For those of us who lived away from home during college, student housing is fondly recalled – not so much with love, but for its squalor.

In universities with on-campus accommodations such as dormitories or near-campus housing that range from the tight squeeze of bedspacers and studio apartments to house rentals shared with close friends, the norm is shabby living conditions. Whether this is a reflection of how students like to live or the default set-up, it’s unclear but the times, as a song once put it, are a-changin’.

Based on the number of condo developments that have sprung up close to university belts, it seems that property developers have finally come around and recognized student housing as something other than small fry. With the Ayala-led Alveo brand crafting Celadon Park near Manila’s U-belt, the bar for student digs is gradually getting high.

The ready-made market

For students, the benefits of a condo purpose-built for their needs are immediately clear. By sheer proximity to the school, student condo allows them to avoid long commutes, have more time for school work, social activities with their peers, and of course, rest.

Establishing some sort of independence is also not a small thing. For parents, the close location to the school translates to their college-bound kid’s safety and security.

For the developers, its a market ripe for the taking. As long as there are schools and students, there will always be a steady and perpetual demand for student housing. Building a condo is not just filling in a demand – it’s also driving the growth of ancillary businesses: laundry shops, net cafes, and student diners. From there, it’s not a far leap to bars and nightclubs.

However, compared to condos targeted for first-home buyers, condos built for students are a relatively new trend. And it shows. Browsing the list of projects near universities and colleges, most are spanking new, many are pre-selling, and a few are leveraging their established presence in the area.

Souped up digs at low-cost

As it uses condo construction standards, new student-targeted condos promise better living conditions than dormitories built quite a few years back. Moreover, with a target demographic that are as young and with as specific of needs as college students, these condos are marketed to appeal with their purpose-built features. A few of these are high-speed wifi connection, numerous electrical sockets for phones and laptops, pool, gym, spacious common rooms, and even game rooms.

However, the student condo’s biggest selling point is its low cost. With an average selling price that ranges from less than a million to PHP 1.5 million, student condos present an attractive investment for parents who do long-term planning for their children’s education.

There is also a growing market for student condos as the influx of international students increases. With the Philippines dubbed as the world’s “budget English teacher” as reported in a BBC article, the country is fast becoming the go-to place for overseas students who want to learn English or study in an English-speaking university.

The Bureau of Immigration recently disclosed that Koreans dominate the foreign student admissions at Philippine universities and are soon followed by Indian nationals, Iranians, and the Chinese. Also on the top list of foreign students are Nepalese and Nigerians.

A global and online trend

Unsurprisingly, local property developers are not the only ones who have sensed a good deal on the student market.

In the United States, student housing is taken up by private developers who consider it as one of the best kept-secrets in real estate. They believe that with an end-user as sophisticated as students, there is a market for high-end student housing with the works: villa-style set-up with private bedrooms and baths, professional-grade kitchens, plasma-screen TVs, high-speed wifi in every room, hot tubs, and even tanning booths.

In the UK, the student housing trend goes as far as an online business with platforms like iQ Student Accommodation and Studentpad. Investors are also drawn to the student market as developers offer irresistible rental guarantees for a set number of years while shouldering property management and tenant-sourcing in return for just a small investment.

Locally, there are also small businesses who target this niche market. An example is University Belt Condos with listings from the, well, University Belt. With established developers and bit-players tapping into this promising market, this housing trend is here to stay and demands your attention now.

Do you think the student condo is a new housing market? Why or why not? Kindly share your thoughts by commenting below.

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