After two years of COVID restrictions, remote education, and closed campuses, our lives are getting back to normal. For students, it means not only coming back to college classes but to college campuses as well. We at EduBirdie were interested in how many students are returning to the usual way of living, how they choose accommodations, and what are the main criteria for them.
- 78% of students can not visit campuses and offline studies in the same amount as before;
- The average time a student rents and lives in one apartment is 19 months;
- For 60% of the students, the most important factor for a place to live is its location;
- Among all the respondents, 27% mentioned problems with security, 6% were even the victims of break-ins, and 30% would agree to pay more rent for 24-hour security;
- With an average price of $640 a month for an apartment, an average student receives $384 a month from their parents or relatives;
- 37% of students told us they struggle with paying rent, and 45% feel their mental health is affected by it;
- Overall 75% students ranked their housing “4” or “5,” and 77% of students answered that their places are worth their money.
Where do students live?
It feels like we live in a galaxy far far away from a campus. It takes an hour to get there in a crowded bus.
With COVID-19 putting fewer restrictions than before, we wanted to see how much impact it made on where students live, how many have returned to offline education, and how much time it takes them to get to college.
78% of students stated they could not visit campuses and offline studies in the same amount as before in 2021/22. 29% are stuck to online education only.
According to the collected data, 55% of students live with their parents/step-parents. We presume the reason is that remote education made students who were living separately move back in with family or the first-year students never leave their families’ houses.
If we look at the third- and fourth-year students, only 28% stated they live with parents or relatives.
The other 22% of the students live on their own property, 12% rent apartments, and only 5% live in uni accommodations. Among other places, students mentioned friends’ houses or other relatives.
The data shows a big move away from university housing due to lockdowns and closed campuses. The possibility of distance learning has opened up new opportunities for students, including in terms of accommodation.
For students who still attend their classes offline, the average time to get to college is 28 mins.
28% of students do not plan to move this year. At the same time, 31% of those living with parents or relatives plan to move out by the end of the year. 56% of students planning to move to do it to get better access to offline education.
For those who plan to move, we see that students typically start looking for new accommodation before November.
Most of the students (37%) said they changed their place of living twice, and it seems it is enough for most people to find a place to stay and not want to move. At the same time, almost the same number of respondents said they changed their place once or never at all - 22% and 20%, respectively. Also, 10% of the students changed their places three times, and 11% more than that.
Among the reasons for changing the accommodation were:
- Not fitting location - 32%
- Moving to a better place - 34%
- Moving in with a partner - 16%
- Bad living conditions - 9%
- Neighbor problems - 7%
Among the third- and fourth-year students, we could see a significant increase in the amount of students moving to a better living place - 57%. Students mentioned an increase in their income compared to the beginning of their studies as the main factors.
The average time a student rents and lives in one apartment is 19 months.
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How do students decide on where to live?
When we were looking for a place to rent, we paid attention to the house the apartment is in. Mine one is a catch!
Based on the survey results, for the majority of the students (60%), the most important factor for a place to live is its location. 68% stated they are looking for a place near their university or college, and 36% need it located close to their workplace. 72% find up to 40 mins an acceptable amount of time to reach their study destination.
Overall, cost influenced the choice of 52% of students, and 45% marked value for money as an important factor. Facilities (32%), quality of accommodation (28%), and included bills (28%) are almost equally important for renters. At the same time, reviews (8%) and brand recognition (2%) are the least important factors. Also, students told us they pay attention not only to the quality of the apartment but the quality of the whole building.
Looking at the uni accommodation, 32% said they try to get to know the neighbors before they decide to move in, and 36% consider the number of possible workplaces nearby. 22% stated that they almost never cook themselves and need a decent food infrastructure if they move into the campus accommodation.
Majority of the rented apartments include such vital things as water (82%), electricity (68%), gas (57%) and heating (53%). Meanwhile, the Internet is included in half of places and furniture only in 33%.
Still, there are some troubles renters have. Luckily, 45% mentioned they don’t face such problems. The main issue is security. 27% of student renters have it. Also, 20% of students struggle with the lack of water or heating, 18% with rodents or pests, and 17% with bugs. Among “other” issues, students mentioned the Internet and air conditioning problems.
The good thing is 35% of students don’t have other housing issues. However, 36% are dealing with loud housemates, and 15% even mentioned them stealing food. 20% live with disruptive building work, and 18% of respondents experience inappropriate landlord visits. Also, students told us sometimes the problem is that “it takes forever to get things fixed” in their house.
Safety is another issue for the students. 28% of the respondents mentioned they didn’t find their living place completely safe, and 6% were the victims of break-ins.
As we mentioned earlier, the Internet is included in 50% of students’ places. Almost the same number of respondents (48%) would agree to pay more for faster WiFi. Although only 15% of students said the quality of furnishing influenced their choice of accommodation, 38% would pay more for a larger bedroom and 32% for a better bed. The 24-hour security would be a plus for 30%. A noticeable thing is that 27% of students mentioned that they have security issues at their places. Around a quarter of respondents said they would love more natural light, cleaning services, or a better view.
Over 23% mentioned that they are ready to pay more for the closed parking lots. 42% of the students who own a car have problems with parking it nearby. The average time for these students to reach their vehicle is 6 minutes of walking which can reach up to 20.
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How much does accommodation cost?
With all the prices in my area, it's literally one of the few decent apartments we could find.
Calculating all the prices students pay for their housing, we see that $640 is the average price of accommodation. While some students were able to find a place for $300, sometimes prices can go up to $4,000 for a place. The most expensive places are in New York state and California.
43% of the students who plan to move are relocating to a more expensive accommodation, while 39% are looking for a cheaper place to live.
32% worry that the rent is going to increase this year, and 28% think they will have more trouble paying the current rate this year.
52% stated their bills increased last year, and 45% think their bills are going to rise even more till the end of the year.
The average electricity and water bills for students are $84 and $71, respectively. The average price for a month of Internet usage is $57.
Among non-private accommodations, uni accommodations are the cheapest, while renting from a private landlord is usually the most expensive choice.
The place is nice, but really it takes forever to get things fixed.
The good thing to know is that 87% of student renters read their contracts before signing them. Among these 87% there were 28% asked the owner of the place to make some changes in the contract.
Half of the respondents mentioned they use money from paid work, 27% from savings or loans, and 17% have bursaries or grants to cover living expenses.
40% receive money from parents or guardians, 15% from their partners, and 7% from other relatives. An average student receives $384 a month from their parents or relatives.
Apart from that, students mentioned rent subsidies and government assistance.
More than 60% don't struggle with paying rent which correlates with the amount of students who say they don`t need to borrow money for rent expenses.
I don’t want to borrow from my folks, so I have to stay in my apartment which is just too small and yet too expensive.
38% of the students don’t feel financially safe and able to sustain themselves without external help.
And if students need to borrow, they mostly go to their family - 83%. Credit cards are the source for 26%, and 13% use overdrafts or payday loans. Among all respondents, 22% borrow from universities, and equally, 4% go to friends or employers. Among other options, students mentioned government assistance.
However, many students still need to cut back on something to cover living expenses, even if there is no need to borrow.
The most common thing students save on is takeaways and eating out - 47%. Three more very common categories are shopping (42%), travel (37%) and socializing (30%). Also, 27% cut back on gifts and holidays and 22% on groceries. Fewer students chose devices and health - 15% each, and the least common category is studying materials (8%).
Only 15% of students don't need to save on anything to pay the rent and bills.
Almost half of the students - 45% feel their mental health is affected by paying rent. While 13% said they permanently feel anxious to keep up with rental payments, 32% experience it sometimes depending on many other factors like college success, additional payments, and so on. In this situation, many feel the need to look for support.
Most of the students look for help from friends - 59% and 52% go to family. Universities and legal professionals are common for 15% of respondents each. 11% look for support online, and 8% don’t need help on this matter. Among other options, students mentioned country housing.
Overall, 77% of students answered that their places are worth their money, and 23% answered no to that question.
The data was collected in October 2022 via a cross-sectional online survey among 2250 individuals enrolled for higher education across the USA. The weighted sample is 52.6% female, and 48.3% male.