Renter's Guide to Cambridge
Cambridge is home to two of the world’s most prestigious universities: Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). These two schools along with their students and staff fill this town that lies just north of Boston. Cambridge’s name is fitting, since its origins come from a prominent university in the UK based in Puritan theology. This city carries a small town flair that is both unique and appealing.
Cambridge is the fifth most populated city in Massachusetts. Some refer to Cambridge as, the “City of Squares,” due to the sheer number square-shaped neighborhoods and communities. The city is a quick 15-minute drive from Boston, an hour-and-a-half from Concord, New Hampshire, and three-and-a-half hours from New York City. If you don’t like the cold, Cambridge might not be the best place for you. The area experiences very cold winters, with most winter days at or below freezing. Summers are humid and warm, not usually getting much hotter than 80°F but with a high level of humidity.
Cambridge is ranked number one by Sperling’s Best Places for “Most Competitive Private Colleges,” which makes sense due to Harvard and MIT being located in Cambridge. Sperling also ranked Cambridge as the number one “Safest City for Families with Young Children”.
Cambridge, MA Demographics
- Total Population107,916
Female 52,208Male 55,708
- Median Age30.5
Cost of Living in Cambridge, MA
Being close to Boston and on the east coast, Cambridge has a higher cost of living than many other cities of similar size. A one-bedroom apartment in a less expensive area will run you about $1,555 or more. Utilities are reasonable, costing about $140 per month, but groceries and gas are more expensive. A gallon of milk costs $3.36. A cheap meal for one in Cambridge would cost $15 and a three-course menu for two is about $65 in a sit-down restaurant. A one-way public transportation ticket in Cambridge costs $2.50 and a monthly pass is $75.
Average Rent in Cambridge, MA
- Cambridge, MA Average Rental Price, December 2018$3,001/mo
- 1 Bedroom$2,730
- 2 Bedrooms$3,448
Cambridge, MA Apartment Rent Ranges
- > $2,00091%
Cambridge, MA Rent Trends
|All rentals||Studio||1 Bed||2 Beds||3 Beds|
|Dec / 2018||$3,001||$2,285||$2,730||$3,448|
|Jan / 2018||$2,997||$2,285||$2,730||$3,436|
|Sept / 2017||$3,033||$2,268||$2,740||$3,514|
|May / 2017||$3,049||$2,247||$2,755||$3,561|
|Jan / 2017||$2,952||$2,204||$2,676||$3,424|
|Sept / 2016||$3,019||$2,235||$2,724||$3,524|
|May / 2016||$3,013||$2,214||$2,734||$3,497|
|Jan / 2016||$3,011||$2,200||$2,735||$3,508|
|Sept / 2015||$2,987||$2,216||$2,713||$3,474|
|May / 2015||$2,911||$2,133||$2,651||$3,391|
Average rent is projected to grow by 3% in 2018 compared to 2017.
Please note that projected rent growth is calculated at city level.
Average rent values on this page are aggregated from data from the following zip codes: 0213802139021400214102142
Living in Cambridge, MA
Cambridge is very close to Boston, but still manages to have a small and tight-knit feel. The Boston metropolitan area has done a wonderful job at preserving the history of different localities, as well as the original housing structures. This makes housing in Cambridge very appealing, but also more expensive. Cambridge has a lot to offer in terms of arts and culture, as well as a highly educated populace. A few drawbacks to living in Cambridge is the high cost of living, the constant traffic and city sprawl, and an economy that ebbs and flows.
Cambridge is predominantly white and is also one of the most liberal-leaning cities in the nation. The city is about two thirds white, 15% Asian, 11% African American and 7% Hispanic. Livability named Cambridge #2 on “The Top 10 Healthiest Cities,” based on the city’s walkability rating, recreational opportunities and the doctor-to-patient ratio.
Things to do in Cambridge
Cambridge is a city full of culture and class, and you’ll easily find places to visit, especially if you love early American history—it’s saturated with it. One of the most popular places to check out are the campuses of Harvard University and MIT. The grounds are spacious and beautiful, filled with grand old buildings and vast lawns. In addition, you can go to Harvard Square, which has been around since 1630. It’s a gathering place near campus with cafes, bars, and bookstores.
If museums are your cup of tea, you’re going to love the findings in Cambridge. Though a smaller-sized city, Cambridge has a fair number of incredible museums, including Harvard Museum of Natural History, Fogg Museum, MIT Museum, Peabody Museum of Archaeology, Semitic Museum, and the Museum of Comparative Zoology. You can also see Longfellow House Washington’s Headquarters, which is a National Historic site. Finally, the Cambridge Public Library is one of the most beautiful libraries you’ll ever see, with a large modern building completed in 2009 that connects to the original part of the library built in 1888.
Cambridge has a great comedy and live music scene, with many bars and small concert venues. Check out The Comedy Studio or Improv Boston for some shows full of belly laughs. The Middle East is great spot to check up-and-coming local bands.
If you like to get outside, you can walk or bike around Cambridge Common. The Charles River is a great place to sail in the warmer months. You could also take a walk or drive during the fall and enjoy the stunning autumn leaves. Mount Auburn Cemetery is a cool historic place to visit-- you can even search for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s gravestone.
Employment and Economy
Today, the biggest employers in Cambridge are educational institutions, but this was a center of commerce and manufacturing at the start of the 20th century. Harvard employs more than 10,000 Cambridge residents and MIT employs another 8,000. Other main employers include the city of Cambridge, Mount Auburn Hospital, and Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research. The city’s brilliance is noted throughout the world, as 129 of 780 Nobel Prize winners have been affiliated with universities in Cambridge at some point during their careers.
Cambridge, MA Households
- Total Number of Households43,801
Family 18,505Non-family 25,296
Children 7,930No Children 35,871
- Average People Per Household2.07
- Median Household Income$79,416
- Median Housing Costs Per Month$1,734
Education in Cambridge
If you’re looking for some of the best education in the country, Cambridge is a great spot. As noted, both Harvard and MIT call Cambridge home, along with Cambridge College, Lesley University, Hult International Business School, Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, Longy School of Music and Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Boston. There are a number of highly ranked private and public schools in Cambridge for elementary and secondary education.
Cambridge, MA Education Statistics
- No High School2%
- Some High School15%
- Some College18%
- Associate Degree2%
- Bachelor Degree27%
- Graduate Degree36%
Tips for Renting in Cambridge
In Massachusetts, landlords must give 30 days’ notice before raising the rent and the tenant has 14 days to pay the rent or be evicted. Tenants may withhold rent if the landlord does not remedy problems with the unit in a timely manner. State law also limits how much money landlords can charge for a security deposit (it cannot exceed one month’s rent).
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