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Cambridge Rents Among Highest in US

Cambridge Rents Among Highest in US

If you’re looking to rent a place in Cambridge, MA, you’re not alone. Boston rent prices have been climbing higher and higher every year for some time, and this neighboring city is largely keeping pace. In fact, if you are thinking about moving to this city in the hopes of saving money on rent, you should probably think again. With all of that being said, however, people rent apartments here every day. You can too, but you will have a much easier time by being as knowledgeable about the market as possible. Boston City Properties is here to help with that.

For years now, Boston City Properties has been the name to trust for reliable information and resources regarding real estate and rentals across the Boston region. We are proud to offer one of the most comprehensive online databases of searchable MA real estate listings around, which includes listings for rental properties throughout the area and state. You can sign up for free, immediate access to these listings to kick-start your search for a place to rent in this bustling university city. Later, we are happy to connect you with an experienced and knowledgeable agent in the neighborhood where you are looking who can take you to check out properties and more.

Cambridge Rents Among Highest in U.S. for Smaller Cities

Rent prices have continued to rise across the greater Boston region, and that trend seems to have intensified in this vibrant, densely populated university city. Home to MIT, Harvard and many other illustrious institutes of higher learning, the city has been in the news lately due to how high rents have become. Indeed, recent newspaper articles highlight the fact that this city is nearly the most expensive in the nation in terms of rent—at least among similarly sized cities.

According to the latest information, the average rent for an apartment in this city was right around $3,000 per month as of May 2019. Only one other similarly sized city in the country, San Mateo, is experiencing average monthly rents that exceed $3,000. Like this city, San Mateo’s proximity to major population centers—in particular, San Francisco and Silicon Valley—has played a huge role in the current state of its rental market. Many people assume that the cutthroat bidding wars and other issues are unique to major cities on the West Coast, but they clearly haven’t been to Boston lately.

The most recently available data shows that the average cost to rent a place in this city, which is across the Charles River from Boston and had an estimated population of around 118,977 in 2018, is $3,042. This figure represents a year-over-year increase of 123 percent, and it reflects the cost to rent an average-sized apartment. In this city, the average size of a rental unit is around 850 square feet.

Here’s a breakdown of the percentage of rentals that can be found in various monthly price ranges:

As is the case in any decently sized city, this one is broken up into several neighborhoods. Many of these neighborhoods are organized around various squares that stretch across the city. Rent prices are higher in some neighborhoods than in others, as you can see:

Regional Aspects of Rent Prices in the Area

Typically, when rents are too high in one area, renters push their search area out wider to find more affordable options. However, this strategy is pretty much off of the table in metro Boston in general and in this neighboring city in particular. That’s mostly because many much larger, overarching factors are at play across the region, causing rent prices to rise—and to keep rising, in many cases.

Some of the best examples of regional factors that affect rent prices here include:

The Role of Zoning Regulations in the Rental Market

Since a dearth of available rentals—particularly affordable ones—plays such a pivotal role in the city’s ongoing rent-price issues, it makes sense for the city to push hard for the development and construction of new developments and buildings. Like so many areas across metro Boston, however, this city’s outdated and restrictive zoning regulations place a huge damper on how effective new development can be. In other words, even when developers have the means to construct a large, new development with hundreds of units—including affordable ones—finding land that is suitably zoned for the enterprise is easier said than done.

Because of the ongoing impact of restrictive zoning, which often includes stipulations like two parking spaces per unit per building, the city has been in discussions about overhauling its zoning policies for some time. In particular, the city is thinking about implementing a new citywide zoning ordinance—but it would only apply to residential projects that will be earmarked as 100-percent affordable housing. The proposal would allow qualified projects to be built denser and taller than is typically allowed.

Why Are Rents So High?

Knowing what you do now about the regional factors that cause rent prices to go up around Boston and in this city in particular, you should clearly understand that there is no way to move “farther out” to find cheap places to live. In fact, for many renters, price is not even the top concern; securing a suitable place is.

You are in the same boat as everyone else who has to rent here, but that doesn’t make the sticker shock hurt any less. So, what’s the deal with rent prices in this area? Some of the top reasons for high rents across the city include:

What to Expect with Apartment Rentals in the City

When seeking a place to rent in this city, it definitely helps to be aware of current rental rates and what you can expect to get for your money. One thing that people often fail to consider is the impact that various services and amenities can have on the cost of rent. In Boston and in this city, certain attributes will make your rent go up—and a lack of certain attributes will make it more affordable.

The primary factors that affect the cost of renting a place in this part of the region are total square footage and total bedrooms. In 2018, for example, the median rent for a studio near Kendall Square, a central neighborhood in this city, was around $2,200 per month. The cost for a one-bedroom unit was around $2,500 per month, and a two-bedroom place averaged around $2,900 per month. If you need a three-bedroom apartment, expect to pay around $3,500. Keep in mind that these are merely average prices and don’t reflect things like extra amenities.

If a development offers certain amenities, you can safely assume that the rent is going to be higher than what is average for the area. For example, buildings that have doormen tend to command higher rents than those that do not. Many luxury developments have been constructed in the area lately, and they tend to include pricey extras that allow these places to charge premium rents. For example, you are likely to find many developments that have 24-hour concierge service. This means that there is always a designated person available to tenants to assist them with a variety of needs.

In some cases, optional extras can cost you a lot more, making the rent that much higher. For example, many developments in this city allow pets; on average, they tend to allow a maximum of two, and many have restrictions regarding size and breed. Either way, you can expect to pay some sort of “pet rent” for the ability to keep your furry friend at home. Developments that have extras like car-sharing services; bike storage and repair areas; pet grooming and play areas; package delivery management services; rooftop common areas; in-unit washers and dryers; elevators; and private outdoor areas tend to command among the highest rents, so be prepared for that.

Tips for Finding Apartments in the City

Now that you are getting up to speed regarding the average cost of renting a place in this city, you may be feeling pretty discouraged about your odds of securing one that you can actually afford. Affordable apartments are truly rare, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. The trick to finding a place that you like and can afford basically boils down to your approach. Those who are willing to take the time and effort that are required are far more likely to secure what they need. More so, people who arm themselves with the right resources and help tend to fare far better than those who try to go it alone.

Boston City Properties knows all about the ins and outs of renting in this city’s competitive market, and we’ve rounded up some tips to help you to find what you need:

Be Prepared to Rent a Place Quickly

If you are serious about renting a place in Cambridge soon, you should always be ready to apply for one on the spot. Therefore, before your search actually begins, you should make sure that you have everything in order. In particular, keep these points in mind so that you are ready to pounce when the right apartment comes along:

Popular Rental Developments in the Area

The rental market of this area is dynamic and fast paced, so availability changes constantly. As you will see later, new developments are also in the works and may become available in time to meet your needs. At any rate, here is Boston City Properties’ list of the most popular places to rent in Cambridgeport and other neighborhoods throughout this city:

New Developments

Although construction isn’t happening nearly as quickly as it should, a few new developments are in the works in this city. Cambridge Crossing, which is situated on 43 acres in the east part of the city and will sprawl over 4.5 million square feet, is slated to open in late 2021. It is expected to include shops and homes. Market Central, which will include three buildings at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Main in Central Square, will offer 308 residential units.

In Kendall Square, four new properties are in the works. One of them will be a 34-story residential tower, and it will be the tallest in the city upon completion. Located at 135 Broadway, it will stand 350 feet tall and will offer 355 residential units. Around 20 percent of them will be affordable housing, and around 5 percent of them will be middle-income housing.

How Boston City Properties Can Help

The rental situation in this city is already difficult, and that is unlikely to change any time soon. Even with new developments in the works, including a $19.5-million development at Porter Square including six different properties, availability remains limited. It pays enormously to have as much help as possible when apartment hunting in greater Boston, and you can’t go wrong by connecting with Boston City Properties. Sign up this instant for immediate, free access to our listings to check current availability for the neighborhood of your choice. Later, contact us for a referral to a local agent who can give you the insider knowledge that you need to fly through the leasing process like a pro. For more information, contact Boston City Properties.