Luxurious living: Student housing becomes more upscale

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Student housing across the nation has shifted from small rooms and mini fridges to luxurious suites, according to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and Provo seems to be no exception.

The game room at The Village at South Campus has extra space for residents to relax and have fun. (Photo by Chris Bunker)
The lounge room at The Village at South Campus has extra space for residents to relax and have fun. (Photo by Chris Bunker)

Student housing units strive to remain competitive in a market with high turnover rates and a steady influx of consumers. The results include additional amenities aimed at attracting students whose parents are often willing to help pay the bill.

New complexes around BYU’s campus include indoor pools, hot tubs, gyms, free Wi-Fi, restaurants and indoor sport courts. Because students move almost every semester, housing developers go above and beyond to make complexes as unique and attractive as possible.

Jonathan McClurg, a senior at BYU, has noticed that newer complexes around campus are much nicer than most others.

“The new (complexes) like The Isles and The Village — those are some of the newest that I’ve been in and I think they’re really good for students,” McClurg said.

The Village at South Campus provides free Wi-Fi, an indoor pool and hot tub, gym, lounge area and a restaurant attached to its complex. The Isles has similar amenities and even includes a full-court basketball court.

According to McClurg, however, it’s not just off-campus housing that’s upscale. McClurg lived in the Helaman Halls as a freshman at BYU and thinks they’re nicer than many university dorms.

“Helaman (Halls) was not cheap. … I mean it was pricey, but I think the student life benefits you got from it were worth it,” McClurg said.

Another aspect of this perceived luxury is also the novelty of newness, according to McClurg.

“I don’t really look at it as the extra amenities as much as I do quality and upkeep care,” he said. “I think that’s what you’re really paying for as a student because some of the places that I’ve been in are just falling apart. The thing with the newer places that you’re paying for is that everything functions.”

Julie Franklin, director of residence life at BYU, agreed the idea of campus housing becoming more “upscale” is due mostly to the fact that anything newer also looks nicer, and as complexes adapt to changing times, they seem more luxurious.

Franklin explained the process of designing on-campus housing and how design teams strive to create spaces that meet the needs of students now and in the future, but this can be a difficult task.

Residents can work out in the 24-hour fitness room at The Village at South Campus. (Photo by Chris Bunker)
Residents can work out in the 24-hour fitness room at The Village at South Campus. (Photo by Chris Bunker)

“When Deseret Towers was designed, the number of electrical outlets per student met the needs of the residents. By the time our last residents lived in those buildings the three outlets per student was not adequate,” Franklin said.

Deseret Towers, built in 1965, was capable of housing more than 2,000 students before the complex was demolished in 2008.

Although BYU strives to provide housing contemporary with students’ current needs, Franklin mentioned that BYU on-campus housing is quite affordable, especially when compared with other universities.

“BYU compares prices for on-campus housing with a number of schools. Our rates fall on the lower end in that comparison,” Franklin said.

Melissa Chalk, a nursing student at Elmira College in upstate New York, is one example of how housing prices can vary across the country.

“My first year I lived in an off-campus apartment and payed $725 a month, and I pay $900 every month for my apartment now,” Chalk said.

Her first apartment included a pool, gym and even a library for residents to use. Chalk has noticed that housing has become more luxurious even since she started school in 2010.

“I think student housing is definitely becoming much nicer,” she said. “Many dorms are turning into suites that look like apartments.”

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