Ask the Experts

To the Manor Born

Here at the University, we have adequate housing. What is the deal with some dorms providing pools, gyms and saunas?

You and I have the same question. Who is living this lifestyle, at which colleges and how much is it? Student housing from earlier decades had only one goal; provide students with a place to live. With burgeoning college enrollment, the environment began to change and now that dynamic has changed. It naturally increased demand for off-campus housing, and real estate developers quickly recognized an opportunity. Just as expected, outside developers are more cost-efficient housing developers than the host university. One key source of demand, incoming foreign students, prefer to reside off-campus. You and I both missed out. Read about the privileged few.

Lucky students at the University of Georgia in Athens can choose to stay at The Standard, a luxurious apartment block. The development boasts a rooftop infinity pool, racquetball court, state-of-the-art fitness center, saunas, game room and even a golf simulator. Do they have time to study, with a fully loaded kitchen and en-suite bathroom? Plus, it is close to campus.

The Landmark Apartments, at the University of Maryland campus, is just as lavish, with hardwood floors, in-unit washer dryers, 50-inch flat-screen TVs, and en-suite bathroom for all bedrooms. Each unit is stylishly decorated with modern furniture and fixtures, observes Plumeria Bay home furnishings. You can take a break in the private Zen garden or games room, and the development also boasts 24-hour emergency service and video surveillance for security.

We are bordering on a real estate brochure for a new, Trump-style development. Developers report that the biggest, most expensive units are the first to be rented. The trend is continuing, with select properties more like luxury-style hotels, says corporate housing provider in Cincinnati. The competition for housing is older run-down dorms and local rental properties. Even though parents are spending more dollars, there is no substitute for security and safety so many are happy to pay extra to know their baby is safe.

How about staying at the Osprey Fountains at the University of Florida. It has more than an outdoor pool; it has a lazy river. Add in tennis, volleyball, basketball, running track and putting green. This can cost up to $5,000 per semester.

At the top, there is the Hurlbut at Harvard. Here, you would expect college housing to exude opulence. Rooms have an almost boutique ambience, with quality bedding and duvet covers, unique historic touches and even fireplaces. There is a late-night restaurant, picnic lawn and a price tag up to $10,000 per semester.

Luxury student housing has already become a $5-billion industry. Colleges can devote more financial resources to academic areas, without having to provide student housing. Today, colleges are literally in competition with each other to attract and retain more affluent students. These are students paying the full tuition, without financial aid from the school. Remember, luxury buildings do not want to rent to students, as they are high-risk tenants and disturb other neighbors. Better to put them all together. That was the reason they built the dorms in the first place.

A student’s home is his or her castle.

Nadeem Ghori is the President of Webplex, a digital analytics agency.