occupancy of rental units in Boston (2.2) and you get $3,058.
Good data is hard to find, but you can get it with this mini-app we made.
One of the talented engineers at Jumpshell (Jacob Bower) built a simple web app for helping renters understand prices in different Boston neighborhoods.
Essentially, this app can help you answer: "If I have a certain budget, what percent of apartments can I afford to rent in a certain neighborhood?” It’s not perfect — for example, it only includes certain neighborhoods — but I find it really useful for getting context about those neighborhoods.
And I’d argue that the data this app uses is the best in the Boston area. We use apartment information from YouGotListings, the most widely used rental management software for brokers and landlords in the Boston Area. Basically, it’s where information on most of the non-luxury apartments in Boston is stored and updated. Thanks YGL!
Or you can use this infographic as a guideline.
Jumpshell also put together this infographic to clearly show information about rent prices by neighborhood, by unit size and rent costs per person. We had to rely on cobbling together rent data from a few different sources, tempering it with our local knowledge. So be warned that this infographic doesn't give you cold hard pricing facts, but it's more of a guideline.
Heads up! What you pay this year won't be what you pay next year.
Zillow also crunched the numbers on neighborhoods in Boston where rents have fluctuated the most — both up and down. This is really important to consider before you rent somewhere.
Imagine, you've found a great apartment in a neighborhood you love and it's right on budget — but if you're living in West Cambridge (for example), you could potentially be facing a 12% increase in your rent the next year.
If you're not emotionally prepared to make another move in a year, you may want to think about another neighborhood.
Check out the biggest movers (according to Zillow) below:
Source: Zillow Real Estate Research
Before you rent an apartment, ask the landlord how much the rent will go up.
Before you sign a lease, it's always a good idea to ask the landlord how much the rent increased from last year and how much they anticipate raising the rent the next year. It's hard for landlords to know exactly, but even getting a ballpark is helpful.
Landlords can pretty much raise their rents as much as they want — to whatever "the market" (i.e. a renter) is willing to pay. Take what they raised the rent by the previous year and apply that to what you can expect to pay next year as well and make sure it's still in your budget.
Curious about rent prices in Cambridge, MA? Check out:
This is it! All the prep work is done and now you can sink your teeth into figuring out where exactly you'll want to live in Boston. You're doing a phenomenal job so far and we're pumped to continue supporting you on this exciting journey. Let's go!