WBUR

For Boston Renters, It Keeps Getting Worse

BOSTON — Anyone who rents an apartment in Boston knows the city is an expensive place to live. Trouble is, it’s getting worse.

Real estate data firm Trulia has crunched the numbers in the 25 largest rental markets in the country.

Not only is the city among the least affordable in the country, but it saw a steep rent increase between May 2012 and May 2013.

The median rent jumped substantially in Miami, too. And Boston doesn’t look so bad in comparison. But that may not be the best comparison.

The two cities, it turns out, saw some of the biggest rent hikes in the nation over the last year — ranking second and third, respectively, among the top 25 largest rental markets.

Think affordability will be an issue in the mayor’s race?

Benjamin Swasey built the infographics.

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  • Andrew Winson

    “Think affordability will be an issue in the mayor’s race?”

    Unfortunately, no. And to be frank, I’m not sure what the mayor could actually do about it, since private owners set the rates. I commute over an hour each day into work because even with the added cost of the T, it’s the only way I can afford to pay rent. I’d love to live closer, but without taking on 2 or 3 roommates, the price is just too high.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

      Government is the reason housing is so expensive: it limits growth in the housing market through zoning laws that prevent the development of higher-density housing. Imagine how many people could live within walking distance of where they work and play if they were allowed to live in three dimensions (think: more high-rises) rather than the two that dominate the Boston area (e.g., all the 1-3 family houses).

      Congestion on the highways leading to the more affordable ‘burbs, the price of parking in the city, and the lack of affordable housing on rapid transit lines are all inextricably linked to laws that try to preserve a romanticized vision of Boston’s past instead of recognizing and accepting that people want to live in the city and not have to drive everywhere or spend two hours each day commuting.

      • Andrew Winson

        Sorry, I don’t believe the tradeoff is that black and white. With the exception of places with unsavory reputations, housing prices are going up at pretty much the same rate across eastern Massachusetts. Removing zoning strictures on high rise construction isn’t going to change that one bit, not the least because developers aren’t interested in building low- and middle-income housing on that scale, whether the zoning allows it or not. They’re in it for the money, (not an accusation, just a fact) and that’s not ever where the money is.

        And I’ve been around the country a fair bit, and I’ve yet to see a high rise low/middle-income building I’d actually want to live in long-term. The fact is that the entire region is getting increasingly gentrified, and it’s squeezing EVERYONE below a certain income, and there’s little that I can see government—and more particularly the mayor of one city, to bring it back to this article—really doing (that we as a society would accept) about that.

  • Dan Labrecque

    I live in Fitchburg, MA (north central Massachusetts) and would love to live closer to Boston. But out here, I can rent a house with a pool at the same price of a studio apartment in Boston. Heck some studios are even more.

    • GavenCade

      Fitchburg will save you money if your time is worthless and you’re bad at math. Boston is a 2-hour drive, one way, in rush-hour traffic. It’s an hour and a half if you park and ride the purple line. A commuter pass is $840/year + parking + car insurance + car loan + gas/maintenance + three hours of your time, every day.

      • dudebrah

        You can’t really remove parking/car insurance/other car related expenses if you live in Boston because Boston isn’t really a city where you can expect to live without a car unless you’re a college student or something.

        • GavenCade

          Do you even lift, bro? You can walk from one end of Boston to the other in 45 minutes. Or you can rent one of the thousand zipcars, use hubway or take the bus/cab/T.

  • Brian Cady

    This is outrageous. We aren’t all 5.5%
    richer than last year, nor are we splurging on housing more than last
    year. We’re all broke. Our pay hasn’t increased 5.5% or any percent.
    This is a market failure of massive proportions. There is either market
    collusion or capitalism sucks. Which one, Menino?

  • GavenCade

    It’s about time we all looked in the mirror and realized we’ve become the modern-day equivalent of indentured serfs – paying obscene prices to live in rundown apartments, while our hard-earned wages are siphoned off by wealthy landlords, real estate conglomerates, and banking monopolies.

    Divided we have failed.

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