The tool below lets you select from a variety of neighborhoods around Boston to view and compare their "rent profiles" (the percent of apartments in that neighborhood you can afford with different budgets). Play with the tool here, and read more about it below!
When finding an apartment in Boston, one of the most important decisions you will make will be what neighborhood you live in. There are a number of factors to consider, the different characteristics and traits that each neighborhood has (which you can use our Boston Neighborhoods web app to explore) and just as importantly, the price you will expect to pay in each. Our blog has summaries of the average rents in Boston and Cambridge, but I wanted to dig in more. I wanted to look at the distribution of rents within each neighborhood. For example, it is good to know that the average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in the South End is around $2,900, but could I find an apartment for $2,500 there? If I wanted to spend $3,500 would there be any apartments that are more upscale to accomodate this?
The specific question I sought to answer was, "If I have a certain budget, what percent of apartments in a certain neighborhood can I afford to rent?”. Diving into our data of apartments that have been available for rent since January 1st, 2014, I was able to answer this question and present our results above for you to explore and learn from. With help from this tool, for example, you will see that by setting budget of $3,000/month for a two bedroom in the South End will put about 14% of apartments in this area within your reasonable price range. If you are shopping in Allston however, a price point of just $1,800/month will give you access to 22% of apartments.
Let's take a closer look at the South End, one of the more expensive neighborhoods in Boston. Looking at the graph below of 2-bedroom units in this neighborhood, we see the peak in the graph occurs around $3,000 meaning this is the most common rent. You can see that if you have a budget of $3,000 about 14% of the apartments in this neighborhood will be available in your desired price range. This neighborhood has a wide spread of available prices though, and with any budget between $2,500-$3,500 you will have at least 5% of apartments falling in your budget. There will of course be changes in quality across this spectrum (apartments for $2,500 will probably be smaller and less nice while the $3,500 apartments may be more spacious and nicer), but you will have a shot of finding something with any budget in this range.
We can compare this to Brighton where prices are both lower, but also packed tighter together. A budget of $1,800 puts about 22% of apartments in your price range, but by the time you move down to a $1,400 price-point virtually no apartments will be available to you. There is a longer right tail, and you will continue to have more than 5% of apartments in your range through a $2,400 budget, while past this price point it is harder to find many apartments that are that expensive.