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Cambridge’s average apartment rent highest among small U.S. cities east of the Rockies, report says

Boston’s average up there, too, among large cities

A statue of a man seated overlooking a busy square in a city. Shutterstock

Cambridge was the most expensive small city in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains for renting an apartment as of July 1, according to a recent report from listings and research site RentCafe.

The site tracked market-rate listings in buildings and complexes with at least 50 units, so it certainly misses a swath of some locales’ markets. But it’s pretty much in line with other recent analyses of the Boston-area housing market.

The average apartment rent in Cambridge increased a net $165 a month during the first half of 2019, to $3,210. That put Cambridge’s average well ahead of the next most expensive east of the Rockies: Jersey City, New Jersey, where the average was $2,932 as of July 1.

In general, the nation’s priciest small cities—”small” defined as fewer than 300,000 residents—were clustered on the West Coast. The most expensive nationwide, in fact, was San Mateo, a San Francisco suburb, where the average rent was $3,349. That means Cambridge finished second nationwide.

Boston, too, ranked high in its cohort in terms of average rent. Among the largest cities that RentCafe surveyed, Boston finished second among those east of the Rockies—behind only the NYC borough of Manhattan—with an average rent by July 1 of $3,509. It was the third most expensive large city for renting nationwide.

There are myriad reasons for such high rents in the Boston area, including zoning regs, opposition to multifamily development, and a growth in population that has caused demand for housing to perennially outstrip supply.