National Housing Market Outlook

🎓🏠 Intern insights: What do college students really want from housing?

Eric Finnigan photo
Lesley Deutch photo

Eric Finnigan

Lesley Deutch

August 3, 2023
College students moving in dorm

Special thank you to research intern Rylee Whorton for co-authoring this article.

This summer, JBREC welcomed eight talented college students to intern at the company for 10 weeks. It’s been a lively and productive summer, and as their internships end, we are sad to see them go.

Before the end of their time with JBREC, we polled our interns about their student housing preferences. We asked:

  • What’s most important to you in your student housing experience?
  • Is there an ideal student housing unit?
  • And how are you responding to rising rents for student housing?

Our poll captured a wide range of off-campus housing preferences. Conveniently located housing is important to students, and a gym is a highly valued amenity. Rent increases have impacted students’ decisions, like adding additional roommates and renewing their leases.

Our interns have diverse preferences about the ideal off-campus housing and unit size.

  • “I can easily say that living in the house my junior year with only four other roommates was my favorite. Having privacy but also having a few roommates was great for me.” —Jacob Kossman

  • “My preferred living situation has been in my sorority house. The environment strikes the perfect balance between working diligently and enjoying moments of fun and relaxation.” —Rylee Whorton

  • “I also loved living in an apartment because I was able to choose to live with three of my best friends. I like to be around my friends after the school day is done, and the easiest way for me to do that is to live with a lot of people.” —Matt Andelsman

  • “A house is way more accessible and has a lot more privacy than an apartment or a dorm on campus. The more bedrooms, the better, because it makes the rent cheaper for everyone.” —Jacob Salywoda

  • “I have enjoyed living in the houses much more than the dorms. I can be with my best friends, and we can have whoever we want to have over, plus our own kitchen and bathrooms, which is a luxury.” —Drew Hoffman

  • “I prefer to live in student housing with one or two bedrooms because I have a personal preference for fewer roommates.” —Tori Schulman

Most agree that walkability, convenience, and safety set student housing options apart.

  • Proximity to campus is more important than having good amenities. Having to drive to campus is not necessarily a deal breaker for me, but having the option to walk to campus, friends’ houses, etc. is very important.” —Jacob Kossman 

  • “My main priority is location. I want the walk, at most, to be 20 minutes to my class from my housing.” —Rylee Whorton

  • “I look for a location that is relatively safe (extra safety features like key fob access or security personnel is a plus) and convenient access to my classes, activities, and grocery store.” —Tori Schulman 

  • “Even as a commuter student, location was a huge factor. My parents live a 10-minute walk to campus. It didn’t make sense to live in dorms. But I would pay more for a safe and clean location.” —Angelica Cruz 

  • “My top priority is the location. I would prefer to live in a safe area.” —Garik Ghazaryan

A gym is a must-have. 

  • “A fitness center that is an elevator ride from your apartment is extremely convenient and saves a lot of time.” —Tori Schulman

  • “Having access to a gym is crucial for me. The convenience of being able to wake up and start my work out immediately sets a productive tone for the day.” —Rylee Whorton

  • “It was very convenient to have a gym within walking distance of where I was living.” —Matt Andelsman

Rent increases result in more roommates and renewals.

  • “This upcoming year I will be living with five people in a five-bedroom house. We are debating on adding two people to the lease to decrease the rent and make our financial situation more feasible.” —Drew Hoffman

  • Every place is more expensive, so I’m staying put in the house I am in now, despite the rent increase. It has not affected my decision-making.” —Jacob Salywoda

  • “Compared to new lease rates and new lease rate increases, I am better off absorbing the cost of the renewal rather than finding a different community to lease in as a new tenant.” —Tori Schulman

  • “I’m currently living with four other roommates already, so rent increases do not affect me as much as someone who is living by themselves or with just one other roommate.” —Jacob Kossman

Are you a motivated college student graduating in spring 2025 and interested in real estate? You might be the perfect candidate for a John Burns Research & Consulting summer internship. We will accept applications for the summer 2024 intern class in October. Follow JBREC on LinkedIn to find out more.

JBREC offers a full suite of real estate consulting services for the housing market, including rent and lease-up recommendations, demand analysis, market feasibility, and more. Contact us if you want to learn more about our products and services.

Thank you to Rylee Whorton for co-authoring this article.

Rylee Whorton

Research/Demographics Intern

Rylee is currently attending the University of Southern California and will be graduating Spring, 2024 with her BA in International Relations Global Business and a minor in Psychology.

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About The Author

Eric Finnigan photo
Eric Finnigan
Vice President of Demographics Research
Eric co-leads demographics research at JBREC, helping clients understand how trends in population, households, and migration impact housing demand. He also oversees the US Remodeler Index, a quarterly survey covering the residential remodeling industry.
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Lesley Deutch
Managing Principal
Lesley has more than 25 years of experience consulting with executives in the finance and real estate industries throughout North America. She works across a wide spectrum of industries including apartments, for-sale housing, high-rise development, urban projects, single-family rental, building products, and commercial developments.

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