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The ongoing metamorphosis of university student accommodation

student accommodation
Nothing is constant except change, and the same can be said about student accommodation. Source: Shutterstock

Today’s student accommodation – most notably private ones – have undergone rapid transformation. 

Gone are the days where modest student digs sufficed. These days, both universities and private student housing developers have bolstered efforts to keep up with the times, offering students co-ed, communal, eco-friendly, alcohol-free or tiny houses, to name a few, to cater to students of varied backgrounds. 

With the growing awareness of the plight faced by LBGT students, an increasing number of universities are offering – or thinking of offering – LGBT student housing as such students still face discrimination by pockets of communities.

Over in the US, UK and Australia, luxury student housing is growing in popularity for students from more affluent backgrounds. Depending on the accommodation provider, students may enjoy state-of-the-art facilities including cinemas, gyms and game rooms, to name a few.

However, in New Zealand, stuff reported that there are university students shunning communal living for townhouses and apartments.

A paradigm shift


Prineshan Moodley, Waikato University student, is renting the Hamilton studio unit, a modern unit with its own ensuite and kitchenette. It is also equipped with fibre broadband.

And he isn’t the only student living in the five-unit townhouse on Knighton Road.

According to the report, Moodley, 29, is among the growing number of university students who prefer the convenience and comfort of modern townhouses and apartments over flatting in a 1960s era house.

“Previously, about seven years ago, I lived on Clyde St with four other people in a three-bedroom house. It had single glazing, it was always cold and it was damp,” said Moodley to stuff.

His current studio is five years old, while his room is “about twice the size of a bedroom you’d get in a full-sized house”.

“I don’t have to worry about looking after gardens or maintenance and I’m not stuck with a contract where I have to worry about finding a flatmate if someone moves out,” he said, adding that one of his former Clyde St flatmates once added NZ$500 to the flat’s monthly power bill after running a fan heater in his bedroom.

His fully-furnished studio unit costs him NZ$245 a week and includes power and wifi, while he also has access to a shared kitchen, laundry and lounge.

To leave his unit, he only has to give three weeks’ notice.

The changing face of student housing

Lodge City Rentals general manager David Kneebone was quoted saying that the shift in student accommodation away from large three- and four-bedroom houses started 15 years ago.

However, the trend has accelerated in the past five years, particularly along Knighton Rd, Cameron Rd and Hogan St.

Kneebone said university students want to have fun, but that “they’re a bit more serious and a bit more studious”. He added that apartments and studio units help facilitate that change.

Townhouses and apartments are popular with international students who don’t want to go through the hassle of finding flatmates, while developers have responded accordingly to the market demand.

“Although a room in a four-bedroom house might only cost NZ$150 there are a lot of other considerations to think about such as being liable for your flatmates’ behaviour. Also, I’d suggest a lot of uni students come from places where they’ve had their own bathroom. So, we’re all getting used to more comfort,” he said.

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