Report: Despite plunging costs, Boston is still the 3d priciest for renters

Fall House Hunt Renting
San Francisco and New York City were the priciest rental markets. Adobe Stock

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. San Francisco saw the biggest year-over-year drop in rental costs in September, but Boston wasn’t far behind, according to a report the online listing site Zumper released Thursday.

The median price for a one-bedroom apartment in the City by the Bay was $2,830 in September, a 20.3 percent decrease compared with the same month in 2019, which may position New York City to overtake it as the nation’s priciest market for renters, according to the report. “While there is evidence of new renters taking advantage of historic price drops and moving to both San Francisco and New York, New York’s migration inflows have returned to pre-March levels, while San Francisco’s have not. Both cities continued to experience large migration outflows, but the differences in the two city’s migration inflows may explain their diverging price trends and could lead to rental prices in New York stabilizing faster than in San Francisco.”

In Boston, the median price of a one-bedroom unit, $2,300, reflects a decrease of 8.4 percent, making the city the third most expensive rental market. Providence ranked 16th with a median price of $1,540.

(College neighborhoods see rents drop dramatically.)

Overall, the median rents for one-bedroom and two-bedroom units nationwide remained relatively stable, slipping 0.1 percent to $1,231 and $1,489, respectively.


“Expensive cities continued to decrease in rental prices last month, with yearly drops largely led by the nation’s seven most expensive cities: San Francisco, New York, Boston, San Jose, Oakland, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.,” according to the report. “The cheapest 10 cities on this list averaged 2.2 percent in median price growth last month compared with 4.8 percent the month prior.”

(Check out: Our running list of the cost to rent in every Boston neighborhood.)

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