Renting in Suburbia

Over the past few years, developers have set their sights on the ’burbs, building slick rental complexes with copious amenities to entice city dwellers to leave Boston. But do these high-end rentals really deliver luxury living for less, as they promise?


Photograph Courtesy of The Commons at SouthField Highlands

Andover, Weymouth, and Lynnfield may attract more soccer moms than postgrad renters, but recent zoning updates in those towns could change that. Ambitiously dense developments are popping up among the Capes and Colonials, including the Avalon Andover (2011), the Commons at SouthField Highlands (2012), and Arborpoint at MarketStreet (expected to open next month). Each offers upscale flats where few have dared to venture before.

At first blush, the suburban-luxe model is tempting. These 100-plus-unit developments offer a variety of configurations, like a two-bed, two-bath, 1,200-square-foot apartment in the $2,000-per-month range, a relative bargain for downtown renters. And if the low price doesn’t get urbanites to embrace the commute, the amenities, including pools, fitness centers, and common grills, just might. Avalon Andover even boasts an outdoor fireplace for community-building.

So what’s the catch? Considering that none of the rental fees include water, heat, and electricity, it’s not easy to do the math. And while the apartments are generally spacious, there’s precious little storage, unless you’re willing to pay for it. Bringing Fido? That’s another monthly fee, starting at $50, depending on the location. And since these towns offer spotty public transportation services, you’ll likely be buying a car (or two) before year’s end. No problem, because all rentals include one parking space per unit. Two cars, though, will cost you: An additional covered spot starts at $75 per month at the Commons at SouthField Highlands and $100 at Arborpoint at MarketStreet, and at Avalon Andover, you’ll pay $200 for that privilege.

What’s fascinating about two of these new developments is that they are shaping up to be mini mall towns, à la Legacy Place, in Dedham. The Weymouth and Lynnfield plans reveal soon-to-be-built shops, restaurants, and even supermarkets going up next to the residences.

Ultimately, if space, amenities, and everything brand new are what you seek, then by all means, bring your bathing suit, your car(s), your dog, and your checkbook. Just leave what remains of your hipster ambitions inside the city limits.



Face it: The suburbs are just different. Here’s what you’ll need to fit in.

Hobbies › Break up the monotony with a new pastime.

Wheels › Suburban parking is meter-free and easier to find, so go ahead and drive big.

A Tennis Racket › Ditch the gym and join the club.

A Fancy Espresso Machine › Without a local java joint, you’ll have to become your own barista.