Starbucks Could Be Having This Awful Effect On The Cost Of Your Rent


With their PSLs and funky Frappuccinos, Starbucks always seems to brighten our day. But unfortunately, according to a recent study conducted by Harvard Business School, Starbucks may be behind our dire rent hikes. Starbs, how can you be so heartless?

Researchers from Harvard attempted to get to the bottom of gentrification — the process of lower-class urban neighborhoods being molded to fit the tastes of the middle-class. Gentrification usually means massive renovations, an influx of business, and major rent hikes.

By using Yelp business data paired with housing info collected from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, researchers concluded that the introduction of a Starbucks to an area causes a 0.5% increase in neighboring housing prices within a year. Oof.

The study suggests that the company may use gentrification to grow its business. Researchers write, “Starbucks may target its cafes in places that are on the upswing, so the correlation [between Starbucks placement and housing prices] may reflect Starbucks’s strategy.”

However, this scenario is a double-edged sword because the introduction of new businesses also contributes to gentrification. Starbucks may not target gentrifying areas, but rather areas begin to grow once the brand, and other businesses, are already introduced.

What’s more is that Yelp itself may be lending a hand in gentrification.


Researchers note that “it is possible that Yelp is also measuring neighborhood amenities that help drive neighborhood change.”

Although it’s interesting to see the correlation between Starbucks and rising rent prices, the real takeaway from the study is the realization that the availability of Yelp business data is an invaluable asset to researchers trying to track gentrification.


The moral of this story is that if you see a new Starbucks being built across the street, you might want to pick up a few more shifts at work so you can afford both your rent and your PSLs.

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