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Anyone with a mortgage or rent to pay can tell you that the Boston area is very, very expensive. While local rents have taken a perhaps-overdue dive during the pandemic — down 16.8 percent in February compared with a year earlier, according to rental website Apartment List — the $1,741 it costs to rent a median-priced two-bedroom apartment around Boston was still well above the national average of $1,101 and third-highest among major metro areas. And at $563,700, the median price of an existing single-family home in Greater Boston was nearly double the national average of $299,900 in 2020, according to the National Association of Realtors.
The cost of housing is so high here, and the supply of affordable homes so scarce, that many experts have warned it could threaten our long-term economic growth. But we pay more for lots of other things, too: everything from electricity to haircuts to wine — which costs an average of $12.09 a bottle here, compared with $9.12 nationally, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research’s 2020 Cost of Living Index. That report ranked Boston as the ninth most expensive metro area in the country last year, just ahead of Southern California’s Orange County.