Suffolk County

Boston rental prices up as much as 16 percent from 2021, agency says

BOSTON — Hershley Sterling is living with six other people in a rented house in Dorchester. She’s preparing for her second year at Bunker Hill Community College and is actively looking for an apartment with more space.

“It is tough finding a place around here,” Sterling said. “The prices are very high if you want a good place, even just a studio.”

According to the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, a regional planning agency that tracks housing trends, rental prices in Boston are back to pre-pandemic levels. MAPC Director of Data Services Tim Reardon said the housing market is increasingly more expensive for renters.

“After March 2020, we saw big declines in the asking price for most types of units. These were pretty substantial drops [because] fewer people were moving,” Reardon said. “Starting last summer, prices have been climbing and they’re climbing steadily.”

Reardon said the rising prices in Boston are forcing renters to flock to neighboring communities. MAPC data shows the cost for rental units is also rising in Arlington, Cambridge, Quincy and Somerville.

“If [this trend] continues, it’s going to put the squeeze on families, young people and seniors on a fixed-income renting their place,” Reardon said. “There’s simply not enough housing to accommodate all the people who are here. That’s driving the prices up and when folks can’t rent a place in Boston, they’ll move further out.”

Take a look at the MAPC’s average monthly prices for Boston rental units in July 2021 and July 2022:

UnitsAvg. July 2021 priceAvg. July 2022 price$ difference% difference
1 Bedroom$2,000$2,250+250+13
2 Bedroom$2,400$2,775+375+16
3 Bedroom$2,800$2,975+175+6

Sterling said she’s currently paying $500 a month for a small room in that Dorchester house. She dreams about renting more space but doesn’t know if she has it in her budget.

“Everything is expensive,” Sterling said. “If you want to find a place that’s convenient for you, you’ve got to spend the money.”

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