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Should I But or Rent in Boston Right Now?

There comes a time for every family to decide whether buying their next home or renting in Boston is the best idea. There are benefits to each option, and your decision will really comes down to your personal preferences.

Your career, financial habits, and even your lifestyle can play big roles in this decision. Every family is different, which is why there is no right or wrong answer. There is also no secret formula that you can use to make this decision for you. This is why––while online calculators like TheUpshot are great for estimates and learning more about your market––even the most experienced real estate agents know that every client will carve their own path to home rental or ownership.

To help get you started with these important conversations, we have outlined some important questions to ask yourself. These questions may be some that you have considered, like what your budget will be, but some may not have been on your radar just yet. Explore all of these questions, and be honest about your answers; knowing exactly where you stand will help you make the decision that is right for you.



Boston buy or rent

The budget that you currently have plays a critical role in your decision. Money tends to be the biggest thing on everyone’s mind when it comes to purchasing or renting Boston real estate. You may want to buy a home or condo, but if you do not have the necessary funds to do so, then you will need to change direction and rent in Boston instead.

Also consider the neighborhood you want to live in. The entry into that neighborhood as a buyer may be more expensive than you can afford with you current list of “must-haves”––but if you are willing to sacrifice some of the preferences on your list to live in the neighborhood, then you may still be able to purchase a beautiful home in your ideal neighborhood.

Another big question to consider is whether or not you have enough cash to put down on a rental. You will need to have 20-35% of the purchase price of the home to be competitive in the Boston real estate market. This does not include closing costs. If you do not have this cash on-hand, you may need to wait a few years until you purchase a home.

On the other hand, to rent in Boston, you will also need to have 3-4 months of rent saved up before signing the lease. Your landlord may also want to verify that you have additional reserves saved up.


Another important question to ask yourself and your family is how long you plan on living in the area. You may not have an exact answer immediately, and most people don’t. However, to get a good idea of how long you plan on staying, you should ask yourself some important questions:

  • Do you have job security? If you are in fear of losing or leaving your job, you may not want to purchase immediately. If you do, then buying may be a good option because you have a predictable income.
  • Will you want to move neighborhoods in the future? You may not have any idea of this now, but if you do not know the area well, you may need to rent first to ensure you want to be there a while.
  • How long have you been in Boston? If you are new to the area, you should get to know the city better before purchasing a home. If you have been here a while, then buying is a good option because you’re more certain of your opinions and preferences of the many neighborhoods.


When it comes down to it, you need to determine what you want your daily life to be like. What are the surroundings you want? Do you want to be in the city all the time, or do you want to see more open space around you? Do you like the peace and quiet of the edges of Boston, or do you want to be on a lively block? These answers can help you determine whether to live in the city or in the suburbs. They can also help you determine which type of suburb is right for you if you do not want to live in the heart of the city.

You want to be happy with where you live––whether your purchase or rent.


This is likely something you didn’t think about yet. At the end of the day, how important is it to you to have the freedom of owning your own home? You may not even think about this consciously, but if you say things like, “I just want to own my home” or, “I want to have the freedom to make changes as I see fit,” then owning may be the best option for you, even if it is more expensive than you planned on. If your pride and freedom matter more to you than the money, then I would advise you to strongly consider purchasing your home.


Here is our final advice to individuals considering purchasing or renting in Boston: If you will only be here for 2.5 years or fewer, then it is best to rent in Boston. If you purchase not and want to sell later on, you will need to have 6-8.5% equity in the home to break even. This is because of the range of closing costs of 1-1.5% for the buyer and 5.5-6.5% as the seller. To make a profit on this investment, your property needs to increase in value. Otherwise, you will lose money in the deal.

Hopefully, these questions have helped you get closer to your decision between buying and renting the perfect home for you in Boston.

If you do decide to rent, our expert agents have created a Buyer’s Guide for you!

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