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How does the Allston/Brighton rental market compare to the rest of the country?

I remember getting the call that opened my eyes up to the fact that I wasn’t just living in an expensive city, rather one of the most expensive in the country.  Joe, from Sleepy Eye, Minnesota (Real town) was looking for a 2 bedroom apartment.  Great, I informed Joe, we had plenty of 2 bedroom apartments to choose from.  As I started running down my list of questions, asking if Joe if he and his roommate had any pets, what their preferences were, Joe informed me that he and his roommate were on a budget.  This is how the conversation went:

  • Me: No problem Joe we can work within your budget, what are you looking to spend?
  • Joe: $800
  • Me: Great, 2 beds for $1600, we have some of those.  When are you guys available?
  • Joe: No.  $800. Total.

Now we really do try to work with everyone here but I knew right then that Joe was in for some good ol’ fashioned domestic cultural shock.  Intrigued, I asked Joe what $800 gets him in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota.  After about 5 minutes of listing ammenities I was contemplating packing a bag and my dog and heading to Sleepy Eye, Minnesota.  Holy moly, Joe was living like royalty.  Joe agreed he was doing well for himself but, he informed me, the capital city of Minneapolis was more expensive.  A nice 2 bed in a high rise would run you upwards of $1,000 per month. Total.  Welcome to Boston, Joe!

Boston, rich in both culture and academic and medical facilities, Boston, Ma is called the HUB for good reasons.  Along with the culture and big city amenities come a big city price tag.  According to the Apartment Guide Boston/Cambridge/Newton ranks 4th in the country  in terms of apartment living costs, at 27.10 per square foot, trailing only San Jose and San Francisco, California and edging out both Los Angeles and New York.  In Boston, the average studio price is nearly double the national average of $769.

With all due respect to Sleepy Eye, the best bang for your buck is in Springfield, Missouri, where $769 will land you about 1,060 square feet of living space vs. 340 square feet in Boston.

For as long as anyone can remember, even before Aerosmith was rocking out of 1325 Commonwealth Ave several decades ago.  What draws people to the Allston/Brighton neighborhoods isn’t only a matter of your money going farther here, although that helps.

For example hundreds if not thousands of Boston University students have seemingly taken over the area off Commonwealth Ave where Pratt, Ashford and Gardener Streets intersect, commonly referred to as “West campus”.  Spacious 3, 4 and 5 bedroom apartments and sometimes entire houses are rented out for a fraction of what students and young professionals would pay for a comparable spot downtown.  Similarly, Oak Square offers professionals an easy cab ride to downtown Boston in addition to an express bus system that goes to the financial district, as well as buses that go to every part of the City.  Oak Square is an easy decision for commuters who can hop on the Pike or on storrow within minutes.

In summary, yes Boston is expensive, very expensive!  But if you’re willing to live just outside of the city with easy access to downtown and Kenmore, there are pockets that won’t leave you eating Ramen every night while looking under the couch for spare change.

Please stay tuned for a new blog every Tuesday, and thanks for reading!

Adam Mason

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