What do students want from their accommodation in 2021?
It’s no secret that this year, university accommodation has been on the minds of thousands of students, with some expressing concern, worry and anxiety about what the future holds for them, their mental health, and where they choose to stay during their studies.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shaped the academic year for students, and their experiences and decision-making have been hugely affected.
In fact, for many students, the key decisions they have to make about where to live during term time have been out of their control, with the frequent national lockdowns requiring the majority to take their studies online.
Despite this uncertainty and the worries coupled with Brexit, the market has still shown rapid growth, with the rise over the last decade meaning the student accommodation sector is now valued at over £50 billion.
While the landscape of student property may be shifting slightly post-pandemic, our survey of students living across Greater Manchester, including Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Manchester, and Salford University delivered some surprising results.
So what do students want from their accommodation in 2021?
Many have already booked their accommodation
A survey conducted by homes4u in the first quarter of 2021 showed almost 63% of those asked have already secured their student housing for next year.
Given the disruptions to the last two academic years, along with the limited contact many will have had in person with their classmates, it may be expected that students would put off house hunting and securing uni accommodation until later in the year.
Interestingly, however, the statistics show that this doesn’t seem to be the case, with the majority of students asked confirming they have already secured their living arrangements for the next academic year.
Almost 20% of survey respondents said they’d look to find a place in the summer holidays while 8% confirmed they’d begin their search before the summer break begins.
This agreement to rent shows positive signs for the student housing real estate market, as it’s still reasonably unclear how much in-person teaching students can expect from their university in 2021/22.
They like the idea of inclusive bills
Stability is important to students, and as undergraduates across the country start to look for their next student home, we asked whether inclusive bills packages were important to them.
Inclusive bills are often restricted to private halls or purpose-built student accommodation, but landlords may wish to look at offering packages for students where bills are included in the price of their rent.
In our survey, 62% of respondents cited all-inclusive bills as an important factor in their decision-making, whereas just 2% confirmed it wasn’t important to them.
The stability of the same amount of money being paid each month during term time may appeal to students, as they can better manage their money alongside their studies. This all-inclusive option may also appeal to international students, as they won’t need to navigate complicated payment structures alongside their accommodation costs.
Students want space too
If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it’s how much we need and valuable space for ourselves, and students are no different.
While landlords often consider converting the living spaces into additional bedrooms, it may be interesting reading for landlords to know that 45% of those asked in the recent survey are only seeking one and two-bedroom properties for the next academic year.
However, there is still demand for properties with more bedrooms, with an average of 50% of respondents looking for between a three and six-bedroom home for the academic year ahead.
Large and spacious bedrooms, an en-suite and outdoor space are the most sought-after property features for students. When seeking out a property as a landlord, these factors should be considered.
Other key drivers for students searching for good accommodation included fast wifi, good quality appliances and close links to public transport and supermarkets.
Stand out comments from the survey show that students care about the spaces they live in, with natural light, a safe location and outdoor space also highlighted as an important factor during the decision making process.
Students also want to be able to rely on their landlord for any repairs. They expect any issues they have to be fixed, and queries or concerns responded to in good time.
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic
While we’ve touched upon the impact the pandemic has had on studying, lectures and face-to-face learning, the results of the survey produced some surprising results when COVID-19 was taken into account.
Many students have already secured their accommodation for the next academic year, but over 60% of those asked said that the pandemic has impacted their decision on when to sign for student housing.
This may suggest that students want confirmation that their accommodation for the following year is secured, even though many other factors around university life are still uncertain.
Searching for student accommodation
It can be daunting to look for the right student accommodation, especially if you are new to the city or area.
Not secured your accommodation for 2021/22 yet?
It can be helpful to use the following advice to ensure you secure the right student home:
Decide how many people to live with – Knowing how many rooms to search for will narrow down your options
Set and agree on a budget – bills aren’t always included in the price of rent, so this will need to be accounted for with your accommodation cost
Choose an area – is it important to be near the city center or would you rather be close to campus?
Know your must-haves – Agree in your group what key features your property needs to have; Is it double bedrooms? Close to nightlife? On a bus route? Make sure these are in line before starting the search
Guarantor – All student tenants need a UK resident (normally a parent) who can confirm the terms of the tenancy. Find out more about guarantors here.
Secure your accommodation for 2021/22 and let our team of experts at homes4u help. We can assist with securing the right place, managing your property and any guidance you may need about the area. Get in touch today