In terms of local culture, Cambridge is as much a part of Boston as Dunkin Donuts and the Patriots. When it comes to the real estate and the local apartment rental market, however, Cambridge stands out as its own entity.
For decades Cambridge has been mentioned separately from Boston as being one the premier real estate markets in the country. Median home prices and average rent prices were always relatively high for Cambridge apartments, and that has never been more true than in 2020. While we are cognizant of the fact that we are in the midst of the corona crisis, we are confident that when life returns to normal, the trends you see below will adjust back towards these year around averages.
Over the past 12 months, Cambridge has slowly eclipsed Brookline in average rent prices for 3 bedroom and 4 bedroom apartments. While Brookline saw a decline in prices of those larger size units, Cambridge saw steady growth in prices for all size apartments over the last year.
The immense talent pool of Harvard and MIT have made Cambridge a favorite among venture capital firms, particularly those in the biotech industries. Venture Walk ranks Boston and Cambridge as the 4th and 5th metros with the most funding committed in 2019, each pulling in about $3 Billion dollars in new deals. The only other metro that pulled in more venture capital is San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
The local real estate market in Cambridge has largely been fueled by this capital over the past decade, taking advantage of the steady influx of new residents that have come with such opportunity. We’ve seen some pretty incredible growth in Greater Boston in the past decade, and Cambridge certainly throws a big punch in the economic ring.
Average Rent Prices in Cambridge
Cambridge is outpacing rental price growth by my more than 2X compared to Boston for 3 bedroom and 4 bedroom apartments. The price for 1 bedroom apartments in Cambridge interestingly grew by a lesser margin compared to the average of the City of Boston. This table validates the facts that a sizable portion of Greater Boston growth in recent years has been fueled by Cambridge.
AVG RENT PRICE 1BR AVERAGE RENT PRICE 2BR AVERAGE RENT PRICE 3BR AVERAGE RENT PRICE 4BR CAMBRIDGE CAMBRIDGE CAMBRIDGE CAMBRIDGE $2,367 $2,881 $3,532 $4,636 1.15% 3.60% 2.47% 2.84% AVG RENT PRICE 1BR AVERAGE RENT PRICE 2BR AVERAGE RENT PRICE 3BR AVERAGE RENT PRICE 4BR BOSTON BOSTON BOSTON BOSTON $2,192 $2,606 $3,088 $3,737 2.29% 2.56% 1.11% 1.58%
As such, renters should expect prices in Cambridge to rival that of some of the areas close to downtown Boston, and in some neighborhoods even exceed them. Among the top suburbs in Boston in terms of average rent price, Cambridge sticks out clearly as the most expensive area to rent an apartment. They have the highest average rent price for 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom, 4 bedroom and 5 bedroom apartments in comparison to the other larger suburb markets of Boston. For 3 bedroom apartments, Cambridge fell in close 2nd to that of Brookline’s highest price of $3,551. Compared to the city of Boston, it’s anywhere from 10-25% more expensive on average to rent an apartment in Cambridge, depending on the size of the unit.
In terms of neighborhoods within Cambridge, the more expensive areas tend to be South closer to local universities, and renters looking for a deal may find luck west in Mt. Auburn or North in Porter Square. There are also some fair prices to be found in Kendall Square if you look in the right time of year.
Town Neighborhood Studio Apartment 1BR Apartment 2BR Apartment 3BR Apartment 4BR Apartment 5 BR Apartment All Areas $1,803.00 $2,157.00 $2,566.00 $3,093.00 $3,800.00 $4,552.00 City Of Boston $1,827.00 $2,192.00 $2,606.00 $3,088.00 $3,737.00 $4,460.00 Outside Boston $1,709.00 $2,079.00 $2,492.00 $3,104.00 $3,923.00 $4,706.00 CAMBRIDGE $1,945.00 $2,367.00 $2,881.00 $3,532.00 $4,636.00 $5,976.00 BROOKLINE $1,702.00 $2,358.00 $2,873.00 $3,546.00 $4,383.00 $5,440.00 SOMERVILLE $2,007.00 $2,089.00 $2,541.00 $3,129.00 $3,942.00 $4,623.00 ARLINGTON $1,867.00 $2,229.00 $2,546.00 $3,025.00 MEDFORD $1,383.00 $1,556.00 $2,090.00 $2,732.00 $3,471.00 $4,112.00 MALDEN $1,487.00 $1,698.00 $2,053.00 $2,328.00 $2,736.00 $3,613.00 NEWTON $1,731.00 $2,315.00 $2,536.00 $3,102.00 $4,162.00 $4,409.00 BOSTON – ALLSTON $1,689.00 $1,890.00 $2,400.00 $2,966.00 $3,820.00 $4,143.00
Harvard Square and Cambridgeport stick out as the most expensive neighborhoods In Cambridge in terms of average rent prices, especially for larger size apartments of 3, 4 and 5 bedrooms. While average rent prices in Davis Square are high for smaller apartments, renters could potentially score a deal on a larger size apartment in that area.
Neighborhood Bedroom 1 Bedroom 2 Bedroom 3 Bedroom 4 Bedroom 5 All Areas $2,157 $2,566 $3,093 $3,800 $4,552 City Of Boston $2,192 $2,606 $3,088 $3,737 $4,460 Outside Boston $2,079 $2,492 $3,104 $3,923 $4,706 CAMBRIDGE $2,367 $2,881 $3,532 $4,636 $5,976 CAMBRIDGE – ALEWIFE $2,300 $2,339 $1,385 CAMBRIDGE – CENTRAL SQUARE/CAMBRIDGEPORT $2,288 $2,855 $3,673 $4,700 $5,880 CAMBRIDGE – DAVIS SQUARE $2,900 $3,705 $3,225 $3,450 CAMBRIDGE – EAST CAMBRIDGE $2,255 $2,558 $3,413 $4,000 CAMBRIDGE – HARVARD SQUARE $2,489 $3,181 $4,128 $5,200 $7,379 CAMBRIDGE – INMAN SQUARE $2,118 $2,507 $3,324 $4,434 $4,650 CAMBRIDGE – KENDALL SQUARE $1,958 $2,429 $3,446 $4,327 $5,500 CAMBRIDGE – LECHMERE $2,180 $2,640 $2,949 $4,730 CAMBRIDGE – MT. AUBURN/BRATTLE/ FRESH POND $2,100 $2,344 $2,544 $4,198 $6,200 CAMBRIDGE – NORTH CAMBRIDGE $1,417 $2,633 $3,097 $4,900 $5,000 CAMBRIDGE – PORTER SQUARE $2,306 $2,862 $3,623 $4,485 $5,167
Cambridge Apartment Vacancy & Availability Rates
As far as apartment vacancy and inventory goes, Cambridge is one of the most highly competitive and fast moving markets in Greater Boston. Real-time vacancy rates and availability rates are among the lowest in the area despite an enormous number of apartment units in Cambridge in our inventory. Out of all the top suburbs of Greater Boston, Cambridge has the third lowest availability rate currently, behind only Newton and Arlington who don’t have as high a student population. Out of 6,000 non-luxury Cambridge apartments in our inventory, only 45 are currently vacant and available for immediate move-in, an astounding 0.79% Vacancy Rate. We may see the vacancy rate spike due to current economic crisis caused by the corona virus and we will keep you posted as events occur.
Neighborhood Total Apartments Total Available Non Luxury Real Time Availability Rate Total Vacant Non Luxury Real Time Vacancy Rate All Areas 151901 3311 4.61% 716 1.00% City Of Boston 122407 2327 5.49% 401 0.95% Outside Boston 31062 984 3.34% 315 1.07% CAMBRIDGE 6008 173 3.04% 46 0.81% BROOKLINE 5732 176 3.18% 56 1.01% SOMERVILLE 4893 214 4.44% 41 0.85% ARLINGTON 665 9 1.39% 7 1.08% MEDFORD 1676 55 3.39% 12 0.74% MALDEN 1560 163 10.90% 21 1.40% NEWTON 1758 28 1.61% 13 0.75% BOSTON – ALLSTON 4022 346 8.67% 25 0.63%
One of the most significant statistics regarding Cambridge’s apartment market is it’s overall availability inventory loss. In mid-March 2019, Cambridge had a Realtime Availability rate of 4.36%. Currently it’s Real-time Availability Rate sits at 2.78% a 65% reduction year over year in upcoming apartment inventory. The current Vacancy Rate of .79% is 40% below it’s mark of 1.15% in May of 2019, when we began tracking historical vacancy.
Despite such short term scarcity in apartment inventory, the savvy renter can take advantage of the yearly leasing cycle that arises from the constant student turnover. Great Cambridge apartments rarely stay on the market long, but if you know when to look you’ll be able to enjoy the most options. The availability rate tends to loosen around April in Cambridge, presenting renters with better options.
The Cambridge apartment experts founds here on Cambridge Pads can help help you find the perfect apartment with local knowledge and expertise found nowhere else. Our leasing agents work tirelessly calling on local Cambridge landlords to ensure our data is up-to-date in real time and accurate. It’s why more landlords trust us than any other local player when it comes to renting apartments in Cambridge, MA.
We do anticipate some apartment rental turnover and turbulence due to the corona virus as many students have left Boston and may try to sublet or break leases. Job losses could also make the vacancy rate climb quite fast. We will be here to help sift through the data and keep our audience posted on best renting practices for both tenants and property owners.
For landlords looking to get the most local exposure in Cambridge and beyond, team up with the powerful marketing technology of Boston Pads. Start by submitting your Cambridge listing for free, and your unit will be syndicated to over 80 local real estate websites and 100+ local social media pages where it will receive unprecedented local coverage. You’ll also have non-stop access to all the data and intelligence we use to make informed marketing decisions that increase your ROI.
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