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Are renters getting priced out of the suburbs?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis  September 21, 2012 06:33 AM

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Rents are skyrocketing in the suburbs as well as the city.

And that's presenting renters with a choice buyers in perpetually-too-expensive Greater Boston have long faced, of either moving farther out in search of a better deal or paying up in order to stay closer to work.

In fact, many renters are in danger of being pushed out beyond 495 in search of a deal, a situation middle-income buyers have long faced in the Boston area.

The western suburbs are seeing some of the steepest rent increases in the country, while the northern burbs are not far behind.

Middlesex County, for example, ranks up in the top ten markets in the country experiencing the steepest rent increases, with a 9.6 percent increase in median rents in August, according to Trulia.

And many towns are seeing even bigger increases than that.

Meanwhile, renters north of Boston and in the Merrimack Valley are faced with a similar escalation, with an 8.9 percent increase from 2007 to the first half of 2012.

Here's a piece I just wrote for the Globe West on the tough situation many prospective renters in the suburbs now face.

It's a landscape in which available apartments are dwindling, rents are rising and landlords are going fee crazy.

Both upscale suburbs and more middle income towns are seeing big increases, according to Zillow.com, which tracks both traditional apartments and homes for rent.

Leading the pack are towns like Arlington, which saw asking rents post a more than 14 percent, year-over-year increase in July, to a median of $2,416.

Wellesley saw asking rents rise 6.7 percent, to $3,547, giving it the highest median rent in the western suburbs, with Newton not far behind at nearly $3,000.

But it's not just the tony towns, as I said, that are becoming more expensive for renters - Plainville, Franklin and Millis also all saw double digit rent increases.

And there is likely to be little relief in the near future, with most of the new apartment construction in the area focused on luxury units, and much of that in Boston.

As prices escalate, will 495 become the new dividing line for renters?

What's your take?

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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