“Luxury student digs” sounds like a bit of an oxymoron, right? You hear the word ‘digs’ and conjure up the images of mildew-ridden showers, toxic wasteland kitchens and paper thin walls.
Indeed, if you ask your parents what their uni halls were like, you’ll probably receive descriptions of the same kind. Now though, the small, shared spaces we’ve come to expect of student properties are on the decline, and demand for high-end rooms and services are taking over. But why, when we’re constantly told that finance-related student stress is at an all time high, are university students opting to spend their loans on luxury rooms?
iQ Student Accommodation and Unite Students are two of the most frequented private accommodation firms at the minute. They offer what students may consider the more ‘high end’ of halls, at more expense than booking through a university.
But what do you get for more money?
Well (generally) it’s a fully furnished, modern, clean and Instagram-worthy room. Normally these will be with a double bed, and an en suite. An en suite! Something our parents’ student generation could only dream of. So, you get your privacy and comfort, as well as walls that aren’t paper thin either. If you choose this basic en suite room, you’ll normally be sharing a kitchen/living space instead of a bathroom. You’ll get a large modern fridge freezer, oven, microwave, kettle and basically everything else you may need for living comfortably. This may seem like the bare minimum needed to function, but a fair few digs don’t even supply a microwave or toaster!
I currently live in a Unite Students property. I chose here because of the additional lifestyle benefits that come with the property, as well as the flat itself. These include a fortnightly kitchen clean, 24/7 security (makes you feel a lot more at ease in a new city, particularly in first year), a free on site gym, games rooms, and furnished communal areas. This all comes at the price of around £140 a week. In Huddersfield, a gold studio at an iQ property starts at £190 a week. A Holloway Road platinum studio in London provided by Chapter costs up to £380. One of iQ properties in Manchester even boasts a bowling alley!
So, why do cash-strapped students keep choosing such pricey flats?
Well, an Office for National Statistics paper likened today’s habits of 18 year-olds to the same of those in the year 2000. Demand for alcohol-fueled nights is on the decline. This is because a night out is either ‘too expensive’, or students would rather not wake up with a hangover. Some put it down to having to much work to do, whilst others are happy simply having a night in watching a TV series. This means that, since more time is spent in student bedrooms and halls, the demand for them to be high quality is on the rise. Money and time spent in gyms and sports groups has risen too. To be honest, if you’ve had a long evening at the gym the last thing you want when you’re exhausted is to dread returning to an awful quality halls of residence.
It does work out logically though. If students are willing to spend more on a flat, they’ll feel more at home, may study better in the room, enjoy their own space as well as the communal ones, and still enjoy a night out maybe once a week. I guess there really is nothing wrong with having high standards.