Blacksburg luxury apartments are popping up all over the place. Just recently opened this past fall, the Union Apartment Complex offers “luxury living moments away from Virginia Tech,” according to the Union Apartments YouTube channel. There are several other examples of complexes around Blacksburg such as the Park 37 apartment complex and the Vue Apartment complex. However, with the steady rise of rental costs and the increase of luxury complexes appearing in Blacksburg, these properties may not be the best solution for students.
It is undeniable that the luxury student housing industry is an extremely lucrative and an increasingly popular option for student residents who can afford it. These properties offer many amenities such as smart home features, fast internet speeds, in-unit appliances, surround sound speakers and more. According to a Bloomberg article, this industry is doing extremely well at attracting upper class parents who aim to provide a more secure community for their children.
In a 2021 Buffalo News article, “over the past 20 to 30 years, student housing has increasingly become one of the most attractive areas of real estate development and investment, with tens of billions of dollars poured into development and acquisition of such properties nationwide.”
Virginia Tech is no exception to this trend in privatized luxury student housing. However, the rise of luxury student complexes are hindering options for students seeking affordable living apartments.
Josh Long, a junior studying environmental conservation and society, shares that rising rental costs were the main reason for him staying with his parents and commuting to school.
“(Real estate companies) should be focusing on building more affordable housing,” Long said.
This phenomenon is also arguably causing an ever-growing rift between socioeconomic classes. In a Hechinger Report article, Andrew Ryder, an assistant professor of higher education at the University of North Carolina, argues that the rise in luxury student living is actually detrimental to the society of students colleges aim to be.
“We’re re-creating socially stratified communities on campus instead of giving students opportunities to live among people from different walks of life,” Ryder said.
Even though Virginia Tech does not predominantly struggle with stratified communities because Blacksburg is a small college town where everyone is bound to interact, there are still negative effects of luxury complexes taking over land in Blacksburg. One effect students looking for budget friendly options are facing is the increasingly distanced and/or old complexes they are relegated to.
Giridhar Ganta, a junior studying computer science, expresses his view on students looking for budget-friendly housing options.
“I think unintentionally, there is a zoning effect in the rental market causing budget students to be stuck to a select few more budget-friendly apartments,” Ganta said.
These cheaper options usually lie further and further from Blacksburg as more luxury student housing is built close to campus, causing Christiansburg rental costs to rise as well. This leads to issues of transportation as budget-friendly options are being pushed toward Christiansburg.
The rise of pricier student apartments are a welcome addition to students and parents that can afford them, as they offer a more comfortable lifestyle. It is undeniable that luxury student housing is a rising industry, as more middle to upper class families look to these options as well. However, due to possible stratification of communities and budget-friendly options being pushed out of the city, these luxury complexes may do more harm than good.