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 $1,162 in 2012 according to the Census ACS survey.1 Average gross rent in Boston was $1,166 in 2012. The median rent more accurately depicts rental rates in the middle of the distribution of rents and is thus preferred in the analysis below. 2013 Boston median and average rent data will be released in September of 2014.

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 (2012 dollars)2

2012 1 Year Change 3 Year Change
US Median Gross Rent $884 -0.23% -1.23%
Massachusetts Median Gross Rent $1,036 -1.52% -1.43%
Boston, MA Median Gross Rent $1,162 -1.78% -2.68%

Boston, MA Real Gross Rent Trends

Median gross rent for Boston peaked in real terms in 2008 at $1,215 and is now $53 (4.36%) lower. Average gross rent for Boston peaked in real terms in 2008 at $1,211 and is now $45 (3.72%) lower.

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
2012 $884 $1,036 $1,162 $1,166
2011 $886 $1,052 $1,183 $1,180
2010 $896 $1,058 $1,196 $1,191
2009 $895 $1,051 $1,194 $1,184
2008 $901 $1,084 $1,215 $1,211
2007 $862 $1,034 $1,163 $1,150
2006 $868 $1,062 $1,201 $1,189
2005 $849 $1,052 $1,195 $1,177

Boston Rental Vacancy Rate

The rental vacancy rate is the fraction of homes for rent that are not occupied.3 In 2012 the rental vacancy rate for Boston Massachusetts was 4.06% according to Census ACS data.

Rental Vacancy Rate in Boston Massachusetts

2012 1 Year Change 3 Year Change
US 6.77% -0.63% -1.66%
Massachusetts 4.46% -0.30% -1.37%
Boston, MA 4.06% +0.08% -1.50%

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 1.92% to 4.06%. Data records for this series originated in 2005. From a 2011 post peak low of 3.98%, the rental vacancy rate has increased by 0.08%.

Rental Vacancy Rate: Boston MA, Massachusetts, US

Rental vacancy rate in Massachusetts

Historical Rental Vacancy Rate data for Boston

Date US Massachusetts Boston, MA
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 19.44% in 2012 according to the ACS.

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

2012 1 Year Change 3 Year Change
US 20.65% -0.05% +0.53%
Massachusetts 19.03% -0.71% +0.53%
Boston, MA 19.44% -0.66% 0.00%

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 0.69% to 19.44%.

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
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 2012 38.72% of households were renters according to Census ACS data.

Boston Fraction of Renters by Household Units

2012 1 Year Change 3 Year Change
US 36.09% +0.67% +1.96%
Massachusetts 37.76% -0.11% +1.97%
Boston, MA 38.72% +0.06% +2.16%

Trends in the Boston, MA Renter Fraction

At 38.72%, the 2012 household based renter fraction in Boston was at its highest 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
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 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.