Study Reveals That Student Housing Proximity Matters

Study Reveals That Student Housing Proximity Matters

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A Ball State University (BSU) study found that college students are willing to pay a bit more to live within a mile of campus even if far cheaper options are just a few miles away.

College Housing Study

The BSU study was published in a recent issue of Housing and Society, the journal of the Housing Education and Research Association (HERA). It took a sample of 97 student-housing communities across six college markets and found that college students prefer to live within one mile of campus.

That proximity comes with higher housing costs with students willing to pay an average 16 percent premium for their apartment. Thus, if a one bedroom apartment averages $600 several miles away from campus, the surveyed students would be willing to pay an extra $96 per month for the convenience of living nearby. The study found that the average savings beyond a four-mile radius of the campus was 13 percent.

Proximity is important to many college students who want to enjoy the university experience and do so within walking distance. Said Carla Earhart, a professor in Ball State’s family and consumer sciences department who teaches in the residential property management program, “Being within one mile of campus suggests the benefit of being within reasonable walking distance, while being outside four miles begins to segregate students from the ‘university district,’ other college friends and easy use of the campus facilities. Between one and four miles, students are likely to commute, and the incremental advantage or disadvantage of proximity to campus is not seen as a driving factor.”

Earhart co-authored the study with two other BSU professors including Tung Liu, an economics professor, and Howard Campbell, a family and consumer sciences professor. T.J. Fields, a former graduate student who earned his degree in 2011, also participated.

The Statistics of Rent

The BSU study also uncovered several other important facts about student housing for the surveyed areas. The average rent was $1,377 per month for the 2010-2011 academic year for apartments that had up to 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms and were located 2.43 miles from the campus center. Nearly two-thirds of those units were furnished and most covered the cost of water, sewer and trash removal.

The survey also found that just 22 percent of apartments included electricity with the rent while cable and Internet service were included approximately 90 percent of the time. The average occupancy rate for these apartments was 96 percent and the average residence age in 2010 was 12 years.

Amenities and Proximity

“Student housing in the U.S. is a very competitive billion dollar business,” Earhart said. “Built and sometimes operated more like resorts than apartment communities, the new student housing in many college towns offers lavish swimming pools, private bathrooms for every bedroom, high-end finishes and furnishings, and high-speed Internet. Some of today’s college students are paying more than $500 per month per bedroom.

Earhart noted that while the amenities are certainly desirable, proximity is very important to today’s college students.

See AlsoWhere to Find Student Housing

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