The 5 Best Places to Buy Rental Property in Massachusetts

By Jessica Merritt

Posted on July 12th, 2022

Boston | Worcester | Springfield | Cambridge | Lowell

Photo of Boston, Massachusetts

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The Massachusetts rental market is full of opportunity, whether you’re investing in an urban apartment or suburban single-family home. Students, tourists, and permanent residents keep the Massachusetts investment market moving.

While overall, Massachusetts has more people moving out than in, that’s not true in cities with the best markets for rentals. Home to more than 100 colleges and universities, Massachusetts has a student population of nearly 500,000 people – many who rent off campus. That makes Massachusetts one of the best states to invest in real estate, especially for investment apartments.

And with a thriving tourism market visiting the state’s historic sites, beaches, and cultural attractions ranging from Boston’s Freedom Trail to Cape Cod, Massachusetts is home to some of the best cities for Airbnb investment.

To find the best places to buy rental property in Massachusetts, we evaluated investment opportunities in Massachusetts's five most populous cities according to:

  • Affordability: We compared current home values to national averages based on the Zillow Home Value estimator.
  • Investment Potential: We considered home values since 2015, identifying cities with rising values.
  • Rental Rates: We tracked the approximate price to rent a two-bedroom apartment using Zillow listings.
  • Amenities: We researched what drives people to live in or visit each city, including local activities or attractions and its potential as a vacation destination.

If one of the cities on our list catches your eye, the next step is connecting with a local real estate expert. Our friends at Clever Real Estate offer a free, no-obligation agent matching service that will introduce you to qualified, pre-vetted realtors from trusted brokerages including Keller Williams, RE/MAX, and Coldwell Banker.

You can meet as many agents as you like until you find the best one to advise you on your real estate investment journey.

If you find a great agent through Clever, you can also get up to 0.5% cash back after closing. In Massachusetts, where the median price for a single-family home is $587,166, that's just over $2,900 back in your pocket.

👋 Contact with Clever's licensed concierge team to meet top-rated real estate agents in Massachusetts today!

1. The Best Place to Buy Rental Property in Massachusetts: Boston

Boston and its suburbs are well established, but still growing with a steady stream of students, tourists, and families filling out the rental market. Boston’s typical home value is $728,730, an increase of 7.9% over the past year. That’s more than double the $337,560 typical value nationwide, though U.S. home values have gone up much faster at a rate of 20%. Since 2015, Boston’s home values have increased from $479,000 to more than $728,000 – a difference of $249,000.

A huge college town that attracts tourists and students alike, Boston is home to 35 colleges and universities – including Harvard, one of the most world-renowned institutions. Nearly 23 million people visit Boston each year, and thousands of new residents move to Boston annually – about 20,000 since 2018.

Rental rates in Boston have grown each year, reaching $3,000 for a two-bedroom apartment in April 2022, up from $2,700 in February 2015. These rates can fluctuate wildly, particularly during the COVID era, so timing is key: Boston saw a drop to $2,500 in January 2021, but a high of $3,250 just a year later.

2. Worcester

The “Heart of the Commonwealth” notable for its education and culture, Worcester is home to the Worcester Music Festival, the oldest music festival in the U.S. The city attracts thousands of students to its colleges and universities, along with residents seeking affordable central Massachusetts housing. Real estate investors could find demand in this city with a fast-growing population and below-average home prices.

At $365,093, Worcester’s home values are lower than the Massachusetts average and just over the national value. Unlike more costly neighbors such as Boston, Worcester’s home values are growing rapidly – a 16.7% increase in the past year. Home prices have grown steadily each year, up from $196,000 in 2015.

Worcester is one of the fastest-growing cities in New England, adding more than 25,000 residents between 2010 and 2020, a rate of 14.1%. That population increase seems to have consistently driven up home values and rental rates. A two-bedroom apartment in Worcester rents for about $1,750 today, an increase from January 2015’s $1,000 rate.

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3. Springfield

Known as the “City of Homes,” Springfield has a multitude of single-family homes in its 17 residential neighborhoods. These homes were constructed for manufacturing workers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The city attracts residents seeking affordable housing and offers extensive entertainment opportunities. These include the MGM Springfield entertainment complex and Six Flags New England in Springfield’s suburb of Agawam.

With a typical home value of $246,698, Springfield’s homes are priced well below national and Massachusetts values. Like Worcester, home values in Springfield are rapidly rising, up nearly 18% in the past year and growing from a typical value of $134,000 in 2015.

Rental rates in Springfield can fluctuate quite a bit, jumping – or falling – by more than $300 within months. But overall, Springfield’s rental rates for a two-bedroom apartment have increased, reaching $1,350 today, up from $970 in January 2015.

4. Cambridge

One of the wealthiest cities in the country, Cambridge is among the best markets for high-end real estate investors in Massachusetts. The city is known for its two world-class universities Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which attract temporary and permanent residents to the area including students, faculty, and research teams.

The average home value in Cambridge is $982,371– far greater than the U.S. overall and exceeding nearby Boston. However, Cambridge’s values are increasing at a lower rate than the U.S. overall. Still, home values have jumped sharply since 2015, increasing from $633,000 to nearly $1 million today.

Rental rates have been fairly steady in Cambridge, with a two-bedroom apartment going for $3,300 per month today compared to $3,000 in 2015. However, there are certainly high and low seasons for investors to catch. Rates dipped to $2,700 in January 2021 as COVID spiked, but jumped to a high of $3,500 in January 2022.

5. Lowell

The birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, Lowell was founded as the first planned manufacturing center for textiles. Today, many of those mills have been converted into urban housing ripe for investment apartments.

Lowell hits a sweet spot for many real estate investors. Comparatively lower home prices offer a low barrier to entry for beginners investing in rental property, along with the assurance of stable rental rates. And Lowell has close proximity to Boston with a commuter rail, along with a revitalized urban center that has a mix of repurposed mills and older homes.

With average home values at $413,560 (up from $241,000 in 2015), Lowell may be a good choice for real estate investors seeking somewhat higher values than Springfield or Worcester, but not quite so high as Boston or Cambridge. Its 16.8% increase in the past year outpaces the higher-priced cities, too.

Lowell’s rental rates have seen a steady rise that outpaces every major city in Massachusetts except for Worcester, increasing from $1,400 in 2015 for a two-bedroom apartment to just under $2,000 today.

Next Steps for Your Rental Property Investment

From Boston's historic cobblestone streets to Worcester's fast-appreciating home values, Massachusetts is a great place to buy rental property.

Serious about investing? You need an agent! A local real estate agent will help you get a competitive edge, from spotting promising rental property opportunities to surfacing off-market listings. Our friends at Clever Real Estate have built a network of trusted partner agents in Massachusetts and beyond. It's free to meet agents through Clever, with zero obligation!

Best of all, real estate investors who find an agent through Clever can easily take advantage of Massachusetts's buyer rebate opportunities. You can receive up to 0.5% cash back at closing, which you can use to offset closing costs, rehab your rental, or simply enjoy as extra money in your pocket.

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FAQs

What is the best place to buy rental property in Massachusetts?

Lowell is the best place to buy rental property in Massachusetts, followed by Cambridge and Springfield. Learn how population growth, job opportunities, and home values impact rental property investments.

Is rental property a good investment?

In general, rental property is considered a sound investment, but a rental property's success or failure depends on both local market conditions and business strategy. Learn how to spot good investment opportunities — and save time, energy, and money — before buying a rental property in Massachusetts.

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Posted in Buying a House, Real Estate Investing