Jul 152014

Luxury is the name of the game in the student-housing industry nowadays. Communities feature all sorts of goodies—fitness centers, pools, tanning beds, screening rooms, fire pits, grills and more. Much more.

Kids today, am I right, folks?

When I was in college—which wasn’t too long ago, might I add (though I have found that when one feels the need to add that caveat, one officially is old enough to look like a narc if he or she tries to non-ironically wear any college-branded clothing)—my favorite amenity in the dorms was an RA who turned a blind eye to beer cans “hidden” behind our backs. For my friends who lived in private housing off campus, their favorite amenity was a functional washer/dryer. Most of them didn’t have this amenity. And we still all loved college.

Recently, some of my colleagues were discussing this influx of luxury student housing, wondering if it’s a trend or something that will become just expected when it comes to student housing.

Is luxury student housing a product of demand from the students (that famous “entitlement” that Millennials are known for)? Or are development companies just competing with each other by adding more and more toys in a bizarre dog park and Olympic-sized pool arms race?

As I’ve said before, this picture is required any time college is mentioned.

Are all the bells and whistles really necessary for students? After all, people are at college to learn, pick up knowledge that will help them in their future careers and bone up on their hacky sack skills. Their housing should keep them safe and provide them a place to study. None of us had any cool amenities in our housing, and we turned out OK. Plus, new constructions and luxury amenities drive rents up, which is tough on students (or, more likely, their parents). What if luxury student housing is a bubble, and when that bursts there’ll be a ton of communities that will be struggling to get occupancies. And would students even bother going to class if they have all this cool stuff to occupy their time?

On the other hand, there’s always a reason not to go to class, whether it be an awesome pool or a theater or, like, a really compelling episode of Judge Judy (is that still on?). I made the Dean’s List in college, and I missed half of my Shakespeare classes to go to the mall with a friend (but, to be fair, it was Shakespeare. Blech). The people who are easily distracted will be easily distracted, whether they have cool amenities or not. Why not make it more enjoyable for everyone else? Luxury student housing might also be a big draw for a college, which might boost admission. Plus, luxury student housing facilities could mentally prepare the students to want luxury apartments when they graduate, which is great for the apartment industry.

Or is all this a trend?

What do you think about student housing going the luxury route? A necessary evil? An awesome turn for the apartment industry? Am I just jealous? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

-Jessica Fiur, Senior Editor



  2 Responses to “‘What Renters Want’ with Jessica Fiur: Luxury Student Housing: Friend of Foe”

  1. As a parent I say no to excessive luxuries. As a cleaning service I say anything that sets you apart from the rest and distinguish you as someone who gives the clients what they want, go for it!

  2. The luxury route for student housing is the logical progression for developers trying to attract the greatest number of students during the boom in student housing. The problem is that many universities are already seeing student enrollment decline from the highs of just 4-5 years ago. This decline has universities shelving or scaling back some planned capital programs and reducing university staff through early retirement or attrition.

    Adding to the issue of declining enrollment is the increasing impact of student debt following graduation. For many of today’s college undergraduates (and their parents), the fear of that crippling debt is beginning to have a greater impact on college decisions. Parents who once saw paying for their child’s education as a investment in their future are increasingly worrying if that money is now needed to fund their own retirement. Students who once had expectation of higher earnings upon graduation to cover their student debt are now lowering earning expectations and contemplating the burden of student debt.

    The “entitlement” expectations for the latest and greatest amenities exists for most renters, often without the expectation of corresponding rent to cover the cost of those amenities. There is a finite and diminishing number of students who can and will continue to pay the rents to fuel the amenities race.

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