High Rental Costs Pressure Students into Rethinking

In recent years, student’s accommodation costs rose rapidly – especially in large cities. As an act of necessity, new concepts emerge.

Finding a new home isn't always easy - especially for students. (Source: CC License, stocksnap.io)

Rising rental costs in many places don’t slow down for students either: Especially in big German cities like Frankfurt, Berlin, Hamburg or Munich, rents are lately on the rise. This comes from the recent student price index, which is created on behalf of the German Economic Institute of Cologne (IW), based on data from real estate portals like immobilienscout24.de and wg-suche.de. Since 2010, an exceptional growth has been recorded especially in cities like Munich (+51 percent) and Berlin (+67 percent).

Despite the strong rise, Berlin still doesn’t pose the most expensive place of residence with its average price of 385 euro per month: Before that, there’s college towns like Göttingen or Münster (389 or 392 euro respectively), as well as big cities like Hamburg (427 euro), Cologne (431 euro), Frankfurt (499 euro) and Munich, which leads with an average of 634 euro per month.

By now, these high costs became an important factor for many new students when it comes to the choice of the study location, says the head of the study, Michael Voigtländer. His approach is fairly simple: “We need to build more”. Even if a declining price development cannot be expected, new buildings would at least “hamper” the price increase.

Enter the concept of “smartments”: These so-called mini apartments emerge by the thousands right now as a reaction to the current situation. Similar to regular student residences, students can rent a small flat within an apartment house. On 20 square meters, they obtain a fully furnished flat with a bed, kitchen corner, bathroom and desk. Several built-in wardrobes and shelves function as storage spaces.

Since rental costs range high between 400 and 500 euro, property developers justify their offer not only with the thorough furniture (as well as including all additional costs like power, heating & internet), but also with free caretaker services, laundry rooms and community spaces. The latter ones offer space for mutual cooking sessions or parties. That way, tenants always have the choice between networking with others or retreating to the privacy of their own room.

Especially foreign students consider these fully furnished and throughout organized, box-sized one-room flats a straightforward alternative to regular shared flats: According to a property developer, a whole third of 3,000 inhabitants in such a building came abroad from Europe or North America. So even if these smartments can’t solely relax the current price situation on the housing market – they indeed create new living space.

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