Department of Numbers

Boston Massachusetts Residential Rent and Rental Statistics

The median monthly gross residential rent in Boston, MA (the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy metro area) was $1,247 in 2014 according to the Census ACS survey.1 Average gross rent in Boston was $1,257 in 2014. The median rent more accurately depicts rental rates in the middle of the distribution of rents and is thus preferred in the analysis below. 2015 Boston median and average rent data will be released in September of 2016.

Data is also available below for Boston rental vacancy rates, Boston rent as a percent of median income and the fraction of renters in Boston.

Show dollars as: Nominal Real

Real Gross Rent in Boston Massachusetts (2014 dollars)2

2014 1 Year Change 3 Year Change
US Median Gross Rent $934 +3.43% +4.83%
Massachusetts Median Gross Rent $1,107 +3.07% +4.63%
Boston, MA Median Gross Rent $1,247 +3.57% +4.79%

Boston, MA Real Gross Rent Trends

At $1,247, real median gross rent in Boston was at its highest level in 2014 since the series began in 2005. At $1,257, real average gross rent in Boston was at its highest level in 2014 since the series began in 2005.

Real Gross Rent in Boston: Boston MA Median, Boston MA Average, Massachusetts Median, US Median

Lower quartile, median and upper quartile real gross rent

Real Gross Rent History for Boston

Date US
Median
Massachusetts
Median
Boston, MA
Median
Boston, MA
Average
2014 $934 $1,107 $1,247 $1,257
2013 $903 $1,074 $1,204 $1,218
2012 $891 $1,044 $1,171 $1,175
2011 $891 $1,058 $1,190 $1,187
2010 $905 $1,068 $1,208 $1,202
2009 $909 $1,067 $1,212 $1,202
2008 $924 $1,112 $1,246 $1,243
2007 $878 $1,053 $1,184 $1,171
2006 $887 $1,085 $1,227 $1,215
2005 $862 $1,068 $1,213 $1,195

Boston Rental Vacancy Rate

The rental vacancy rate is the fraction of homes for rent that are not occupied.3 In 2014 the rental vacancy rate for Boston Massachusetts was 3.33% according to Census ACS data.

Rental Vacancy Rate in Boston Massachusetts

2014 1 Year Change 3 Year Change
US 6.32% -0.17% -1.08%
Massachusetts 4.04% -0.57% -0.72%
Boston, MA 3.33% -0.63% -0.65%

Trends in Boston, MA Rental Vacancy Rate

The rental vacancy rate in Boston peaked in 2007 at 5.98%. Since then it has fallen by 2.65% to 3.33%. Data records for this series originated in 2005.

Rental Vacancy Rate: Boston MA, Massachusetts, US

Rental vacancy rate in Massachusetts

Historical Rental Vacancy Rate data for Boston

Date US Massachusetts Boston, MA
2014 6.32% 4.04% 3.33%
2013 6.49% 4.61% 3.96%
2012 6.77% 4.46% 4.06%
2011 7.40% 4.76% 3.98%
2010 8.17% 5.80% 5.50%
2009 8.43% 5.83% 5.56%
2008 7.86% 5.28% 5.12%
2007 7.87% 6.20% 5.98%
2006 7.70% 5.55% 5.23%
2005 7.74% 5.58% 5.22%

Rent as a Fraction of Income

Using median household income data for Boston, we can calculate the fraction of income the median household would use to pay rent at the median monthly gross rent rate. For Boston, median monthly gross rent as a fraction of median household income was 19.78% in 2014 according to the ACS.

Boston Massachusetts Median Annual Rent as a Fraction of Median Household Income

2014 1 Year Change 3 Year Change
US 20.89% +0.10% +0.19%
Massachusetts 19.21% -0.15% -0.53%
Boston, MA 19.78% -0.09% -0.32%

Trends in Boston, MA Rent as a Fraction of Income

The fraction of median Boston household income required to pay median monthly gross rent peaked in 2010 (relative to the 2005 series origin) at 20.13%. Since then it has fallen by 0.35% to 19.78%.

Fraction of Income towards Rent: Boston MA, Massachusetts, US

Percent of median household income going towards median monthly gross rent in Boston Massachusetts

Historical Data for Annual Rent as a Fraction of Income in Boston Massachusetts

Date US Massachusetts Boston, MA
2014 20.89% 19.21% 19.78%
2013 20.78% 19.36% 19.87%
2012 20.65% 19.03% 19.44%
2011 20.70% 19.74% 20.09%
2010 20.50% 19.51% 20.13%
2009 20.12% 18.50% 19.44%
2008 19.00% 18.18% 18.68%
2007 18.66% 18.20% 18.74%
2006 18.90% 18.67% 19.74%
2005 18.89% 18.93% 19.80%

Renter Fraction in Boston Massachusetts

You can calculate the renter fraction in Boston in at least two ways: by housing units or by population. I've gone with the housing units measure here. This measure looks at the number of renting households in Boston as a fraction of total Boston households. In 2014 38.80% of households were renters according to Census ACS data.

Boston Fraction of Renters by Household Units

2014 1 Year Change 3 Year Change
US 36.90% +0.40% +1.48%
Massachusetts 38.40% -0.06% +0.53%
Boston, MA 38.80% -0.49% +0.14%

Trends in the Boston, MA Renter Fraction

The Boston household renter fraction peaked in in 2013 at 39.29% and is now 0.49% below that level. The origin year for the series is 2005.

Fraction of Renting Households: Boston MA, Massachusetts, US

Fraction of renters in Boston

History of Boston Renter Fraction

Date US Massachusetts Boston, MA
2014 36.90% 38.40% 38.80%
2013 36.50% 38.46% 39.29%
2012 36.09% 37.76% 38.72%
2011 35.42% 37.87% 38.66%
2010 34.65% 37.77% 38.33%
2009 34.13% 35.79% 36.56%
2008 33.36% 35.46% 36.29%
2007 32.80% 34.91% 35.24%
2006 32.73% 35.08% 35.71%
2005 33.10% 35.95% 36.15%

1. Gross rent is defined as contract rent plus the estimated average monthly cost of utilities (electricity, gas, water, and sewer) and fuel (oil, coal, kerosene, wood, etc.). Because some rentals include utilities and others don't, gross rent is a way of normalizing the variability.

2. Real dollars are calculated using the CPI-U less shelter series.

3. The rental vacancy rate is computed by dividing the number of vacant units for rent by the sum of the renter-occupied units, vacant units that are for rent, and vacant units that have been rented but not yet occupied.