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Forbes: Worcester 3rd Worst Market for Housing Renters in US

By Tom Marino | April 19, 2024
Last Updated: April 19, 2024
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WORCESTER – A new report ranks the Worcester metro area the third worst real estate market for renters in the US. While rents continue to rise, residents in the city rank in the bottom five percent in income of the 351 municipalities in Massachusetts.

The report, by Forbes Advisor, found the Worcester metro area the third most competitive residential rental market of the top 75 most populated metro areas nationwide. Forbes found the most competitive metro area is the Virginia Beach metro area, followed by the New York City metro area.

The study ranked each metro area from 1 to 100, with Virginia Beach earning 100, New York earning 91.5, and Worcester earning a 90.29. The Honolulu, Hawaii area was ranked fourth, with an 88.66.

The study found that the Worcester metro area has 94.3 available rentals per 100,000 households, 7th worst of the areas included in the study. The vacancy rate in the Worcester area, based on data from the first quarter of 2023, is 1.7 percent, second worst only behind the Louisville, Kentucky area, which has a 1.2 percent vacancy. However, from the first quarter of 2023 to the first quarter of 2024, the median rental price increased by $163 in the Worcester, while it decreased by $45 in the Louisville area. Louisville ranked 43rd in overall ranking.

The Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH area ranked 12th worst of the 75 areas included in the report, with an overall score of 77.04. The rental vacancy rate there is 2.7 percent, fifth worst in the study, but it has 688.6 available rentals per 100,000 households, more than seven times more than Worcester’s 94.3 per 100,000 households. Boston tied for with the highest increase in median rental price from Q1 of 2023 to Q1 of 2024, with an increase of $200. However, prices in Worcester are rising faster than Boston.

According to data from Zillow, accessed the day of publishing, the median rent in the City of Worcester is currently $2,075, with a year-over-year change of $175. Median rent in the City of Boston is much higher, at $3,350, but the year-over-year-change is $150.

While housing costs and availability are problematic nationwide, the rental market renters in Worcester face is one of the worst in the country and easily the worst in the state.

While the rate of increase in rents is rising faster than nearly anywhere else in the county, income in Worcester is within the bottom five percent of municipalities in Massachusetts.

According to the US Census Bureau, in 2021 the median household income in Massachusetts was $56,746, about $25,000 lower than Boston and the 17th worst in Massachusetts. Per capital income the same year was $30,855, 16th worst in the state. With 351 municipalities in the state, Worcester residents earnings are in the bottom five percent of Massachusetts municipalities.

Forbes Advisor said that, “with extremely low vacancy rates and some of the worst availability of rental units, Worcester metro area renters are battling a tough rental market.” It listed four factors contributing to the ranking:

  • Worcester has the second-lowest rental vacancy rate study-wide (1.7%) which is lower than our study average of 6.3%.
  • Renters in the Worcester metro area have seen the third-highest increase in rental prices over the last year at $163.
  • The number of rental units available in Worcester is seventh worst across the study with an average of 94 available rentals per 100,000 households, well below the study average of 240.
  • Worcester made it in the top 25 most competitive rental markets due to its high rental prices, with a median price of $1,995 per rental—nearly $200 higher than the study median price of $1,804.

Forbes Advisor provides financial advisor services and online tools for financial planning. You can find the full study and its methodology on the Forbes website.


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