The Best Cities to Invest in Student Housing in the USA - 2020 Edition

Monday, March 1, 2021

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2020 has been an unprecedented year that has impacted the rental market across the United States. The off-campus housing market has been affected by dropping rental vacancy rates and changes to on-campus housing availability, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite all, Places4Students.com outlines below this year’s recommendation of cities with the potential for success in off-campus housing investments.

 

*The methodology for determining these cities has been based on rental vacancy rates, enrolment statistics at major schools, as well changes to on-campus housing availability during the pandemic.

 

Richmond, Virginia
 

The city of Richmond has seen a decrease in rental availability over the last year. Because of this, students have found themselves in need of housing in a very limited market.

 

  • The rental vacancy rate in Richmond, VA has decreased from 4.0% in the fourth quarter of 2019, to 0.5% at the same time in 2020
  • The average rental rate is $1,112.00/month
  • The University of Richmond has a total enrolment of 4,002 students across all programs

 

Due to the pandemic, the University of Richmond had to reduce room occupancy sizes in their on-campus housing accommodations. Even though the university has moved most courses to remote learning, there are still students that need to be near campus for in-person lab hours. As a result, more students are in need of off-campus housing in Richmond.  

 

Rochester, New York

 

The area of Rochester, New York has various university and college campuses within its vicinity including The University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, Monroe Community College, Nazareth College, and St. John Fisher College.

 

  • Rochester’s rental vacancy rate has dropped by 92.3% from 15.5% in the fourth quarter of 2019 to 1.2% in the fourth quarter of 2020
  • The average rent in the city is $1,058.00/month
  • The University of Rochester is home to 12,233 students campus-wide

 

The University of Rochester is just one of our partner schools that had to make the difficult decision to limit their housing on-campus. Rochester has a cumulative student population of over 45,000 and the drop in rental vacancies has impacted many students needing to live there during the school year.

 

Fresno, California

 

Fresno is one of a few locations in California that is seeing a need for additional student housing.

 

  • The rental vacancy rate in Fresno decreased 54.6% in the last year from 7.8% to 1.9%
  • Enrolment at California State University, Fresno totaled 12,233 students during the 2019-2020 school year
  • The average rent per month in Fresno is $1,116

 

The president of CSU Fresno announced that their on-campus housing would be limited to single occupancy moving forward to keep students living there safe.

 

Buffalo, New York

 

The second-largest city in New York State, Buffalo is home to the population of an estimated 255,284 people, according to a 2019 US census.

 

  • The rental vacancy rate in Buffalo is down 56.3%, from 6.4% to 2.8% in the last year
  • The average rental rate in Buffalo is $1,064.00 per month
  • Enrolment at the University of Buffalo was 31,923 during the 2019-2020 school year

 

The University of Buffalo decided to limit their on-campus housing capacity to 60% following the developments of the pandemic this past year.

 

Allentown, PA

 

Located in Pennsylvania, Allentown is considered the third most populous city in the state.

 

  • The rental vacancy rate in Allentown, PA has dropped by 74.8% from 11.5% to 2.9% in just this last year
  • Allentown, PA is home to Cedar Crest College which had over 1,500 students enrolled during the 2019-2020 school year
  • The average rental rate is $1,127.00 per month

 

Cedar Crest College has also implemented a re-opening plan after consulting with their local health systems. The college will be limiting the number of students in one space and also housing them in specific cohorts to help reduce the frequency students come into contact with other individuals.

 

San Jose, California

 

In addition to Fresno, San Jose is on the list of California cities in need of additional off-campus housing.

 

  • The rental vacancy rate in San Jose dropped from the fourth quarter of 2019 to the fourth quarter of 2020 from 15.2% to 3.4%
  • The average rent per month is $2,7190.00
  • San Jose State University had approximately 36,000 students enrolled during the 2019-2020 school year

 

San Jose State University announced that they would be operating on-campus housing at a maximum of half capacity.

 

Los Angeles, California

The last city from California on the list is Los Angeles – home to various schools such as Occidental College, Los Angeles College of Music, and UCLA.

 

  • The rental vacancy rate in LA was 3.0% in the fourth quarter of 2020, compared with 11.1% at the same time in 2019
  • UCLA had 46,000 students enrolled campus-wide during the 2019-2020 school year
  • The average rent in LA is $2,545.00 per month

 

Colleges and universities in LA have had to limit their capacity on-campus due to Los Angeles County guidelines. UCLA announced limiting its capacity in residence halls on-campus to one student per bedroom. Occidental College has also reduced its capacity in on-campus housing and is housing students in single-only rooms.

 

Seattle, Washington

 

Seattle, Washington is on the list again this year from 2019.

 

  • During the fourth quarter of 2020, the vacancy rate in Seattle dropped from 4.2% from a vacancy rate of 5.3% in 2019
  • The average rental rate in Seattle is $2,139.00 per month
  • Seattle University had 7,050 students enrolled during the 2019-2020 school year

 

Seattle University also followed suit with many other academic institutions and reduced the capacity of their residence halls to single occupancy only.


*The above data reflects enrolment, vacancy, and average rental rates from 2019 to 2020. The average rental rates are based on all available rental types.

 

Sources: Current Population Survey/Housing Vacancy Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC 20233 & RENTCafé National Rent Report

 

 

SEE ALSO:  The Best Cities to Invest in Student Housing in the USA – 2019 Edition



The Places4Students.com Team