The increase in Elon University’s student body may be the cause of the increase in prices for surrounding off-campus apartments.
“The student market is a very volatile one,” said Jon Lowder, executive director of Piedmont Triad Apartment Association (PTAA). “So many different things affect it — graduation, school housing policies and, most significantly, larger student bodies.”
While the increase in rent prices is not guaranteed, Elon is expecting to continue to grow in class sizes.
According to the Enrollment Comparison Report on the Office of the University Registrar page, Elon’s fall and spring full-time enrollment has been on a steady incline since the 1991-1992 school year.
On campus, this growth has already been planned for — more students means more housing is necessary. A brand new neighborhood has been under construction for the last several months and is expected to open fall 2018. It will consist of three buildings and 309 double rooms located at the former site of East Gym and Historic Neighborhood parking lot.
Construction of living options has not just been happening within Elon’s campus. According to the Times-News, Alamance County is currently planning the construction of hundreds of new units; a strategy that has caused the Alamance County apartment market to surpass those of Guilford and Forsyth County.
Alamance County’s new housing options has triggered an increase in rent prices. According to the PTAA, the average rent in Alamance County now stands at $834, which shows a 7.7 percent increase in prices since 2016.
The rent increase for off-campus housing in Alamance County is a situation making some Elon students nervous about their future costs.
“The main reason I wanted to live off campus was because it was cheaper,” said Abhinav Nitesh, a resident of Oak Hill Village. “If Alamance County’s rent goes up and that makes our rent go up, at some point it might eventually become cheaper to just live on campus.”
The possibility of a rent increase for off-campus housing is not guaranteed, but changes are possible.
“We want to make sure that we are keeping up with the competition around us, and the market is always making us make changes,” said Tara Gilbert, Property Manager for Oak Hill Village and several units in Sheridan Place.
While the thought of higher rent is worrisome, Gilbert reassures students both living off campus and thinking about living off campus that they will be taken care of.
“We believe in taking care of all of our students living off campus,” Gilbert said. “We will not overcharge anyone, based on what someone else in Alamance County is charging.”
With the year only just starting, future housing is not the largest concern for many of the students at Elon, but Lowder believes the earlier a student begins the search, the more likely they will get an apartment they are happy with.
“Start the search early, don’t wait till the last minute,” Lowder said. “Be flexible about your search and don’t be afraid to look around, keep your eyes peeled for new opportunities.”