Renting in Princeton: How Much Should You Expect To Pay in 2020?

Home for rent on North Tulane Street in Princeton (click to expand).

How much should you expect to pay for apartment rentals in Princeton? We took a look through the listings to try to find out what the going rate is for apartments in central Princeton in August 2020.  We last looked at Princeton rental rates one year go, in August 2019.

According to apartments.com (as of 8.29.20) “the average apartment rent in Princeton, NJ is $1,419 for a studio, $1,554 for one bedroom, $3,121 for two bedrooms.” They also think that “apartment rent in Princeton has decreased by -15.7% in the past year.” Checking local rental websites, however, there is little evidence of a reduction in prices. Avalon Princeton is currently offering studios from $2,160, 1-beds from $2,475, and 2-beds from $3,180. All of those prices are up, very slightly, since last year. The Copperwood apartment community is currently offering 1-beds starting at $2,590 and 2-beds from $3,350. Last year, 1-beds at Copperwood were offered at $2,650+, so the current rates perhaps show a very slight softening in the market.

Avalon Princeton and Copperwood represent the luxury sector for apartments in Princeton. We also checked Nassau Street Properties, who operate many older apartment buildings in central Princeton. According to their online price list, 1-bedroom apartments in Princeton all cost $1,990 or more (see below). The average monthly rents for Princeton 1-bed units offered by NSP was $2,071 in 2019, and is $2,076 in 2020.

Realtor Julie Harrison publishes a list of recently-rented housing at her website princeton-rentals.com. According to her data, 1-bedroom apartments in Princeton have rented for an average monthly rent of $2,270 in 2020, with a range of $1,700 – $2,600. That also represents an increase relative to 2019, when the average was $2,011, with a range of $1,300 – $2,680.

On listings website Craigslist, apartments are potentially available at a greater range of price points, but renters should be careful to view the property to ensure it is real and meets their needs. Some unusually-cheap listings are likely to be fraudulent. There are reports of scams where landlords lure people into sending deposit checks for apartments that don’t exist after offering unrealistically-low rental rates . The following  is a sampling of units that were available in Princeton on 8/30/2020, and which appear to be legitimate:

  • Studio, Tulane Street, $1,050
  • 1-br apartment, Nassau Street, $2,500
  • 1-br apartment, Witherspoon Street, $1,700
  • 1-br apartment, Wiggins Street, $1,750
  • 1-br apartment, Palmer Square, $1,550
  • 1-br apartment, Spruce Street, $1,500
  • 1-br apartment, Nassau Street, $1,400
  • 2-br apartment, Humbert Street, $2,100
  • 3-br house, Jefferson Road, $2,950

Taken together, it seems that at least $1,400 is required for 1-bedroom apartment in central Princeton. $1,400 is about as low as you are likely to find. Not many units will be available at that price, and they should probably be thoroughly inspected before you hand over a deposit check. $2,000 / month is more ‘average’ for a 1-bedroom unit, and $2,500 will get a high-end unit. There is very little evidence that rental rates have come down because of the coronavirus crisis. If anything, prices appear to have increased slightly, despite one of the worse economic crises in US history.

Note that cheaper apartments may be available in surrounding communities, such as the Canal Pointe development in West Windsor. These units may be marketed as being in ‘Princeton’ because the Princeton 08540 zip code extends into portions of nearby towns. People who want to walk or bike to jobs in central Princeton should check locations carefully. ‘Affordable’ apartments, which are rented below market-price, are offered by Princeton Community Housing to households of below-average income. Getting access to one of these units may require a wait of many months or years, however, because there is a waiting list of over 1,500 people hoping for affordable rentals.

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