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Should You Buy or Rent in Boston?

Thinking of living in Boston? The historical significance, famous brownstones, and unique outdoor recreation make Beantown one of the best places to live on the East Coast—and a prime location for home buyers and renters alike! If you’re considering moving to Boston but aren’t sure whether you should buy or rent, begin by asking yourself these questions:

  • How familiar are you with the Boston area?
  • How long do you plan to live in Boston?
  • Do you want to live close to the Boston Harbor?
  • Can you afford to buy or rent in your preferred neighborhood?

Now that you’ve thought about these questions, you’re ready to begin your research! Explore the pros and cons of buying vs. renting in Boston below!

Jump to: Best Places to Buy a Home in Boston | Best Places to Rent a Home in Boston

Reasons to Buy in Boston

Exterior brick row style housing next two side walk

Photo via @reigandlosordo

While buying a home in Boston is a big commitment, there are some definite advantages to owning your home, including the possibility of more space and the ability to build equity! Below are a few things to consider when investing in the Boston real estate market.

Strong Housing Market

Compared to other nearby housing markets, the Boston real estate market is strong yet approachable. Though homes within the city limits can be more difficult to come by—and more expensive—there’s growing inventory and new construction in Boston area suburbs.

Appreciating Value

Home value in Boston has risen by 170% since 2000, increasing by 15.3% in 2020 alone, which makes home appreciation a major reason why the Boston housing market is so strong. And while the city’s lack of inventory means many homes are selling at prices higher than list value, trends show purchasing a home in the greater Boston metro will yield a year-over-year return on investment to future home sellers.

Build Equity

Buying a house in Boston can help you build home equity. As you continue to pay your mortgage, your equity increases. Additionally, an increase in a home’s value through significant renovations can potentially boost a homeowner’s equity. Keep in mind, however, that historic homes can’t be altered as significantly as newer residences in order to protect their charm and antiquity.

Lower Mortgage Rates

Unlike renting a home, where landlords can increase rent prices at the end of a lease agreement, buying a Boston house can mean paying the same mortgage expenses each month for the life of your loan. 15-year and 30-year mortgages are quite common, and with interest rates near historic lows, there’s a possibility of locking in a low mortgage rate when you purchase a home.

Tax Benefits

Boston offers residential tax exemptions to those who own their homes and use it as their primary residence. By taking a standard deduction, you pay a determined, fixed amount to deduct from your residential tax—many homeowners have saved more than $3,000 from this exemption. You can also itemize your your deductions, which can be 100% tax deductible! The Suffolk County property tax is .77%, so Boston homeowners who itemize could potentially save $3,500.

Room to Work from Home

The increase in remote work has expanded the need for more in-home space. The average size of a Boston apartment is 810 square feet, while the living space in a Boston house is about 1,127 square feet, so owning a Boston home could mean you have more space for working from home.

Customize Your Space

You can make your home your own by remodeling any of the rooms, adding personalized details to your space, or working on specific home improvements when you buy a house in Boston! If you choose to rent a home, there are only so many temporary changes you are allowed to make.

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Best Places to Buy a Home in Boston

Below are the Boston neighborhoods you should check out if you’re interested in buying a home!

Allston-Brighton

Exterior gray colored multi level home

Photo via @raveisboston

  • Home Price: $306,048 median purchase price
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 88% of Boston neighborhoods

Bordered by the Charles River to the north, Allston-Brighton provides residents with an urban-suburban feel, blending green space and condo buildings with an abundance of restaurants, shops, and nightlife establishments. On top of that, Allston-Brighton’s location near Boston College, Harvard Business School, and Boston University make it a desirable location.

Back Bay-Beacon Hill

  • Home Price: $776,224 median purchase price
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 38% of Boston neighborhoods

Back Bay and Beacon Hill combine to make one of the best neighborhoods in Boston! Riverfront property, brownstone homes, close proximity to Downtown Boston, and the Boston Public Market are what attract home buyers to this area—as do expansive neighborhood green spaces like the Charles River Esplanade and Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

Charlestown

  • Home Price: $426,124 median purchase price
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 63% of Boston neighborhoods

A few minutes from Downtown Boston and Boston Logan International Airport is Charlestown, one of the best neighborhoods in Boston for families. This family-friendly community is extremely walkable, provides access to historic landmarks like Bunker Hill, and offers a variety of brick townhomes and Colonial-style houses near highly-rated schools like Warren Prescott School and Harvard-Kent Elementary School.

Hyde Park

  • Home Price: $324,484 median purchase price
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 56% of Boston neighborhoods

Hyde Park is an urban-suburban neighborhood bordered by green spaces like George Wright Golf Course and Neponset River Reservation. About 25 minutes outside of the city center, this quiet neighborhood offers affordable housing options for home buyers seeking single-family properties in the Greater Boston metro. Plus, Hyde Park is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Boston!

Reasons to Rent in Boston

Maybe buying a house in Boston isn’t an option, or you aren’t sure how long you plan to stay in the city. Flexibility, predictable monthly expenses, and lower insurance costs are all reasons why renting a home in Boston is a great choice!

Increasing Home Prices

The Boston median home price is approximately 129% higher than the national average, with house prices rising by nearly 5% yearly since 2000. While home values continue to appreciate, this also means home buyers are looking at higher initial listing prices and potential bidding wars.

Limited Housing Supply

Renters make up a majority of Boston’s population, not just because of how expensive it is to purchase a house, but also because the Boston real estate market has a limited housing supply. Since 2020, the inventory of single-family houses for sale in Boston has decreased by more than 40%. Even if you can afford to buy in your preferred neighborhood, there may be a lack of homes to choose from.

Predictable Monthly Expenses

By choosing to rent in Boston, you sign a lease saying you will pay your landlord a fixed monthly rent for the length of the agreement. That means renters have the benefit of consistent rent rates, whereas homeowners sign adjustable-rate mortgages and need to budget for property taxes.

Lower Insurance Costs

Equivalent to a homeowners insurance policy, renters are required to keep a renters insurance policy. However, a renters policy is substantially less expensive than a homeowners policy, which means Boston renters save a considerable amount in insurance costs. While many insurance policies have limits, renters policies often cover most, if not all, of a resident’s belongings.

Geographic Flexibility

A benefit of renting, especially in Boston, is the flexibility of experiencing different neighborhoods before settling down in a permanent place. This gives you an opportunity to find communities you like living in and get a feel for the types of homes you would prefer to live in.

Less Maintenance

Say goodbye to mowing lawns, raking leaves, and shoveling snow when you rent in Boston! In most cases, landlords are in charge of exterior maintenance of Boston rental homes, as well as interior improvements and repairs. That means if your pipes are backed up, you don’t have to worry about contracting a plumber yourself.

Amenities

Residents in Boston who decide to rent generally have access to unique amenities with their rental properties. Whether it’s access to a fitness center, pool, or event space, rental homes and apartments have the added benefit of additional co-use spaces!

Best Places to Rent a Home in Boston

Below are the Boston neighborhoods you should check out if you’re interested in renting a home!

East Boston

Exterior of multi level apartment building

Photo via @eastieeddy

  • Home Price: $1,107 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 69% of Boston neighborhoods

With gorgeous waterfront views of the city skyline, East Boston lies just across the water from Downtown Boston and Charlestown. While the neighborhood is right next to Boston Logan International Airport, which can make it a little louder than other residential areas, Eastie residents have access to all kinds of local amenities, including East Boston’s historic waterfront, Belle Isle Marsh, and Constitution Beach Park!

Dorchester

  • Home Price: $1,205 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 25% of Boston neighborhoods

One of the city’s first established communities, Dorchester tops the city’s charts in diversity, which is reflected in its local businesses and community events. You can find all kinds of cuisine in this Beantown area, from Caribbean-influenced meals at Raphael’s Restaurant to Italian fine dining at Venezia. No wonder this is one of the best Boston neighborhoods for food lovers!

Jamaica Plain

Exterior of multi level apartment building with green accents and multi level porches

Photo via @neatherybcool

  • Home Price: $1,343 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 50% of Boston neighborhoods

At the southern tip of the Emerald Necklace, Jamaica Plain is a haven for outdoorsy individuals who still want the conveniences of an urban neighborhood. Known to locals as JP, this classic streetcar Boston neighborhood is characterized by natural areas like Jamaica Pond, Olmsted Park, and the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University.

Roslindale

Modern apartment building complex exterior shot of courtyard

Photo via @veloaptsboston

  • Home Price: $1,029 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 81% of Boston neighborhoods

Originally founded as Boston’s “garden suburb” with quaint community parks, hiking trails, and golf courses, Roslindale is a hot spot for renters who want a family-friendly community mixed with accessible business districts like Roslindale Village, which boasts more than 100 shops, restaurants, businesses, and a local farmers market.

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Whether you plan to buy or rent in Boston, Extra Space Storage has convenient self storage facilities located throughout the Boston metro that can help with your transition. Find a storage unit near you today!

Neighborhood statistics from AreaVibes

Riverside view of Boston skyline
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