Sometimes it feels like a Tom Brady-sized paycheck is necessary to live in Massachusetts. Maybe that’s why he left for Florida?
Massachusetts has a rep for lighthouses, its baseball team and lobster rolls. It’s less beloved for its often exorbitant rent prices though.
Fortunately, not every city is quite as expensive as Boston.
Massachusetts state average rent prices
Let’s get this out of the way real quick — few places in Massachusetts have what you would call “cheap” rent. That’s just not the New England way, unfortunately.
In fact, the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in The Bay State is $2,736, an increase of 5.5 percent from last year. As legit Bostonians would say in utter disbelief, “No suh!”
The cheapest cities in Massachusetts for renters
Sadly, that rent rate is the truth. The good news is that not all cities in Massachusetts are quite so pricey. Some are downright affordable, so it’s absolutely possible to enjoy the Massachusetts way of life without going breaking the bank. Here are the 10 cheapest places to live in Massachusetts, in order.
- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,996
- Average rent change in the past year: 5.88 percent
The suburb of Framingham has access to both Boston and Worcester, given that it’s situated directly in between the two cities. In particular, its location only 20 miles west of Boston makes it ideal for the nearly 72,000 residents of Framingham, since many commute by rail.
However, Framingham does attract many big-ticket employers, thanks to a highly educated population. In fact, Framingham’s biotech industry draws commuters in from surrounding areas. Other major area industries include manufacturing, education and healthcare.
Framingham residents earn an average annual take-home pay of $81,400. Impressive as that is, renters need it to front an average one-bedroom rent of $1,996 per month, up 5.88 percent from last year.
Framingham isn’t all commuting and bills though. The diverse community enjoys a broad range of cultural options, including more than 30 ethnic restaurants found in downtown Framingham. The city’s portion of Route 9/Worcester Road is also known throughout New England as a destination for all things retail and foodie. Yum!
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- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,980
- Average rent change in the past year: -17.5 percent
If you ever wanted to call Walpole home, now’s the time.
The thing that likely lands it on our list of the cheapest places to live in Massachusetts is that rent is down 17.5 percent from last year, with a one-bedroom apartment going for about $1,980 per month.
At just under 6,000 residents, Walpole is one of the smaller towns on our list — it makes up for its petite size though with plenty of character. A mere 13 miles south of Boston, Walpole encompasses all of the things people love about historic New England.
The downtown itself features locally-owned and operated shops, so appropriate for a quiet community known for its tree-lined streets and historic homes. The weekly farmer’s market is a favorite for locals, as are the multiple Irish pubs.
There are three town commons, complete with green space to enjoy the occasional picnic or frisbee session. Don’t forget to hit up Turner Pond and Lodge in the winter for ice skating!
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- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,980
- Average rent change in the past year: 8.16 percent
Love history? Weymouth is the place for you. The second oldest township in the Commonwealth, Weymouth dates all the way back to 1622, although it was originally known as the Wessagusset colony.
Weymouth has changed quite a bit over the past 400 years, but it nonetheless retains ever so much New England charm. The only downside is that rents in Weymouth have increased 8.16 percent over the last year, to $1,980 per month for a one-bedroom unit.
Originally an agricultural and fishing community, Weymouth today is “South Shore’s medical mecca,” thanks to a heavy healthcare presence.
Weymouth is ideally located in southeastern Mass just 12 miles southeast of Boston. Although winters are brutally cold, the summers in Weymouth are delightful. The hottest month of July averages a temperature of only 74 degrees Fahrenheit.
There’s plenty to do here as one of the cheapest places to live in Massachusetts. Locals love stopping by any of the town’s four village centers for food, drink, shopping and downtime.
Outdoor fun is a must in this area, which includes George Lane Beach and Webb Memorial State Park.
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- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,944
- Average rent change in the past year: 9.55 percent
Andover is yet another historic New England community, but it nonetheless exhibits a charm all its own. Named for the England city where most of its settlers hailed from, the Town of Andover incorporated way back in 1646.
Not too long after that (in 1770) Andover saw the establishment of Phillips Academy, the famed independent secondary “prep” school known around the world that has graduated impressive students like Dr. Benjamin Spock, former President George H.W. Bush and even former Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendall Holmes, Jr.
Located 26 miles north of Boston, downtown Andover is accessible by car or rail. Eclectic boutiques and eateries liberally dot the area, and downtown has many nature trails that give locals and visitors the opportunity to explore Andover’s largely unspoiled beauty. Harold Parker State Forest is another must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts.
Andover rent clocks in at $1,944 per month for a one-bedroom apartment, up 9.55 percent from this time last year. Despite this increase, it remains one of the cheapest places to live in Massachusetts.
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- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,943
- Average rent change in the past year: 7.21 percent
Some 25 miles south of Boston is Bridgewater, where the average one-bedroom rental will cost you a whole dollar less, $1,943, per month than the previously mentioned Andover. This is an increase of 7.21 percent from last year.
With nearly 27,000 residents, Bridgewater’s niche is somewhere between a small town and a major New England metropolis. Known for its low crime rate and family-friendly atmosphere, Bridgewater residents tend to stick around for a while.
It’s also home to Bridgewater State University, an acclaimed institution that is the largest of nine state universities in Massachusetts.
Like much of the state, Bridgewater boasts incredible access to nature. Among them, The Wildlands Trust— Great River Preserve is more than 125 acres worth of trails, habitats, vernal pools and rare animals. Bridgewater State Park is another excellent spot for hiking, plus it features a lake for water sports.
Be sure to keep an eye on the calendar and take in an event or two at historic Sachem Rock Farm!
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- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,910
- Average rent change in the past year: -15.15 percent
Great news, wannabe Canton residents — rent is down in this Boston suburb by a whopping 15.15 percent compared with last year, helping propel it higher on our list of the cheapest places to live in Massachusetts. This brings rent for a one-bedroom apartment to a monthly average of $1,910.
Located 15 miles southwest of downtown Boston, the town of Canton is home to more than 23,000 residents. Settled in 1650 under the name Punkapoag, it was eventually renamed Canton because settlers thought that it is on the exact opposite end of the earth from Canton, China.
The area was an early industrial hub, with Paul Revere himself setting up a gunpowder factory during the American Revolution, as well as the country’s first copper rolling mill.
Things have changed a lot since the olden days, though. Today, Dunkin’ Donuts is among the businesses calling Canton home. Since everyone in New England loves Dunkin’, this is big deal!
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Photo source: Burlington Recreation / Facebook
- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,889
- Average rent change in the past year: -20.51 percent
Rent prices in Burlington have dropped more than 20 percent in the last year, so it’s a better time than ever to get into the area — one of the cheapest places to live in Massachusetts. Currently, a one-bedroom apartment in the city will set you back about $1,889 per month.
Roughly 12 miles northwest of Boston, Burlington has about 25,000 residents and counting. The suburb is gaining in popularity thanks to its enviable location and comparable affordability.
In particular, the 270-acre Landlocked Forest in Burlington is an outdoorsy paradise, with trails and boardwalks suitable for everything from hiking to cross-country skiing in the winter.
Shopping enthusiasts might prefer to skip the trails for 3rd Avenue, where all of the best stores are. Wayside Commons and Burlington Mall are other beloved retail areas.
All in all, Burlington is a delightful suburb to raise a family or live as a young professional, wherever you are in life.
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- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,737
- Average rent change in the past year: -25.12 percent
Down more than 25 percent from last year are rent prices in Shrewsbury. Slightly further inland than many of the other cities on this list, Shrewsbury is 45 minutes west of Boston and 10 minutes east of Worcester in Central Mass. This is the first city on our list to rent below $1,800 per month — a one-bedroom goes for an average of $1,737.
Shrewsbury is home to Ski Ward, a year-round recreational facility. In the winter, visitors enjoy snow skiing, snow tubing and snowboarding. In the summer, it’s the ideal place for beach volleyball, as well as summer skiing and summer tubing.
Another establishment that makes life in Shrewsbury extra sweet is Hebert’s Candy Mansion, known for its homemade candy, but also full of other goodies like ice cream sundaes and luxe coffee. People literally come from all around to take in the full Hebert experience.
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- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,649
- Average rent change in the past year: -4.64 percent
Moving to the other side of the state, the Town of Sunderland is in western Massachusetts. At nearly 15 square miles and around 4,000 residents, Sunderland is decidedly smaller than many other cities on this list. The rent for an average one-bedroom is down 4.64 percent to $1,649 per month here.
Originally known as Swampfield, due to swampland in the town, Sunderland incorporated in 1718. Today, it features picturesque streets lined with maple trees planted in the 1820s.
Mount Toby is a major Sunderland attraction, as the 1,269-foot fire tower at the summit offers unbelievable views of surrounding area ranges. Hikers also love to take in the waterfalls while out on a trek. In autumn, locals flock to family-friendly activities such as the eight-acre corn maze at Mike’s Maze (September through November).
Certainly not one of the most metropolitan cities on our list, Sunderland still features a sprinkling of dining, shopping and entertainment options suitable for a quaint New England Town. Plus, it’s oh-so-affordable, as the second cheapest place to live in Massachusetts.
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- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,445
- Average rent change in the past year: -37.24 percent
Moving back east, the town of Westborough is everything a New Englander could want and more. And who can argue with the price? Rental rates are down 37.24 percent, with the average one-bedroom rental rate at $1,445 per month!
Westborough was originally established as a place for dairies and orchards. Located 29 miles west of Boston and east of Worcester, Westborough offers commuters easy access by car or rail to these big metro areas.
Today, Westborough houses an impressive slate of businesses, largely in the manufacturing and service industries. Although smaller than Boston by a long shot, Westborough’s 18,000-plus residents enjoy good schools and plenty of amenities for a significantly reduced price tag.
Chauncy Lake and George H Nichols Reservoir are popular spots for sunning, boating, fishing and all other things water-related.
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The 25 cheapest places to live in Massachusetts
Super bummed that the city you’re into didn’t show up on our list? Never fear, there are plenty of other affordable places to live in Massachusetts. Check out the full top 25 cheapest cities here.
The 10 most expensive places to live in Massachusetts
Wanna see how the other half lives? There are plenty of pricey places to live in Massachusetts, too. Take a look at this list of the 10 most expensive cities to live in. Try not to let your jaw drop at these rental rates!
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory as of May 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
We excluded cities with insufficient inventory from this report.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.