Recently I had conversations with college graduates about how much they pay for their apartments now versus how much they paid while living in college housing. The main point that I took away from these discussions is that college students are getting ripped off when it comes to housing.
Some of these recent grads pay a little less and some of them a little more than what I pay monthly right now. Yet most of them seem to have more upscale housing than the typical college house. I’m talking granite counter tops in the kitchen and bathroom, walk-in closets that I would consider giving an arm to have right now, reliable central air and new appliances including the ever-desired refrigerator with an ice and water dispenser which would replace that annoying Brita that doesn’t refill itself.
My house has a couple sets of stairs where there is a random short step that will take my friends down if they’re not careful where they place their feet. My basement has four uneven walls with sporadic holes cut out of the bottom of them. My housemate’s room has a hole in the ceiling where water leaks in when it rains. The walls are paper-thin and I can hear when my neighbor coughs. A raccoon threw a party in my attic for a week and we just had to hope he would go away because there is no access to the attic from the inside of the house. I haven’t heard him prancing around up there in a while, but I’m not placing any bets that he’s actually gone.
Despite all of these issues, my house is still pretty nice compared to many of Ohio State’s off-campus houses that I have seen. My house does have a tile floor in the kitchen, decent-sized rooms, a proportionate number of bathrooms, a dishwasher, central air and a washer and dryer. However, I know for certain that I’m paying less than some without these amenities.
Perhaps location is one reason for these price differences. I live in a five-bedroom, four-bathroom duplex on South Campus and pay $175 a month less than a friend who lives on North Campus in a four-bedroom, two-bathroom house. My other friend living in downtown Denver pays about the same price as her.
I don’t think this system of overcharging students for housing with sometimes laughable living conditions is going to change anytime soon. Students will pay these prices simply because these houses are their only options if they want to have a walkable commute to campus. My best suggestion is to get a good landlord. It will occasionally reduce the sting you feel when you pay that monthly rent if you know it’s going to someone who will take care of things when they’re broken.