What if there’s a surplus in student housing?

Student Housing

It wasn’t too long ago – maybe in the late 1990’s – when many Canadian postsecondary institutions were concerned about student housing shortages off campus. Even today, there are many communities that struggle to meet the student housing demand.

When student housing demand exceeds the supply off-campus, family homes are converted into student accommodations, basements are used as one-or two-bedroom apartments and traditional tenants are pushed out of the surrounding postsecondary area creating a studentification phenomenon in many neighbourhoods.

This has been the common process in many communities that Canadian postsecondary institutions call home. But, what if the opposite is true? What if there’s a surplus in student accommodations within the community?

According to Rock Advisors – and based on accommodation inventories done- there has been 9,000 purpose-built student housing beds created in Waterloo, Ontario. These buildings strictly target student tenants and often target students looking for four- or five-bedroom apartments. Add these units into an already studentified neighbourhood, traditional rental units and on-campus accommodations and you might soon experience a surplus in student housing.

Some off-campus housing developers have done amazing things with student housing in Waterloo. Fitness centres, study rooms and the latest technology are found in new developments in Waterloo that meet the needs of many student tenants.  In Waterloo, as a possible surplus in student housing exists, these accommodations will be in desirable from many students.

As supply continues to increase, will Waterloo experience a reverse-studentification? Will neighbourhoods “gentrify” as a new near campus area develops? Or will the Northdale neighbourhood in Waterloo reurbanize as stated in the community improvement plan?

They all might produce similar results, but there’s defiantly a shift in the student housing market within Waterloo that will shape a student’s experience at the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and student at the Waterloo Conestoga College campus.


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