A couple of weeks back I pushed out a post on how the student housing market here in Waterloo has been faring in the midst of an unprecedented past 12 months. The full article is available for review here, but the Coles Notes version is that we’ve been performing much better than was expected initially. Even in the worst of the pandemic, more university students have opted to remain in their off-campus digs than anyone would have thought probable.

I’ve covered this phenomenon in the past and so won’t go into too much detail here, but I do believe people have underestimated the individual desire of young people to launch independent lives of their own away from home – even if that means just living with roommates while attending classes virtually. Added to this is the fact that quality lodgings within a short walk to the universities can be hard to come by, and rentals are competitive. Students aren’t necessarily willing to sacrifice dibs on A-plus housing for the sake of one unusual year. And so, as vaccines continue to roll out and our universities are announcing plans to reopen in-person learning for the Fall 2021 term, the student housing market in Waterloo is continuing to be active.

According to both universities’ own projections, the total number of enrolled students anticipated to be in Waterloo by the end of 2021 exceeds 50,000 – over 40,000 of which include full-time students (close to 17,000 at WLU, and over 25,000 at UW. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, therefore, that rental rates for off-campus student housing are continuing to climb as we progress deeper into 2021. In speaking with my contacts at some of Waterloo’s largest student-oriented property management companies, occupancy as of mid-April is already well over 4/5th – and this is a full five months before the fall term gets underway. At this pace, we can easily expect occupancy approaching 95% by the time September rolls around. Of the remaining inventory yet to be leased, you’ll find that much of it lies outside of a 15-minute walk to campus. Any properties within easy walking distance for students are moving quickly.

Another point of concern for prospective investors over the past few years has been an influx of large, purpose-built inventory. But, as we’ve seen, enrollment has continued to pick up speed even in the middle of the pandemic, and this additional supply serves to meet market demand without stepping on the toes of smaller property owners and investors. Again, this is something we’ve explored in the past, but it tends to be a different kind of demographic who seeks off-campus accommodation in detached rooming houses and smaller multi-unit dwellings than those who look to brand new, luxury themed student condos. For many students, the experience of living with a handful of close roommates with a backyard and common spaces of their own is irreplaceable. For all of these reasons, the student market in Waterloo continues to be a good investment. If you have any questions or would like to simply chat about the state of our market, please reach out directly. I’m happy to help!

Join The Discussion

Compare listings