Paying Boston’s Sky-High Rent Price: Housing at $2,000 a Month Across Massachusetts

If you’re a resident of Massachusetts, you’re certainly no stranger to rent prices that are, well, wicked high. You also aren’t going to be too surprised to hear that rent is continuing to rise . . . and rise, and rise some more. As of early 2016, the average per-person rent in Bostona city of 655,884 residentswas over $2,000 a month. But why? How come it’s so darn expensive here? It’s cold, it’s snowy, the T is usually late or broken, and the only good thing about the ridiculous traffic is that it makes the potholes seem less severe (sorry folks, we’re just missing summer this week). Regardless, analysts say that the improving economy and the high per-capita income in the commonwealth are two main reasons for our sky-high rent prices.

The real estate data firm Reis, Inc. and online estate sites like Trulia and Rent Jungle have compiled some data on rising rents in Boston and Massachusetts, but we have decided to do our own investigation. We’ve modeled it after Buzzfeed’s “This Is What $1,000 a Month in Rent Would Get You All around the US” article, but have modified it to be a Massachusetts-only version. Just as they did, we tried to find a variety of rent examples, from tiny (often listed as “cozy”) apartments in Boston, to luxurious North End apartments in Cambridge, to rent-to-own houses on the South Shore. Here’s what kind of housing you can get for about $2,000 a month in our wonderful, bustling, sometimes-jaw-droppingly-expensive state:


One-Bedroom Apartment: Boston

Rent: $1,655 one-bedroom-apartment-boson-chelsea one-bedroom-apartment-boson-chelsea

Size: 580 ft2

Neighborhood: Chelsea/Box District

Source: Zillow

Amenities: With a fitness center and a parking spot for the used car you bought from your parents, this is an apartment you could easily call home. Additional amenities include hardwood floors, granite countertops, and a roof deck. We recommend using the deck to look over the city and shake your head at all the people who haven’t made out as well as you.




Cozy Studio (Furnished): Boston

Rent: $1,900

Size: 480 ft2

Neighborhood: North End

Source: Craigslist

Amenities: Below ground and with only one window, this “cozy” studio might feel a bit constricting . . . but at least it’s near the historic Freedom Trail? With the “exposed brick, wooden beams, [and] hardwood floors,” you’ll really feel like a part of history in this furnished apartment.




One-Bedroom “Suite”: Bostonone-bedroom-suite-boston

Rent: $1,545

Size: Studio (not listed)

Neighborhood: Beacon Street

Source: Craigslist

Amenities: Well, there’s free WiFi, which you can use to look for a new place to live. Plus, the ad advertises carpet. Lucky you.





Two-Bedroom Penthouse: Boston

Rent: $2,000

Size: Not listed

Neighborhood: Lake Avenue

Source: Craigslist

Amenities: Overlooking the water and including a swimming pool, jacuzzi, and built-in wet bar, you surely won’t go thirsty in this place. We can certainly see why they call it a penthouse, with its spiral staircase and working fireplace. Then again, the artisan rug and La-Z-Boy chair may make this place better suited for your grandfather. (Who are we kidding. This is way too classy for grandpa.)



Two-Bedroom Apartment: Framingham


Rent: $1,599

Size: Not listed

Neighborhood: North Framingham

Source: Craigslist

Amenities: Despite being advertised as a winter wonderland, we still couldn’t help but notice the “sparkling, Olympic-sized pool” and think about warmer days. But with the famous Massachusetts winters, even the “warm beige carpeting” sounds pretty good right now. Just make sure you have a couple shovels for that winter wonderland. Two parking spots are included.



Two-Bedroom Apartment with Loft: Westward two-bedroom-apartment-loft-westford

Rent: $2,400

Size: 1,483 ft2

Neighborhood: Abbot Mill

Source: Craigslist

Amenities: We are pining for this beautiful, pine-floored, two-bedroom apartment. With a loft included in each unit, every tenant is sure to feel high above everyone else. Plus, after a few visits to the private fitness center, both you and your state-of-the-art cooking appliances will be made of pure steel.


three-bedroom-house-northampton-rental three-bedroom-house-northampton-rental

Three-Bedroom House: Northampton  

Rent: $2,400

Size: 1,945 ft2

Neighborhood: Florence

Source: Craigslist

Amenities: If you like Tetris, then this is the house for you! Two decks, a sunroom, and skylights will have you feeling blissfully connected to your yard (which you are responsible for maintaining). You also have to remove your own trash, shovel the driveway, and mow the lawn. But hey! There’s a hot tub and patio furniture, so you can start planning lawn parties whenever you’re ready.


three-bedroom-house-dennis-port-cape-cod three-bedroom-house-dennis-port-cape-cod

Three-Bedroom House: Dennis Port/Cape Cod

Rent: $2,150

Size: Not listed

Neighborhood: Dennis Port

Source: Craigslist

Amenities: This is a classic Victorian house you can use to live out your dreams on Cape Cod. Remodeled with “many extras” (we really don’t know what that means) and “custom workmanship” (also a bit unsettling), even the birdhouses look like no other. Just remember to keep your pinky out when sipping tea in your “formal dining area.”


 two-bedroom-condo-west-harwich-cape-cod-beach  two-bedroom-condo-west-harwich-cape-cod-beach

Two-Bedroom Condo:

West Harwich/Cape Cod

Rent: $2,000

Size: 1,209 ft2

Neighborhood: West Harwich

Source: Craigslist

Amenities: Pack your suits and start driving . . . you won’t need much else at this furnished oceanfront apartment (though you’ll have to leave your Boston Terrier at home, as there are no pets allowed here). Don’t worry, though: With your ocean views, sandy beaches, and ten-minute walk to “quaint shops and restaurants,” you’ll soon forget all about Mr. Barkley.



two-bedroom-farm-house-berkshires -ma two-bedroom-farm-house-berkshires -ma

Two-Bedroom Farmhouse: Berkshires  

Rent: $2,200

Size: 1,840 ft2

Neighborhood: Berkshires

Source: Craigslist

Amenities: This is considered a “post-and-beam home,” which we assume means you can post pictures of your new house online and beam as people’s jaws drop in awe. Take your morning walk along the “seasonal brook” and then enjoy breakfast in your kitchen with “high-end furnishings.” When your mom comes to visit, show her your house, featured in New York Times’ Great Homes and Destinations.


three-bedroom-house--studio-great-barrington-ma three-bedroom-house--studio-great-barrington-ma

Three-Bedroom House and Studio: Great Barrington

Rent: $2,300

Size: 1,375 ft2

Neighborhood: Great Barrington

Source: Craigslist

Amenities: Crazy cat lady? Crazy craft lady? Both are encouraged at this “highly [energy] efficient” three-bedroom house. When summer rolls around, pick fruit from the trees in your fenced-in backyard or create masterpieces in your heated craft barn. End the day sipping lemonade and swinging on your “darling front porch.” Darling.


Wherever you live in the commonwealth, do your best to make it a home. After all, you’re probably paying an arm and leg to live there, so you might as well enjoy it. We’d love to hear your insights on ever-rising rent prices in MA and how your rent and amenities compare. Happy house-hunting!


As Housing Booms in MA, Residents Push for Even More Construction

August 2015 marked the third straight month of increased housing sales in Massachusetts. This continued spike has lawmakers worried about the availability of affordable housing in the commonwealthhousing units are being swooped up faster than they are being built. The goal is to make sure that, as MA continues to compete to bring in workers, it also competes to provide sufficient housing for those workers. A bill, sponsored by the Housing Committee co-chairs, Senator Linda Dorcena Forry (D) and Representative Kevin Honan (D), has been proposed that would increase the amount of housing stock in the commonwealth.

housing-massachusetts-single-familyHousing Partnership Directors Testify

In early October, advocates for the bill testified before the commonwealth’s Housing Committee. Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone, among others, have stood behind the bill. MA Housing Partnership Executive Director Clark Ziegler testified that the average single-family home in metropolitan Boston takes up over one acre of land, which is about equal to one NFL football field. The size of these properties has less to do with what people want and more with what local zoning restrictions demand. Even though most buyers prefer homes on smaller lots in neighborhoods that are more walkable, zoning laws make these homes more difficult to put together. Many communities ban the building of multi-family homes altogether.

It isn’t news to say that the cost of renting housing (or the cost of taxes on owned property) in Massachusetts continues to spike. We’re still picking our jaws off the floor after reading this article about wages and rental costs. Even short-term rental properties face increased regulations and pricing. Residents statewide are feeling trapped—some areas are simply becoming too expensive for people to afford.

low-income-housing-massachusettsModerate and Low Income Residences

One of the goals of the bill is to address the lack of low- and moderate-income housing stock in Massachusetts. If passed into law, the bill would require communities to report the ratio of employed residents and available, reasonably priced housing. It will also help measure the negative effects of certain kinds of development in particular communities (e.g., building football-field-sized properties in low-income neighborhoods). The bill represents hope for an increasingly difficult housing market, but advocates have had trouble prioritizing it over short-term-agenda items like neighborhood safety and the energy efficiency of housing units.

Massachusetts Housing Boom

The average MA home sale price in August were $359,000, three percent higher than it was in 2014. Despite these concerns, The Warren Group reported in early October that there had been more than 6,000 single-family home sales in Augustmore than any month since August 2005. Home sales were up 16% from August 2014. Many expect the number of sales to continue to increase into autumn.

The Housing Committee is reviewing a total of six bills related to housing. The bills cover topics such as the expedited construction of multifamily housing (buildings with 20 or more units); the general increase of lower-income housing; and the investigation of the shortage of accessible homes for people with disabilities, veterans, and the elderly.

The real question is, where do you stand? Are more housing developments the answer to the increased need for housing in Massachusetts?

Rolling Out the Welcome Mat for Artists in Central Massachusetts

Massachusetts is known as a place of innovation and achievement in fields such as technology, medicine and manufacturing. It is also home to a vibrant community of artists practicing a broad spectrum of creative disciplines. But these painters, sculptors, performance artists and countless other less-easily-categorized creatives, face significant challenges when seeking suitable work and living spaces.

Organizations like the Worcester Artists Group, the Fitchburg Art Museum (FAM) and Twin Cities Community Development Center are seeking to change that with plans already underway to develop several new artist spaces throughout Worcester and Fitchburg.


Central Mass. is in need of affordable spaces where artists can live and work.

For many working artists in central Mass., the cost of maintaining a separate residence and workspace can be well beyond their means, and some are forced to resort to questionable practices such as illegally living in a space not zoned as a residential area. Others may attempt to use hazardous materials or techniques at home, putting themselves and neighbors at serious risk.

Increasing the number of venues where artists, already on tight budgets, can live and work affordably would free up time and resources they now spend commuting to larger cities. The savings would allow artists to do more to benefit and enrich the community around them. The proposed developments will not only encourage the arts communities in central MA to flourish, but would also invigorate the local economy as their occupants live, work, shop and eat locally.

In Fitchburg, a plan to convert three buildings near the FAM is under review as community leaders assess the impact of the proposed 55 apartments and determine the best use of the 94,000 square feet of available space.

Worcester will also undertake similar deliberations as a part of broader downtown revitalization plans. Boasting several arts organizations and the world-renowned Worcester Art Museum, Worcester is considered a highly desirable location for artists. The city will be collaborating with organizers and potential residents to assist with development requests and zoning requirements.

The spaces up for consideration are not limited to the most obvious options. Worcester’s cultural development officer, Erin Williams, explained, “We need to think, not just about old mill buildings anymore, but empty supermarkets, empty church buildings that are not being used by their community, but vacant buildings in all their forms.”

Will the MBTA Cause the Demise of 2024 Boston Olympics?

At a Suffolk University panel convened in Boston on March 17th, there was a discussion regarding two closely related subjects: improved infrastructure and the possibility of hosting the world’s Olympic Summer games in 2024.

This past December, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said that the Olympics “allows us the opportunity to really talk to our partners in the state and federal government about upgrading the infrastructure that we have.” Additionally, a study by the state earlier in the year found that an Olympic bid would indeed be feasible.

The only problem? After a tough winter– as you may have heard, Boston had record snowfall at 107.6 inches– is estimated that the MBTA system has a backlog of $6.7 billion in needed work. With this amount of money needed, there aren’t many options.

One option would be to raise revenues or taxes. This could help not only solve existing problems, but tackle ones related to having a robust infrastructure for the upcoming Olympics. Current No Boston Olympics organizer and former MassDOT officer Chris Dempsey said that the pro-Olympics movement has objected to this.

Another option would be to simply address one issue or the other, leaving the other for future resolution. For better or worse, the Olympics would probably go by the wayside if it came down to this. While the Olympics could bring in extra revenue, it also can be a strain on the city, one that is not absolutely necessary.

The train stations that are already starting to undergo improvements include the Red and Orange line trains, along with the Government Center station. Incidentally, these renovations would also be needed if the Olympics were to take place. The expansion of South Station and upgrades on the JFK/UMass station would also be nearly necessary to host the Summer Olympics.

Study Says a Carefully Planned Boston Olympics Could Bring in Billions

As Boston prepares its bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, supporters and detractors have come out of the woodwork. However, according to a study done by The Boston Foundation and the UMass Donahue Institute, the Olympics could bring up to $4 billion to the state’s economy.

According to the study, the bulk of the revenues generated would come from the creation of 4,100 construction jobs during each of the six years needed to ready the city. In addition, the city could see increased revenue during the Olympic Games themselves with tourists adding an estimated $300 million. In addition, the study estimates that another 4,300 temporary jobs will be created just for the span of the Olympics.While the report outlines the economic benefits of having the Olympics in Boston, it also cautions against overspending with the warning that it would offset the economic benefits the Games would bring. Historically, other cities have exceeded their budgets for preparing for the Olympic Games by an average of 252 percent. The report points out that the International Olympic Committee has always exposed the host city to all financial obligations that come with hosting the games.

While the report outlines the economic benefits of having the Olympic Games in Boston, it also raises substantial questions about the fiscal viability of having an Olympic-sized budget for the games.

In addition to concerns with overspending, the report also points out shortfalls in public transportation and infrastructure that would need to be addressed. The report drew no conclusions as to the likelihood that Boston would receive a disproportionate amount of public money to improve its infrastructure. The study was also unable to determine how extensive these improvements would actually be.

Quincy Officials See New Project Jumpstarting Downtown Redevelopment

In recent years, the city of Quincy has demonstrated an impressive commitment to its economic growth and revitalization. It was, in fact, the first city in the Commonwealth to receive District Improvement Financing (DIF), a state program that enabled the city to create a district improvement financing zone in Quincy Center. The plan is to use the newly generated tax revenues from businesses moving into the refurbished district to fund other important city infrastructure projects.

A Master Tax Increment Financing (TIF) program has also been designated for the downtown area since 2005. This program awards those businesses who invest in Quincy Center and create new jobs a 5% local real estate tax exemption.  These businesses also become eligible for a state tax credit.

The City’s downtown redevelopment plan has been in the works for some time and, in contrast to the huge downtown redevelopment plan announced at the start of 2014, the current plan seems financially sound and quite modest in scope. Quincy’s City Council established a new zoning district, increasing the height allowances, easing density and parking requirements, and instituting a streamlined permitting process. This zoning district encourages mixed-use development that should add to the vitality of the downtown.

Quincy Mutual Fire Insurance and Gate Residential Properties are financing a 400-unit apartment building and $100 million retail project which will be the first portion of the redevelopment. Construction on a six-story apartment building containing 169 units will begin in early 2015 with completion targeted for 2016. This building will have 12,000 square feet of both retail and commercial space. A second building will follow which will have retail space and 220 apartments.

The mayor of Quincy, Thomas Koch stated that “Quincy Mutual’s commitment to the city and its persistence in seeing this vision through to reality is nothing short of extraordinary. This plan confirms what we’ve known for some time — that Quincy Center’s potential is ready to be captured. The joint venture between Quincy Mutual and Gate Residential brings together two companies with tremendous expertise and who are committed to getting this project completed”.

Quincy Mutual has been in Quincy since its establishment in 1851. Quincy Mutual President and CEO K. Douglas Briggs also prepared a statement “Quincy is our hometown. More than half of our employees are residents of Quincy and adjacent communities, so what happens here has always been important to our company and the community. We are now partnered for West of Chestnut with a developer in which we have great confidence”.

The news release also included a statement from James Moran the executive vice president of Quincy Mutual: “We have the right team in place, and with Gate Residential we have a developer who fully understands this market and knows how to build projects with luxurious amenities that will appeal to individuals who value easy access to Boston in a relaxed urban environment.”.

Gate Residential, which is a division of Redgate Holdings LLC, also made a statement through its principal, Damian Szary, which said “West of Chestnut offers residents outstanding amenities and vibrant urban living in a historic community, conveniently located on the Red Line. West of Chestnut marks a new chapter for Quincy Center, and we’re excited to announce this terrific team that will build the type of project that will attract a new wave of young professionals to Downtown Quincy.”.

Other companies participating in the project are Graffito SP of Cambridge and Landworks Studio Inc., Sheskey Architects, and Duffy Design Group, all of Boston.

Quincy Center was due for a $1.6 billion overhaul by Street-Works, a developer from White Plains, New York, but the plan was deemed unfeasible and was terminated in April, 2014.

Worcester Chamber to Host Debate of Boston Olympics Bid

The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce is about to host a debate discussing the pros and cons of Boston winning its bid to host the 2024 Olympics Games. The debate will be held as two separate functions, and is intended to discuss the possible implications for Worcester should Boston become the host city.

Representatives from the Boston 2024 Partnership, sponsors for the bid to bring the Olympics to Massachusetts, as well as their opponents, No Boston Olympics, will present their arguments to chamber members. This debate will address the potential impacts of Boston becoming the host city and Worcester’s potential level of involvement should that occur.

The discussion will begin on Tuesday, March 10, with opening statements from Richard Davey, former state transportation secretary and CEO of the Boston 2024 Partnership group. He will be discussing the partnership’s plan to run a cost-effective event using private funds, existing facilities and temporary venues. He will also discuss the organization’s belief that hosting the Olympics will greatly contribute to the commonwealth’s long-term growth.

On Friday, March 13, the debate will continue with statements from Chris Dempsey and Kelley Gossett, co-chairs of No Boston Olympics. The group believes that a pattern of overspending, years of construction, and few proven economic benefits for past host cities, make hosting an undesirable choice for Boston. They will discuss their view that the state should maintain its budgetary focus on schools and rebuilding transportation infrastructure.

A first time bidder in the Olympics, Boston beat out other major cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington D.C. to become the official U.S. entrant. While its bid is heavily dependent on the use of existing facilities such as Gillette Stadium and the TD Garden, several venues would have to be constructed before Boston could host an international event on the scale of the Olympics.  This list would have to include – at a minimum – a temporary stadium able to seat more than 60,000, a velodrome, and an aquatics center.

Boston’s bid was privately funded by the Suffolk Construction Company, and has continued to gather more than $11 million in private funds.

Unfortunately, attendance for these debates is restricted to Chamber members only and will not be open to public. If you are unable to attend, watch this space for further details as they become public after the debates.


Worcester Chamber Looks at Springfield Casinos as Model


Downtown_Springfield,_MAIn what could soon become a blueprint for other regions to follow when planning for urban development, the proposed MGM Springfield casino is being set up to embrace its surrounding community rather than shut it out or physically divide it. According to James Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International, their $800 million casino project planned for Springfield’s South End hopes to establish a new model for the company’s casino communities.

One person closely watching the situation is the President and CEO of Worcester’s Regional Chamber of Commerce, Timothy Murray, who says, “Their vision is to create a new paradigm that’s outward looking and encourages the kind of cross-pollenization of locally owned businesses.”

Murray’s interest in the nearby project is directly related to Worcester’s $565 million CitySquare development project that is still under design. The hope is that the hotels and other needed developments in the downtown area for this project will be assessed carefully.

Murray, former mayor of Worcester as well as the Commonwealth’s former lieutenant governor, compared the potential of this project to those of the past. According to Murray, instead of opening up new possibilities, a project may end up dividing the city like the Worcester Center Galleria ended up doing. During his time as Mayor of Worcester, Murray oversaw the demolition of that mall, the space it once occupied now being used for the CitySquare project.

Muuray said the project, “is about undoing what the mall created and creating a true mixed-use district.”  It’s hoped that MGM Springfield will similarly embrace its surroundings and not  simply create an obstruction to community use of an urban area.


Massachusetts a Leader in LEED-certified Construction

For the third consecutive year, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts ranks among the U.S. Green Building Council‘s Top 10 in the US.

The rankings consider sustainable building design, construction, restoration and rehabilitation and, in terms of square feet per capita, Massachusetts is fifth-best in the country for projects that adhere to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, adding 99 LEED-certified projects last year.

The top four states, from bottom to top, are: Virginia, Maryland, Colorado, and Illinois.

Matthew Beaton, the state’s Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary, said that the ranking was an endorsement of Massachusetts’s requirement that all new construction and major renovations meet the state’s LEED Plus green building standard. “Clean energy is yielding significant economic benefits with 10.5 percent job growth in the last year and 47 percent growth since 2010,” said Beaton.

The standard demands that energy performance for the new or renovated building be at least 20 percent better than the state’s building energy code, that the outdoor water consumption must be reduced by at least 50 percent, and that the indoor water consumption be reduced by at least 20 percent. In addition, principles of smart growth and smart energy must be promoted.

Presently, there are 37 LEED-certified buildings in the state, with 70 percent of them certified either gold or platinum.

Beaton said in a statement, “This recognition is another example of Massachusetts’ commitment to strengthening our economy, shaping our energy future and protecting our environment through clean jobs and technology.”

The numbers bear those comments out, with almost 6,000 clean energy-related businesses in Massachusetts, employing a total of over 88,000 workers.

Beaton also pointed out that Massachusetts was again – for the fourth consecutive year – named by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy as the top state in the country in energy efficiency.

The End of AstraZeneca in Westborough

The AstraZeneca plant in Westborough has announced it will shut its doors permanently by the end of 2015. This is the final step the company has taken to shut down the plant, having already decreased employee levels there from 800 to just 180.  More employees will be relieved by March, but others will remain employed until the company closes at the end of 2015.

The closing of the facility means the city of Westborough will lose its biggest taxpayer. The AstraZeneca plant pays the city an estimated $2 million in total; $360,000 in property taxes and $1,548,547 for equipment taxes. Residents and businesses in Westborough will begin to feel the pinch of the revenue loss in fiscal year 2017.

City officials hope to fill the vacancy quickly.   The building is 420,000 square feet and could be a great site for a wide spectrum of businesses.

The AstraZeneca plant processed the asthma treatment Pulmicort Respules, which will now be produced at the company’s locations in Sweden and Australia. A company representative stated the move is to attain “increased efficiencies in our global supply chain.”

AstraZeneca will continue to house its research-and-development operations in Massachusetts, with facilities in both Waltham and Cambridge.