Photographer:Fotograaf: archive Nils Kok
An often-heard complaint in Maastricht is that the cost of student housing has increased a lot over the past years. Indeed, if you take the snazzy rooms at the Student Hotel as an example, it seems like finding an affordable place to live in Maastricht is something that is a thing of the past.
The topic of student housing is one of many debates – at the level of the city, the university, and within student circles. Are students too concentrated in certain areas? Is there a shortage, are prices too high? It all depends on the view, and often on the opinion of the stakeholder involved. So, I decided to let the data do the talking.
In a recent MSc thesis, I worked with graduate Kevin Ewalds, who analyzed data from Maastricht Housing, the main student housing agency that covers most of the student housing in Maastricht (except the Student Hotel, that is). In total, the database covers 15,000 student housing transactions, including everything you want to know about the rooms, apartments, and their locations (think: pets allowed, or not, for Master students only, etc).
In his analysis, Kevin first explains what matters most for student housing rents. First, of course, location location location. Each kilometer away from the ‘Central Student District’ (the core, inner-city area) reduces rents with about 6 per cent. The ‘Belgium discount’ is about 12 percent. Having a landlady reduces rents with 18 per cent. Bigger rooms rent for less per square meter (keep them small!) and places that allow music have higher rents by 6 per cent. All useful stats when trying to understand what rent is fair for a given room at a given location.
Investigating the development of rents over time, the results offer a big surprise: correcting for inflation, the rent per square meter of the average student room has not increased over the past 5 years! Importantly, this analysis controls for the fact that student rooms may have become bigger, with more amenities such as a kitchen or designated bathroom. Of course, there will be exceptions, but overall, this is good news for students in Maastricht, and perhaps a reflection of demand and supply that are (surprisingly) balanced.
Nils Kok, Associate Professor at the School of Business and Economics