What Students Want in Apartments

In-demand amenities to consider at off-campus housing to attract and retain student renters.

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Student housing costs top the list of university-related expenses, prompting a large number of students to save money on rent by living further away from the campus.

Sometimes, living on-campus just isn’t a possibility, so students often opt for renting out an apartment. This decision requires careful analysis, especially after many students have faced challenges caused by the COVID-19 situation. The changing landscape has resulted in a shift in the things they look for when searching for an apartment—and student housing operators and managers should keep a close eye on these trends. Here’s what they need to know to make sure the listings match the students’ expectations:

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Location, location, location

A good location is the most sought-after feature students look for when entering the apartment hunt frenzy. While near-campus apartments are in high demand, young renters will take into consideration features such as the distance from stores, eateries, cafes, pharmacies, libraries and other amenities. Getting a feel of the neighborhood is equally important, as a good number of students prefer apartments located in quiet areas so they can study and rest without disturbances. Make sure you are able to offer a video tour of the apartment—and even of the neighborhood, highlighting the most interesting places around the property, such as parks, grocery stores and other essential establishments.


Getting from point A to point B hassle-free and safely is paramount these days. For students who own a car, public transit is not a priority. In most cases, they will look for apartments in buildings with garages or other parking options. But, for students who rely on public transportation to get to and from campus, proximity to mass transit or access to bike lanes is a must-have. So, before you list your apartment(s), be sure the ad includes details about the building’s garage, if any, as well as nearby public transit options.


One of the perks of on-campus housing is constant security, but most of the time this doesn’t apply to off-campus housing units. Before welcoming new renters, check that the door locks work properly and test the property’s video surveillance system.


According to a popular 30 percent rule of thumb, you shouldn’t spend more than 30 percent of your gross income on rent, as there are other costs to be paid along the way such as utilities or renter’s insurance. University dormitory-style rooms are usually the most affordable, but not the most popular due to lack of privacy. Before listing your property, you may want to do a little research and see how your asking rents compare to similar properties in your area. You may even want to lower the rates a bit or offer discounts to attract student renters.


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Many universities turned to online classes during the pandemic, boosting demand for secure and consistent internet connectivity. The pandemic accelerated the need for wireless door locks, and remote thermostat control and water monitoring are among the most sought-after amenities for eco-conscious renters. It goes without saying that your property should feature fast, secure and affordable internet access and even quiet rooms and spaces for Zoom calls.

Furnishing & appliances

Good furniture and functional home appliances are meant to ease a student’s daily life. Air conditioning is a must for apartment buildings located in warmer-climate regions, while reliable heating systems are one of the most sought-after amenities in areas where winters are long and cold. Laundry services or proximity to laundromats are a must for students, who often dread these time-consuming chores. 


Surprisingly, students own a lot of things—from bikes and sports equipment to clothes, boxes and boxes with boxes—so they will need extra storage space. Does your property offer that? Or are there any self storage facilities nearby? How about secure storage areas for mail and inbound packages?

Lease flexibility

The pandemic has caused unprecedented disruptions to the real estate sector but also paved the way for changes in landlord-renter dynamics. As campuses shut down, many students lost their jobs and found themselves unable to pay their rent. In order to avoid these unpleasant situations, students are now looking for flexibility in lease terms—including the option of subletting the place, signing leases at a later date but also transparency in issues concerning refund policies or any fees associated with the rental.

Health and safety

COVID-19 continues to be a very real concern. Students—or any renter, for that matter—have started paying more attention to the initiatives landlords and property managers are implementing in response to the outbreak.  So, as a property manager, you should ramp up cleaning and sanitizing the common areas and organize regular virtual meetings with the residents to keep them informed on the latest pandemic-related rules in your area.

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