Welcome to Ask a Rental Agent..., part of Renters Week 2012 here at Curbed Boston. Nick Warren, president and C.E.O. of Warren Residential Group, is here to answer readers' questions on renting in the Hub. Email us your questions today and get an answer later this week!
Where can you rent a decent 1-BR apartment in Boston for under $2,000?
This question is a bit tough to answer perfectly since everyone's opinion of "decent" is different. Some renters might value location way above having an updated apartment, while others will sacrifice a great neighborhood as long as the apartment has granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances.
I think the best way to answer it is to give a few examples of what you might find in different neighborhoods and then a person can decide on what makes a "decent" apartment.
Back Bay—This one is tough. Only 13 of the 78 one-bedroom apartments that rented in the past three months went for $2,000 or less (according to MLS) so pickings are slim. Only 10 of these were in Back Bay proper (between Arlington and Mass. Ave.) and the average living area was 517 square feet. They only lasted an average of 22 days on the market, so you had to act quick. You typically found hardwood floors but small, un-renovated kitchens and bathrooms.
South End—This is a large neighborhood with lots of sub-neighborhoods that can vary drastically in price. Ten of the 51 one-bedroom apartments that rented in the past three months were for $2,000 or less (according to MLS) so you have even less choice here vs. Back Bay. Depending on location in the South End, you can occasionally find apartments with renovated kitchens and baths (don't expect Sub Zero or Viking but sometimes some very basic stainless steel packages can be found). The closer you are to the Back Bay border, the more expensive they get. Average square footage for a one-bedroom apartment under $2,000 in the South End was 564 (you get about 10 percent more space here vs. Back Bay); and they only lasted an average of 14 days on the market, so bring your checkbook!
Charlestown—I wish there was more inventory in Charlestown. It's a great place for renters to go if they are looking for a bit more bang for their buck. Unfortunately, only 20 one-bedrooms were rented in the past three months there; and what's even worse is only five were under $2,000. The average square footage of these one-bedrooms was 751 (what a difference compared to the South End!) and were only on the market for 13 days. Here you can find a renovated kitchen and bath if you are okay with a little less square footage compared to the average, or you can get more space, but expect a mid 1990s renovation. Unfortunately, no one-bedrooms in Charlestown's Navy Yard went of under $2,000 in the past three months.
South Boston—Southie has really transformed in the past few years. The addition of some luxury buildings, along with a handful of new, great restaurants (and Foodies opening soon!), has created quite the demand for this once "tough" neighborhood. That doesn't mean you can't live there for $2,000 or less, though! Of the 31 one-bedrooms that rented in Southie over the past three months, 19 of them went for less than $2,000. Most of these were on the neighborhood's west side, which has traditionally been a bit more affordable but we even saw a few on the east side. You can expect an average of 677 square feet and less than 10 days on the market. The better locations will generally have had kitchen renovations about 10 to 15 years ago, while some units, like 102 Dorchester Street, a 720-square-foot one-bedroom, have been completely renovated (and, in this case, include a beautiful common roof deck).
So, as you can see, you can certainly find a one-bedroom in downtown Boston. Whether or not it's "decent" is more of a personal choice. A good rental agent will sit with you to find out what makes an apartment "decent" in your mind and then use his or her local knowledge of the inventory to show you only the ones that meet that criteria, saving you time and frustration!
Want to follow up with Nick further? Email him here.
· Our Renters Week 2012 archive [Curbed Boston]