As scores of college students head back to school this fall, many will be taking part in the age-old tradition of living in the dorms—you know, those closet-sized spaces that they’ve deemed large enough for two people to share. However, in a recurring rental trend, many coeds (particularly upperclassmen) are instead opting to live off-campus in apartments, both to save money and have a little extra breathing room.
The rapid development and construction of off-campus apartment buildings is playing a major role in making off-campus housing a more affordable option. In fact, more than 50,000 new off-campus beds are expected to be added to college towns across America this year. And as that random economics class we took freshman year taught us, more supply, without increased demand, equals lower prices.
As vacancy rates rise thanks to new off-campus housing developments, rental rates are falling. For those students who are on a budget but don’t want to live at home (and there are plenty who are taking that option—there’s been nearly a 5 percent increase in the last year), this is fantastic news. With vacancy rates falling across the nation during the economic downturn, apartment trends haven’t exactly favored the budget-conscious in recent years. However, the addition of off-campus housing in many college towns should ease the financial strain.
But lower rent isn’t the only good thing to come of these off-campus developments. Unlike many pre-war college apartments sans air conditioning that come with plenty of bugs and no elevators, these new living accommodations boast tons of amenities. From swimming pools and fitness centers to state-of-the-art appliances, students may be able to live in apartments with a high price point for pennies on the dollar thanks to the large vacancy rate.
When considering whether or not to live off-campus, college students should think about how the rental rate and price of electricity, cable, internet, groceries and the like will compare to the cost of living in the dorms. Some students may find that dorm living is less expensive, but if this construction trend keeps up, off-campus housing will likely continue to look appealing in the years to come.