Changing Wants and Needs for Student Housing

Every generation makes a mark on commercial real estate. We’ve just adapted to the new lifestyle cultures that Millennials demanded, but now, the industry is approaching another shift. As the latest group is coming of age and attending college, they’re creating waves within the student housing sector.

Born between 1996 and the early 2000s, Gen Z isn’t like their predecessors. This generation, upwards of 90 million strong in the U.S. alone, isn’t being won over by the glitz and glam of entertainment rooms and luxury amenities. Instead, they’ve got their eyes on education, careers, and investing in the future.

As Gen Z’s specific wants and needs are dominating the student housing market, it’s changing the way that communities look, feel, and function. Here’s a look at the student housing market right now:

Student Housing Right Now

Like all of CRE, student housing has been through a tough year. This sector suffered massive disruption as the pandemic swept through the country. With markets closed and classes taking place online, many of student housing’s potential tenants left their college towns to shelter with family.

And, those who didn’t leave suddenly had new demands for their communities. Taking classes online meant that college students needed a place that could function as both a home and classroom. Lightning-fast WiFi and cell connection were a bare necessity for academics, and socially-distant essentials like on-site dining options became a must.

It’s true that today’s new demands for student housing were ushered in by the pandemic. But, the shift away from frivolity and towards efficiency was bound to take place within the student market, anyways. These new needs are shaped around Gen Z – the new generation dominating college campuses.

Gen Z’s Influence

Student housing, meet Gen Z.

Gen Z is serious about putting in work, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that this group is looking for utility, accessibility, and productivity in a student housing community. Right now, Gen Z is gearing up to be the best-educated generation yet – out beating the enrollment volume of Baby Boomers, Millennials, and Gen Xers.

The iGeneration, as Gen Z is often called, is swarming university campuses in greater numbers than ever before. There’s strong competition between student housing communities to attract this promising tenant pool – and property owners are ready to meet their demands.

With Gen Z and post-COVID adapting on the radar, here’s what student housing should prepare for:

1. Bolster Tech Infrastructures

Tech investment is pivotal for winning over Gen Z. Make sure your community is suped-up with technology integration.

2. Look to Lifestyle Needs

Amenities will move away from party areas and towards the necessities. Laundry, food and dining, and interior designs are stealing the spotlight.

3. Multi-Function Spaces

With COVID’s stay-at-home culture sticking around, Gen Z needs their spaces to fit multiple functions. Contemporary student housing needs to foster academic work, relaxation, and a healthy dose of fun. Flexibility is key.

Gen Z is a force to be reckoned with, so be sure that your student housing community is meeting their standards.

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