University of Georgia students are likely to see their costs of living increase next year — both on and off campus.
According to a February 2016 apartment price report from Apartment List, the cost of rent in Georgia has risen by 5.1 percent since last year, compared to the national average of a 3.3 percent increase over the same period. In Athens, prices have gone up even more, increasing more than 20 percent, from a median two-bedroom price of $620 last January to $750 in February 2016, according to Apartment List.
This increase has some students worried over housing for next semester.
“I think they know that they can get away with the increase in price because there are so many new luxury housing options that are popping up downtown,” said Lilian Zhu, a sophomore from Iowa City, Iowa, living at Waterford Place, owned by Whistlebury Properties. “I think it’s gotten out of hand.”
With the increase of luxury housing downtown, students like Zhu are concerned that living cheaply and close to campus will soon be impossible.
Sarah Williams, a representative for Whistlebury Properties, said the company conducts surveys to help them decide rates for the upcoming year,
“We do annual market rates market surveys when establishing rent rates for the next year,” she said. “Specifically, our two bedroom units ran $550 per bedroom last year, and it was increased to $580 per bedroom for the upcoming fall.”
Those looking to stay in University of Georgia housing also face a considerable increase in rates, which has the potential to affect freshmen. All freshmen are required to live in university housing unless granted an exemption, for which only about two percent of freshmen are eligible.
University Housing rates for 2016-2017 have been posted online, and reflect an increase in prices over last year’s rates.
“They are still pending Board of Regents approval, but they represent a three percent increase across the board over the 2015-2016 rates,” said Carrie Campbell, senior public relations coordinator for University Housing.
This increase in rent has led students to seek out affordable places to live earlier than ever before, with many students signing leases nearly a year in advance.
“Typically, most students don’t really start searching until January, but we saw a peak this past October and November that doesn’t usually occur,” said Jeremy Schmidt, director of marketing for Rent College Pads.
Despite the increases, Georgia remains one of the cheapest states in the U.S. in terms of rent.
“Georgia remains one of the nation’s most affordable places to live, with two-bedroom rents averaging $990 statewide,” said Andrew Woo, data scientist and manager of growth strategy at Apartment List.
Although Athens’ average rent of $750 is comparably cheaper to the state average, the yearly increase has the Athens’ housing market becoming increasingly competitive for students, with students committing to housing earlier each year.
“By next year, students may need to start their housing search for fall 2017 in fall 2016,” Schmidt said. “Especially with higher bedroom count houses.”