Off-Campus Student Housing: Finding the Best Rents & Investments

Off-Campus Student Housing: Where to Find the Best Rents and Investments


College students will be returning to their dorms in massive numbers nationwide this time of year. Near many universities located on the coasts, such as Stanford, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), Georgetown University and many others, returning students will be paying over-market rates for their leases, which typically last between nine months and a year.

“Tuition for many colleges and universities is soaring, forcing students and their families to utilize single-family rentals (SFRs) and other living situations off-campus,” says Steve Hovland, director of research for HomeUnion®. “To minimize living expenses, students in high-rent areas like the Bay Area, Boston and Washington, D.C., can rent properties further than two miles from campus or choose to have roommates in a rental home. But if these options are still too expensive for them, and debt burden is a major concern, students can choose to attend universities in Sunbelt markets.”

To help these students make affordable rental living decisions, and to provide single-family rental (SFR) investors with insight into submarkets with solid rents and low entry prices, HomeUnion® Research Services has compiled a list of the most inexpensive college towns for off-campus living.

“It’s not surprising that many of the institutions in our study are located in Sunbelt markets – Texas and Florida,” remarks Steve Hovland, director of research for HomeUnion®. “Rents are still very reasonable near campuses that are highly sought-after among SFR investors, such as Austin, Orlando and Dallas.” “Real estate investors are bullish on these investment markets due to attractive entry prices and yields. They all have solid cap rates above 4 and 5 percent, and entry prices below $300,000.”

Here’s a list of seven college towns with the most affordable off-campus rents based on the discount between near-campus rents and market rents:


Submarket/MetroMedian Rent <2 MilesMarket RentMarket DifferenceCap Rate

Metro Median Home Price

Texas State University at San MarcosSan Marcos, Texas/Austin




Valencia CollegeOrlando, Fla.




University of South FloridaTampa, Fla.




University of Texas at ArlingtonArlington, Texas/Dallas




University of North Texas at DentonDenton, Texas/Dallas




Source: HomeUnion® Research Services

HomeUnion® also compiled a list of the off-campus student housing markets with the highest rent burdens:


Submarket/MetroMedian Rent (<2 Miles)

% Above Market

University of California, Los AngelesLos Angeles/Westwood



Stanford UniversitySan Jose/Stanford, Calif.



Georgetown UniversityGeorgetown/Washington, D.C.



George Washington UniversityCBD/Washington, D.C.



Michigan State UniversityEast Lansing, Mich.



University of MiamiMiami/Coral Gables, Fla.



West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia/West Chester, Pa.



University of California, IrvineOrange County/Irvine, Calif.



University of California, BerkeleyOakland/Berkeley, Calif.



Florida Atlantic UniversityWest Palm Beach/
Boca Raton, Fla.



Source: HomeUnion® Research Services

Nancy Maje Gillis Aug 26 2017 - 3:50 PM
Did I miss where it says how many bedrooms these rents are for? When they mention these rents, are they talking per bedroom, or are these rents for a 3-bedroom house, or a 4-bedroom house? Or a 2 bedroom condo? That piece of information is crucial. Without it, the article is kind of meaningless.
    Stacey Corso Aug 27 2017 - 6:21 PM
    These are average rents for all single-family properties within the analyzed area. On average, they’re 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom homes.

Ready to learn more? Schedule a call