Can Student Digs Inspire a Solution To The UK’s Lack Of Housing?

If you’re living in ‘student digs’ you may be bemused that student style residences have been suggested as a possible answer to the demand for more accommodation, especially in London and other major UK cities.

They are, of course, referring to the newer style of purpose built developments springing up in university cities and towns throughout the UK. Indeed, as well as developers investing in the student accommodation market, many universities have capitalised on the investment potential of stylish new student residences. These are a great improvement on the out-dated ‘digs’ that housed earlier generations of students – places that could be too hot in summer, too cold in winter, full of draughts and most importantly very noisy and cramped as well as having plumbing that had seen better days!

The option to live in a brand spanking new development offering studios for one or two occupants or hub units with, say, 4-6 individual en-suite bedrooms sharing a kitchen and living space is very appealing. Some also offer community facilities such as cafes, workspaces and services including concierges. But, as always, the challenge is the cost and most of these new developments come with what can be an eye watering price tag plus, in many instances, a commitment to a fixed period contract.

These downsides were what prompted a backlash earlier this year, as reported in the Guardian, when the judges for Property Week’s inaugural Student Accommodation awards refused to honour any of the entrants lamenting the replacement of affordable digs by slicker, supposedly more stylish and much more expensive developments : https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/oct/25/angry-student-judges-refuse-to-pick-winner-of-accommodation-awards.

It may not, however, be just the costs or the commitment that are putting some students off these new residences; some may simply want to live apart from their fellow students, especially if they prefer a quieter lifestyle which may be elusive in a typical student block or, indeed, in a flat-share.

So will this style work for professionals, young entrepreneurs and their like? When you leave university would you want to move into a residence reminiscent of your student days?

What may surprise you is that it is not the first time such developments have been built to accommodate working people. In the early 20th Century communal residences were commonly a first place to live for those moving to cities for work and, indeed, some continue to provide affordable accommodation today, whilst others have morphed into hostels. It can be an easy way to get used to working life in a new city especially if paying an inclusive rate that covers meals too as some do.

Time will tell if investment in the newer ‘student style’ developments for professionals will pay off, but there is no doubt they add to the range of accommodation options in cities, especially for younger people post university.

Author: Sara Ives of Vincent House, a traditional residence in Notting Hill Gate, London W2 which offers great value rates and flexible length of stay with breakfast and dinner included for mature/postgraduate students, academics and professionals.

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Student Wire Editor. First Year PR and Journalism student in Leeds. Big lover of tea and travelling.

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