Categories: City Life

The Issue of Cost of Living in Boston

Covid changed everything. From the way that we communicate to the way that we treat each other. No one alive today is the same they were before the pandemic.

One thing that did not change however, was capitalism. For the last several years, cost of living in Boston has been steadily increasing. Gone are the days of “Oh my landlord knocked a couple of hundred bucks off my rent.” Now all you hear are stories involving on time rental payments, sloppy air conditioning, bugs, wafer thin walls, and consistently increasing rent prices. 

1. The Justifications

During the pandemic when no one was working, some rent prices went down. Not mine personally, we just received an email that said essentially (Hey the pandemic is bad and that sucks. Please sign this paper that says you can’t sue us if you get Covid while at this complex and rent is due on the first. We are all in this together)

Post Pandemic however, when you confront your landlord about why your rent would be going up if you are always on time, you are met almost universally with the phrase, “Well our prices are set by consumer demand. A lot of people are in line to live here, and they are willing to pay more. What we are charging you is actually less than what they are offering.” Followed quickly by something to the effect of if you don’t like it you can get out.

Landlords know your payment info. They know how much you make, as they make you tell them when you apply, and yet they still increase rent to un-affordable levels. Why? I guess there’s nothing like the view of extreme poverty to make a cocktail party really swing. “Trickle down economics” maybe. 

2. The Costs

Massachusetts has historically had extremely high cost of living. According to worldpopulationreport.com, Massachusetts is sitting comfortably at number five of top ten most expensive states to live in. Being “beaten” (if it is a contest) by Oregon, New York, California, and Hawaii.

On average, the cost of rent for a one bedroom in Massachusetts dances around 2,800 dollars a month to 3,000 a month. Let me say that again. For a ONE bedroom, it is almost 3000 dollars a month. That doesn’t even mention the living in Boston specifically cost. Living in Boston, the average for a one bedroom is 3634 a month. 

3. The Pay

Now that we can see how much it costs for JUST a roof. Let’s talk about wages. 46 percent of jobs in Massachusetts pay less than 50,000 a year. The hourly rate for a job where you make 50,000 a year is 24.51. At 80 hours a week, a job that pays 24 an hour amounts to about 1500 a paycheck. That isn’t taking into taxes and insurance by the way. That’s just a flat number.

So let’s say you have a one bedroom apartment outside of Boston. And your rent is actually a little less than the average rent, so you are paying 2500 a month. That means that 100% of one of your monthly checks goes to rent alone. Then when you get paid again, the other 1000 dollars goes to rent again. The remaining 500 goes to electricity, internet, gas, your car note, your insurance, your food, and if you want a coffee sometime. However, unfortunately you ran out of money after you paid your insurance. So no coffee for you. Please remember, this was a breakdown of cheaper than average. It’s STILL not enough.

Bringing it back to Covid. One thing Covid showed everyone, is that we do not get paid enough for what we do. More and more people are living with their parents well into their 20’s. This is commonly called mooching. When in reality, it is simply too expensive to live on your own, and companies do not pay enough. Are some companies trying to do more? Yes, but it is still not enough.

4. The Consequence

As of 2020, Massachusetts has an estimated 17,000 homeless people in the streets at any given time. Remember earlier we talked about highest cost of living per state? Massachusetts is part of another list. Top Ten Highest Homeless Population. Massachusetts is number 6. Washington, Texas, Florida, New York, and California are the only one’s ahead. 

See Also

Am I saying that the homeless problem is solely about cost of living in Boston? Of course not. I am however 1000 percent certain that it has something to do with it. People want to work, just like how people want to live, but what is your motivation to work if you are never provided with enough for that work?

I understand it is more complicated than wages. I’ll even say I understand it when Landlords say there is high demand. Because there is a lack of housing (and affordable housing) issue, and that ties into a lack of funding, is the money going to the correct places? My opinion is that people need their fair share of money as well, so we can survive long enough to be a part of the overall conversation of societal advancement. If we are constantly worried about this bill or that bill, we can’t do anything to help our community.

5. The Solution?

To me it seems simple. In fact, it can be solved two ways. Reduce rent across the board. People are running out of money. The ones that make enough, don’t make enough to save.

If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, raise wages. Put down your pitchforks, I know you want to say “Hark! Wouldn’t that make everything cost more?” Everything already costs more. Gas is at almost 6 dollars a gallon. I don’t remember my paychecks getting bigger, do you? If High Cost is a ship, that ship has already left the port. It has left the port, circumnavigated the globe, and returned to port laden with exotic spices. Living in Boston requires more. More than a variety of workplaces are currently willing to provide.

That might all be a little grim for you, I’ll throw you some common ground. I love Boston. LOVE it, it’s a great city, rich with History and a great Community. It’s worth living in, and it’s worth working hard to live in. The point of this article is not to criticize the city, the state, or it’s lovely people. It’s to criticize the issue of living in Boston.

We want to be here, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. Because why wouldn’t you want to live in this remarkable city? Just dial it back a little bit, if we have money in our accounts at night I promise you’ll see an increase of positive output in the world.

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Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a fledgling, (but passionate) journalist and photographer for Society 19 and Marker. What began as a hobby is now a driving force for a new career path. He lives and continues to write non-stop in Boston. His first article was published in 2022 by Society 19. Reach out to him today.

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