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Boston-Area Rents: Make Less, Pay More—and Vice Versa

It wasn't always like this

Boston-area rents are, of course, some of the highest in the United States, and that reality creates curious phenomena. Case in point: Tenants in some of the region's priciest neighborhoods for renting pay smaller shares of their income in rent, while those in less expensive areas pay greater proportions.

WGBH has drilled down into the latest available data and found nagging quirks such as this:

In parts of Back Bay, Fenway, South End and downtown Boston — where the average one-bedroom apartment rents for $3,000 or more — residents are, on average, paying between a quarter and a third of their household income on rent.

In neighborhoods like Roxbury, Mattapan, parts of Dorchester and East Boston, and many areas surrounding downtown Boston ... the average renter is paying more than a third, or even more than half of their income on rent.

Lest one assume it's always been so, note this: In 2000, according to WGBH, "there were relatively few areas" where tenants were paying on average more than about one-third of their incomes on rent. A large number were paying under one-quarter, in fact. Check out the comparative maps below. The bluish areas are where tenants are spending a lot of income on rent.