Key Student Housing Trends to Watch in School Year 2022-23
After finally completing a year with minimal disruption, things might… finally feel normal at colleges and universities this year. However, we still live in the new normal, and this is going to be the year that sets up the rest of the decade. Expect mega-trends to develop as developers and investors start planning around 2025 admissions drop-offs, usage changes among residents, and continuing supply chain issues.
But before we start looking at the strategic trends in an upcoming article, we’d today like to look at the time between turns—the 2022-23 school year—and discuss some of the things affecting the student housing world at large.
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Five Things to Watch in the Student Living World in 2022-23
From things becoming more normal to changing investments, the next year is going to be critical for student housing developers, property managers, and the like. Why? Because even if 2021 was “normal,” 2022 will be the first year that a whole lot of things fall back into place.
A Return to Normal?
As Spring 2021 began, the term “traditional college experience” started to re-emerge. Around February, universities started to look at a Fall 2021 return to normalcy. And for parents, students, educators, and administrators, those three words brought a lot of hope—and a bit of angst.
August 2021 hit, and things looked normal-ish. Occupancy rates for dorms and off-campus apartments returned. In-person learning percentages came back. But there were a lot of caveats. Vaccine mandates and weekly testing were the norm. And there was always a chance things fell back into chaos.
Luckily, even in the wake of variants, the year progressed with only a few hiccups. Weekly testing gave way to symptom-based testing. Masks went from mandatory to encouraged. By the end of the year, policies were relaxed.
Now, as Fall turn season progresses, 2022 is looking a lot more like 2019 than Fall 2020 or 21. And for both universities and housing providers, things are looking up.
Understandably, we’re not out of the woods just yet. At the time of writing, the Omicron variant has given way to B.A. 5. Considered the most transmissible variant so far, many are watching to see if severity drops alongside higher transmission.
A Strong Pipeline
Though new supply is down from its peak in 2014, developers continue to work on new student living spaces. Driven by new funding from an increasingly diverse base of investors, current and planned construction activities remain strong in 2022.
This according to Berkadia, whose analysis shows 109 properties currently under construction and 42 more in various stages of planning/permitting nationwide. But not every region is finding the same level of investment.
In fact, nearly half of the 61,391 beds currently under construction will be coming to southeastern schools. Likely the result of less stringent lockdown measures, schools in this region saw smaller drops in admissions.
- Southeastern Region: 43 properties, 25,775 beds.
- West Coast: 18 properties, 8,992 beds.
- Midwest: 17 properties, 8,222 beds.
- Northeast: 16 properties, 8,400 beds.
- Texas and Oklahoma: 10 properties, 7,383 beds.
- Rocky Mountain: 5 properties, 2,619 beds.
However, as things get back to normal, student housing development plans look like they will come back into balance in coming years.
And though the Southeast will remain a popular area of investment, construction in the Midwest is coming back—facilities representing 9,334 beds break ground this year, according to RealPage.
A Refocus on Fundamentals by Developers & Property Managers
As things get back to normal, occupancy rate drivers will return to a traditional supply-and demand model. This according to Asset Living, means that developers and leaders will need to worry less about unknowns, and use meaningful metrics:
“Now that the pandemic is in the rearview mirror, supply and demand have become the primary influence on occupancy rates. In turn, variables like enrollment trends, on-campus living requirements, the pipeline of new beds, and university dorm beds help determine which university markets are improving and which ones are still struggling to recover from the pandemic.”
New Expectations from Residents
The past couple years changed the way that we lived. Same goes for the world of student housing. Recent trends have pointed toward changing expectations, with mega-amenities and student cities giving way to outdoor spaces, well-equipped study rooms, and more focus on in-room quality.
2022-23 is going to be the year that should drive new construction in the new normal. It’s likely that your new residents will have different expectations and use rooms and common spaces differently now that they can—so pay attention.
Continued Stress on Supply Chains
Though the fall turn season may be coming to a close, management companies can’t ignore the challenges this year presented—because next year is probably going to be pretty tough too.
And it wasn’t just on the manufacturing side. It was the entire system—all the way down to the last mile. From unexpected shutdowns as a result of China’s zero-COVID policies to our shipping crisis to the ports to the lack of qualified laborers to finish renovations, things were challenging.
So, for student housing property managers, developers, and the like, it’s important to remember the challenges and plan 2023 accordingly.
Whether that means ordering earlier, shortening your supply chain, or seeking out a manufacturer with international partnerships beyond just China, it’s more important than ever to consider who you work with to furnish your space.
Custom Student Housing Furniture by Morgan Li
When it’s gotta be done the right way, on-time and on-budget, look no further than the team at Morgan Li. With 80 years of experience transforming spaces for clients, we know what it takes to get the job done. By combining half a million square feet in domestic production space with millions more overseas, we have the skill and scale to deliver on your exact specs.
Pair this custom manufacturing expertise with our extensive distribution skills, inventory management, and installation partnerships, and you can rest easy knowing that your hospitality-grade furniture is ready for move-in.
That’s why more and more student living communities trust us to transform their spaces—because we’re pretty damn good at it. With completed projects in Champaign-Urbana, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia and more on the way, we’re quickly becoming one of the most trusted names in student housing furniture.