Many BYU students are purchasing gifts for their loved ones with the holidays fast approaching. Some couples may even be purchasing a ring.
Approximately 25% of the BYU student body is married. Finding family housing as a student and on a student budget in Provo has proved to be difficult over the past few years.
Matthew and Lauren Felker married in June 2023. They have already found themselves in their third apartment as a married couple because of the struggles of finding affordable housing in Provo.
“By the time that we needed to move, we hadn’t been accepted to BYU on campus housing so we moved,” Felker said.
The Felker’s moved into a basement apartment in American Fork, approximately 15 miles from campus. While they were happy to have a place to live, driving to campus every day posed some struggles.
“It’s 30 minutes there and 30 minutes back so we have been doing that commute every day since the semester started, which has been kind of crazy,” Felker said.
With apartment prices soaring and intense competition for leases, some students find themselves hopping between family members’ homes until they can find a place to live.
Junior Rachel James said she and her husband moved into multiple family members’ basements after they got married. Shuffling their possessions between different garages, they eventually ended up living in the apartment her brother had just moved out of with his wife.
“We decided we wanted to get married in the beginning of the year, for three or four months we were looking before we took this place,” James said.
Many couples try as hard as possible not to move once they have signed on a place, for fear they will not be able to find a new home.
“We are definitely going to stay here until we have to move,” she said.
The continual turnover in Provo’s housing market poses challenges not only for the students moving. Bishop David Madrian, the leader of a local married student congregation, says it can be challenging to try and get to know churchgoers with such a constant flow of people.
“It is a huge challenge. It is hard for me as a bishop to remember people’s names even, and I feel badly,” Madrian said.
Madrian said he worries about members of the congregation and tries to get to know all of them, however, the constant influx of new people makes it feel like an impossible task to form lasting connections.
“As a bishop, I feel a responsibility for them to come here and feel they are known and feel people care about them. And when I can’t even keep track of their names … I always worry,” Madrian said.
Being unable to connect with neighbors and fellow church members can put even more strain on the lives of newlyweds.
According to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, a person would need to work 115 hours each week to afford a one-bedroom apartment in the city of Provo while being paid minimum wage.