Millennials And Money: The Luxury Student Housing Trend

by June 26, 2015
A look at the luxurious living space Hub At Tucson offers University of Arizona students. (Photo via Hub At Tucson website)

A look at the luxurious living space Hub At Tucson offers University of Arizona students. (Photo via Hub At Tucson website)

Millennials do a lot of things differently, including how they live while getting an education.

Luxury apartments are a growing trend in college towns across the United States. The buildings, both on and off campus, boast amenities that far exceed the minimalistic dorm rooms universities were known for in the past.

You can see exactly what’s available at the Best College Values’ list of the most luxurious student housing buildings.

Many of the buildings feature swimming pools with cabanas, jacuzzis, game rooms and fireplaces. Others have accommodations to help students with their school work, including study nooks and computer labs. Some have gourmet restaurants and delis as tenants on the ground floor, while others feature chains like Subway.

As colleges try to attract and retain paying students, more are more are turning to private investors to build housing on campuses, according to a report last year from NBC News. Turning to private companies allows universities to spend more money on academic programs and has helped turn student housing into an estimated $4 billion to $5 billion industry.

Some of the private companies believe they help students find more affordable housing as well, despite the nicer lifestyle many offer. The average cost of room and board for students at state universities was $9,804 for the 2014-15 school year and more than $11,000 for students at private schools, according to the College Board.

One student at Drexel University interviewed by NBC News paid $870 a month at a luxury building on campus, which was cheaper than off-campus options that require renters to pay utilities.

An off-campus complex in Boca Raton, Florida, home to Florida Atlantic University, offers rooms between $899 and $1,200 a month per bed, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

The three- and four-bedroom units are fully furnished with private bathrooms and washers and dryers, and the facility offers a fitness center, food shop and yoga studio.

That price might seem a little steep on a student budget, but a local real estate broker told the Sun-Sentinel that students are high-risk tenets to many landlords. These luxury facilities cater just to students and are often the best chance they have to live in comfortable housing once they head off campus.

As you can imagine, these luxurious options have raised some concern. The New York Times looked at private student housing in Columbia, Mo., a few years ago and one of the students interviewed said living at a complex was like a “vacation.”

Offering so many luxury activities might have students more worried about entertainment than education. Even when a complex offers things like computer labs and other services for students, it’s easy to imagine a teenager is going to choose the jacuzzi over studying for a chemistry exam.

And for students who aren’t getting help from mom and dad, paying higher rents to live the life of luxury means taking out more loans, contributing to the major problem of student debt that is already a burden to Millennials.

Still, a lot of money is going into these luxury housing complexes. The complex in Boca Raton is part of a $100 million investment by two local firms into three different developments.

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For story ideas, look up any private companies running luxury student housing in your coverage area. If you live in a college town, chances are you will be able to find one.

Ask them how business has been and what they’ve had to do to stay competitive as more and more students look for more comfortable living options. Do any companies run on-campus buildings at your local college or university?

Parents and students spend a lot of time looking for housing over the summer. See if you can find any and ask them what they’re looking for in housing and why they might have chosen more luxurious options. Are they worried about costs and considering cheaper or more traditional renting options?

Off-campus renting is a popular option for students who want more freedom and privacy that isn’t available while living in a dorm. Find any local trends at the colleges and universities near you as the new school year approaches.