Rent Café’s July 2019 housing report showed that the average price of rent in Boston is $3,111. This number is a whopping 128% increase from this time last year ($1, 366) and is over triple the 2018 national average of $1,025. Yikes.
What renters pay varies by neighborhood. The most affordable is Hyde Park, the self-proclaimed “Small Town in A Big City,” where rent will set you back $1,704. The most expensive is the bustling, historic Back Bay where the average monthly cost for housing is a cool $3,404.
“How Did Renting in Boston Become Such A Nightmare?” Asked The Boston Magazine last April. As with any big question, there’s no simple answers. But let’s take a look at four of the factors that are driving up rents:
Demand- Boston’s population had been on the increase for the last decade.
An immigration boom, and an increase in available jobs has driven up the number of Bostonians, as well as the population of surrounding area like Cambridge and Somerville.
Limited Supply— Demand, of course, works in tandem with supply, and Boston’s supply is seriously limited. Even geographically, Boston puts a squeeze on its housing. The same narrow roads and tight streets that make it so appeals make it difficult to find space for new multifamily residences. Boston builders have struggled to keep up with the city’s rising population, especially in the city center. The city of Boston is hoping to rapidly expand its housing supply. But, with the population poised to continually increase, will the city be able to make it happen?
The Commute— The commute in and out of the city is, in a word, brutal. Boston transit times are some of the worst in the country; only 13% of commuters can get to where they’re going in less than thirty minutes. The average commute is an exhausting 40 minutes by car and 49 minutes by public transit. Because it takes so long for commuters to get to work, young professionals are hoping to save on time and gas money by adjusting their expectations, opening their wallets, and trying to find a rental in an area close to their workplace.
Students, students, and more students— Boston is home to 35 colleges, universities, and community colleges.
Their student bodies combine to make a 152,000 strong army of young people looking for housing.
The good news for agents is that people still want to rent in Boston. Renting, rather than buying, remains a smart economic choice for many. In Boston and the Greater Boston Area, the home-sales market comes with even higher barriers to entry than the rental market. With an average income of a little over $20 an hour, many renters struggle to afford the rent they need to pay. However, Boston’s surge in lucrative tech and medical jobs, and well-earned reputation as an economy giant, means many tenants actually manage to pull in the money needed for their pricy digs!
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