Want to know if your rental property is close enough to reach the college student market? The average distance a student will typically live from campus is less than 3 miles. Some will live only within 1 mile from classes while others are willing to live within 5 miles or more.
There are certain factors which entice students to rent much further from their college or university. While supply and demand is a huge part of filling a vacancy, sometimes it just takes the right set of features to match what renters desire.
By making sure your rental is appealing to students seeking to live off campus, you will substantially increase the chance of finding a regular flow of renters. Let’s take a look at some details to see if your rental has what students are seeking.
Just how far from college will a student rent
After completing a study of 404 rentals near college campuses, we were able to determine the maximum distance from college you should reasonably expect a student to rent.
Using information from dozens of websites advertising to the college student population we calculated the distance from the center of campus to determine the average and longest distance rentals were generally available.
From this data, you can see how far landlords are willing to advertise to the student market to seek out this lucrative market of renters.
While it does not mean students won’t rent further away, it does show that other landlords are having success renting far from campus and provides insight on what may just be too long for a student to commute.
The chart below shows various colleges throughout the US along with a brief analysis of the private rentals furthest from the campus.
|Rutgers University – New Brunswick, NJ||124 properties were reviewed. The furthest was 5.1 miles from the center of campus on College Avenue. This was a one bedroom apartment that was about a 20 minute drive on a Monday morning.|
|Lehigh University – Bethlehem, PA||23 properties were reviewed. The furthest was 6.6 miles from the Lehigh University Art Gallery. This was a 5 bedroom, 3.5 bath house with both short and long term lease options. The property is also within reach of Moravian College.|
|Northwestern University – Evanston, Il||53 properties were reviewed. The furthest rental was 12.6 miles from Clark Avenue. This is a multi-unit with 1 & 2 bedroom apartments. It can take as long as 45 minutes to drive on a Monday morning.|
|Occidental College – Los Angeles, CA||9 properties were reviewed. The furthest was 16.8 miles to Campus Drive, as long as 45 minutes in Monday morning traffic. This was a one bedroom, one bath townhouse in a gated community within reach of other schools and amusement parks.|
|San Francisco State University – San Francisco, CA||43 properties were reviewed. The furthest apartment was 8.5 miles with a 20-40 minute commute on Monday morning. This was a one bedroom shared space with views and close to shops.|
|University Of Delaware – Newark, DE||12 properties were reviewed. The furthest was 5.5 miles, a 14-20 minute drive on Monday morning. This was a one bedroom townhome with a short term lease available.|
|University of Rochester, Rochester, NY||63 properties were reviewed. The furthest rental was 5.3 miles from the downtown campus which can take 9-16 minutes to drive on a Monday. This was a three bedroom townhouse also close to RIT. Nearly all of the rentals were more than one mile from campus.|
|Washington State University – Spokane, WA||25 properties were reviewed. The furthest was 12.6 miles with a 20-30 minute commute on a Monday morning. This was a one bedroom condo close to shopping and grade schools. More than half of the vacancies were 3+ miles from the university.|
|Wilmington University – New Castle, DE||21 properties were reviewed. The furthest was 15.1 miles with an average 18-28 minute commute on Monday morning. This was a furnished shared space for students.|
|Penn State – Erie, PA||22 properties were reviewed. Half of them were greater than 1 mile from campus. The furthest away was 6.8 miles which would take about 10 minutes to drive. This rental is very close to an entrance to I-90.|
While the distance varies a bit from school to school, we were able to collect the data to seek out the longest distance that you should consider targeting the college market. This may include students, graduates or faculty / staff looking for a rental away from the college, but still within reach.
The chart below shows the number of rentals advertised to college students within various distances.
As you might expect, most of the off campus apartments and rentals we found were closer to campus, typically less than 3 miles. However, most colleges had a few properties that were far from campus compared to the others. Less than 40% of all the rentals in our study were within 1 mile of campus while 6% were greater than 5 miles away.
While the furthest rental property advertised to students was 16.8 miles from campus in Los Angeles, this is not likely to represent the typical college off campus rental. There are other colleges within a shorter distance and other markets that may consider that rental. But clearly the landlord felt the property was within reach, perhaps had prior renters from that college.
There was no real difference based on location of the college or university within the United States. Generally, the distance a landlord will find student renters is the same in the northeast, south and west coast.
However there were some differences between specific colleges. Urban areas tended to have more rentals closer to the campus.
Top reasons students live far from campus
Even though your rental may be far from campus, here are some reasons students will still want to rent from you.
Not too far from campus
Independence – After a year or two in a dorm room, many students just want to live on their own. It doesn’t matter where as much as just being independent.
Don’t get along with roommates – Young adults are just figuring things out and maybe their choice of roommates was not the greatest so they want to move on.
Less restrictions – Some students want to live near campus but without the rules of college housing. Any place will do.
Far from campus
Proximity to something fun (i.e. Football stadiums and bars) – Your rental may not be as close to the center of campus but if students are finding their way to a popular bar, or attractions you may have a winner.
Need a larger place for a larger group – College students love to live together. Often a group of 5 or more students will seek out a bigger house that fits their needs, even if it is many miles from campus.
Market for student housing – If there are not enough rentals closer to campus, students are certainly willing to look further away. Many miles in fact.
House set up for students – Landlords who have a rental specifically marketed towards students with individual rooms with separate locks, separate bathrooms and a common area can get away with renting a lot further from campus. Big apartment communities do this all the time.
Very far from campus
Faculty & Staff – Often faculty and staff who spend their entire day on campus need a break from student life and prefer to live further away from campus.
Closer to boyfriend/girlfriend – Nothing will stop love.
Eviction – When a student gets evicted, her or she may have no other place to live – even if it is very far from campus.
Lack of credit history or background check issues – Good landlords will complete background checks. Some students won’t have adequate history to show good results. Others may have a few issues paying off a credit card so getting into an apartment near campus can be a problem.
Nothing available (may just need a room) – Some students wait too long to look for a rental or maybe what they had planned fell through. At this point, an apartment very far from campus is okay.
Off-cycle or short term lease – Most student rentals are leased June through May, or September through August. Sometimes a student may need an off-cycle apartment such as if they switch schools, were living at home, or something happened to make their last rental unlivable.
What students look for in a rental
Here are a few things that will make a long distance college rental more enticing:
Separate bedrooms with key lock – While students enjoy companionship, having their own separate space is paramount. Providing a separate room that can be locked when they are not around to give a student peace of mind will mean a lot when it comes to comparing rentals.
Separate bathrooms – Nobody likes cleaning up after someone else, particularly college students. When a student renter can have their own private bathroom, it will get very high marks versus another rental with shared bathroom space.
Parking or walking to public transportation – Knowing there is ample parking or a private space when coming home from a long day of classes or activities will go a long way when considering your rental over another.
Quick access to a highway leading to the college – Even though your apartment is far away from the college or university campus, being able to quickly get on a highway and zip across town to get to class will make it seem a lot closer.
Shared living and kitchen area – Students love the social aspect of college living. They want to hang out, compare ideas, and get to know each other. Think of a “Friends” Thanksgiving dinner one week before the holiday. Give them some shared space with private rooms and distance will be no problem.
High speed Internet access – Today’s students can’t live without it. Make sure you are serving up super high-speed service and let them know abou it,
Is your rental close enough to campus?
If you are a landlord with a rental far from campus, you can still land a steady stream of great student renters. Make sure you identify the benefits that set your property apart from other rentals. Distance matters, but sometimes certain features about your home or location will make the difference in quickly filling a vacancy.
Keep in mind that there are many commercial apartment communities many miles from campus who advertise to the university crowd. They realize there is a small subset of the population who are looking for what they offer. The same holds true for private landlord rentals.