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Senses of Security - Student Preferences in Rental Housing

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Complete Story from J Turner Research September eNewsletter:

It turns out our sensibilities and preferences regarding rental housing wear off on our kids sooner than you think.

It’s back to school time, and like most of you have done in the past, or will do at some point in the future, I’m packing up the car and moving my son off to college this year. Incredibly great times are ahead for our college-aged kids: their minds are expanding, they’re absorbing knowledge, making new, life-long friends, and becoming motivated, interesting and totally unique adults. As their parents, we hope they have great professors, we remember the dining hall and hope they get at least a few decent, nutritional meals (pizza anyone?), and we wish all the best for our students as they embark on journeys to bright futures.

But most of all, we wish for their safety and security. Even though student housing has leapt forward, sometimes rivaling Class A market rate apartments in both design and amenities, the one community feature that continues to consistently wow us—especially when we’re co-signing leases for our kids—is the sense of safety and security.  

In fact, it’s the most important factor we consider when choosing student housing, according to Survey Says! Apartment Features, Amenities and Programs That Sell to Students and Parents, a survey of 69,000 students and 27,000 parents on their student housing preferences conducted this year by J Turner Research on behalf of the National Apartment Association. While kids are most focused on the cost of housing parents ranked security first (34 percent) and location/proximity to campus (29 percent) as more important than price (20 percent) when selecting an apartment community for their student.

Digging deeper into what security features were most important when shopping for an apartment, parents and students continued to show some difference in preferences, with parents considering controlled access entries to be just as important as location of community (both cited by 26 percent of respondents) and students showing a greater preference for community location (30 percent) over controlled access (17 percent). Security cameras, courtesy officers, and panic alarms however, all scored significantly lower among both parents and students.

The point is—despite all the laundry visits and pleas for extra spending money that are surely coming our way this Fall—we place a high value on our sense of security in housing, particularly the housing for our kids as they begin to quickly become independent renters. As it turns out, our concerns actually wear off on our kids sooner than you might imagine. As students matriculate out into the real world, their need for safety and security has suddenly become a more paramount part of their apartment search.

According to J Turner Research’s recent study of 41,303 apartment residents, 39 percent of which comprised the youngest 18-30 year-old Gen Y demographic, we continue to rate safety and security highly as market rate renters. The survey, What Do Residents Want: Trends in Resident Technology and Communication Preferences found we are interested in both community location and neighborhood information when we’re searching for apartments online.

Sure, our kids are going to continue to roll their eyes as we lecture about safety and security, but it’s encouraging to know that one day soon they’ll be having the same discussion with kids of their own. Until then, we’ll look forward to all of those laundry visits—according to Survey Says, over a third of both parents and students expect seven or more road trips back home in the upcoming school year.

A Thrilling Concept

Speaking of our kids and their prospects as eventual apartment renters, J Turner Research is proud to be a part of the exclusive Multifamily Executive Concept Community presentation Tuesday, October 9 at the Multifamily Executive Conference in Las Vegas, where we’ll join KTGY Group principal Rohit Anand and Avalon Bay senior vice president in a deep dive into the Gen Y renter demographic, what they want from an apartment communities, and how those preferences are informing the design, development and operation of today’s cutting-edge communities. Visit MFE for the official agenda and more information on the conference—we hope to see you there.