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Nantucket Summer Rentals, From $40 to $4,500

We're kicking off Renters Week with a trip back in time, by way of Nantucket. We decided to head for The Grey Lady to find out just how much summer rentals went for back in the day. Using the Nantucket Atheneum's handy online resources, we dug into the classifieds from The Inquirer and Mirror to find summer rental listings from the latter half of the last century. From 1950 to 2000, Nantucket's popularity as a vacation hot spot soared and, naturally, prices did as well. Or did they? We got our geek on using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' CPI Inflation Calculator (warning: it's a time suck) and did that whole adjusted for inflation thing. Here's what $40 a week got you on Nantucket in 1950 and more!

June 10, 1950: Kicking off mid-century, here's an opportunity to rent a "housekeeping room" in a Surfside apartment during July or August. Each of the three available rooms are $40 weekly. Not many of the classified ads posted rental prices back then, so we've no idea if that was a bargain, the going rate or a blatant send-the-money-and-we'll-send-the-keys scam, but $40 in 1950 has the same buying power as $388.63 in 2013.

June 11, 1955: The summer rental market is heating up just a few years later. A 20 day September rental on the Cliff is listed for $150 - not bad for a four room house. In 2013 dollars, that's $1,310.54. No word on how much the Madaket cottage is asking, but the rather friendly owner is encouraging whoever might rent the place to bring along "weekend guests." Another "completely furnished" apartment is available by the week, month or for the "long season." A "centrally located," two-room "light housekeeping suite" (does that mean housework is required of the renters?) that sleeps three is asking $250 per month, or $2,184.23 in today's dollars. Finally, an in town cottage for two with a fireplace is available "July 1 'til Labor Day" for $650, $5,678.99 in 2013 money.

June 10, 1960: Kicking off with a house for a "nice family" that consists of three separate apartments. In other words, the perfect arrangement for a nice family that can't stand on another. No word on the price, but "reasonable if hurry." This small waterfront cottage that sleeps two seems like a deal at just $200 for the month of July. Translated into 2013, that's $1,582.09. The waterfront apartment, asking $450 for the season would be $3,559.70. The year-round listing, a two bedroom, is asking $85 per month. In 2013 bucks, that's $672.39.

June 12, 1975: Hello, washing machine! This "charming" three bedroom, two bath is for "Family only" and references are required. Sounds like some previous tenants knew how to party, ya dig? The last two weeks of July were available for $850, currently $3,699.38. The month of August could be had for $1,850, a hefty $8,051.59 these days.

June 6, 1985: A September Surfside rental is on the market for $900 per week during the go-go '80s. In 2013 dollars, that amount would buy you $1,958.50. The two bedroom, two bath oceanfront cottage came with a recently completed "designer interior" that no doubt had a serious case of the '80s - as in, glass blocks, gaudy mirrors and wall-to-wall carpet in the bathrooms. Shudder.

June 7, 1990: Sticking around Surfside, here's an architect-designed two bedroom with a sleeping loft, cable (!!) and a guest house that "sleeps 4 children or two adults" (or two really large children and four tiny adults). Listing price was $1,700 per week in 1990, $3,045.55 today.

June 1, 2000: Finally, to the aughts and a rental price that sounds completely "normal" these days. This Quidnet antique was listed for $4,500 per week, now $6,118.88.
· Archive Search [Nantucket Atheneum]
· CPI Inflation Calculator [Bureau of Labor Statistics]
· All Renters Week 2013 posts [Curbed Cape Cod]