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Student Housing Sector Makes Strong Post-Pandemic Recovery

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Planning + Development

Student Housing Sector Makes Strong Post-Pandemic Recovery

College campuses are coming back to life after years of strict COVID-19 restrictions and remote learning ordinances, and an increase in enrollment is creating new demand for student housing


September 20, 2022
Red brick student dormitories on college campus
Image: Stock.adobe.com

At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, universities across the U.S. paused all on-campus activity and switched to remote learning, forcing thousands of students to leave student housing and return home. Two years later, enrollment outlook is strong, on-campus occupancies are growing at a rapid clip, and pre-leasing is up 10% year-over-year as of July, according to John Burns Real Estate Consulting.

With increased demand also comes a shift in housing development, leading to more pedestrian-friendly dormitory communities and apartment complexes. Increased enrollment also means that colleges and universities are building more student housing complexes and investing more money in new renovations and amenities.

  • In the past 10 to 15 years, student housing has become more pedestrian-friendly.
  • When land is scarce, student housing can be very vertical, and not just in urban centers.
  • Complexes with 500–1,000 units are most efficiently managed.
  • Since private student housing is not usually on campus, having access to shuttles and buses is key, particularly in cold winter climes.

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