THE CHANTICLEER

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THE CHANTICLEER

THE CHANTICLEER

Raising rent at what cost

Construction+being+done+on+the+clubhouse+at+The+Arch.+
Keller Goldstein
Construction being done on the clubhouse at The Arch.

Rent prices for college students are on the rise nationwide, and the tide of inflation is making its way through Conway.

 

Coastal Carolina University ranks No. 10 for the most off-campus student housing units relative to enrollment in the nation, according to a market report by RealPage Analytics. Despite this, the University has been forced to adopt creative solutions to housing overflow due to increasing enrollment numbers.

 

After their sophomore year, students can opt to live in private, off-campus housing, as stated in University Policy STUD-336.

 

Some students choose to remain in University Housing because it can be paid for with financial aid and includes utilities, but securing a spot is difficult with growing class numbers. Excluding utilities, a number of private apartments are less expensive than rooms in University Place on a month-to-month basis, but that may no longer be the case if rents continue to rise.

 

Walk2CampusHoldings, LLC recently bought two existing apartment complexes, The Arch and The Ascent, and raised their rents. These acquisitions make four properties the corporation owns around campus out of nine total student-specific apartments available.

 

The company’s Chief Operating Officer Brad Hastings told The Chanticleer that the company is focused on serving their current customers and that future developments are not being

considered.

 

What has changed?

One of the apartment complexes, renamed The Arch, is in need of updates according to some students. Junior graphic design major Will Putney moved to The Arch from a luxury apartment at The Pier at the beginning of the fall 2023 semester.

 

“[The Arch] could have a few nicer things. The Pier, when I lived at there, it was more expensive, but you definitely got the bang for your buck,” Putney said.

 

Before rents were raised in September, minor improvements to the signage and paint were made. However, these cosmetic alterations are not directly beneficial to students.

 

“This place could use a little TLC,” Putney said. “There’s a lot of outdated appliances such as, you know, shower heads, creaky fans and stuff like that.”

 

Putney also mentioned that when he first moved in, his room was infested with bed bugs. He and his roommates were placed in a hotel by the company until the issue was resolved.

 

Other improvements have been slowly implemented like replacing damaged furniture and adding a trash valet service. The Arch is now undergoing a major construction project on its amenities clubhouse, which is slated for completion in March.

 

Senior art studio major Cebastian Thompson expressed that there is still much to be desired.

 

“I don’t have a luxury home, like there’s a lot of flaws with the apartments,” Thompson said. “There’s things breaking all the time. We had a lot of infestations, a lot of the entire complex was dealing with flea infestations and stuff.”

 

Senior business major Lucas Spielmann has found the Walk2Campus acquisition to be beneficial.

 

Spielmann has lived in what is now The Ascent since August of 2019. Throughout his time there, the building has changed ownership several times. Spielmann said the first management company did not care about residents, maintenance requests were not answered, and it seemed like the company was running out of money.

 

“Five years ago when I first moved in, this place was pretty much a shithole,” Spielmann said.

 

After Walk2Campus bought the property, Spielmann acknowledged the efforts to turn the place around. Walk2Campus has worked to clean up the building and make the complex safe and comfortable.

 

“The rent has increased quite a bit, but I will say the quality of living here, I definitely think it’s increased, probably tenfold,” he said.

 

How are students affected financially? 

While everyone in off-campus housing must pay their rent, not every student is affected the same way. Some students can rely on total or partial financial support from their families, some earn enough to afford the payments, and others struggle to make ends meet. Increasing rent prices force stricter budgets and longer working hours for students who pay for housing on their own.

 

Thompson said she is struggling because it is difficult to balance everything required of her to live, and she works on campus for the allotted 20 hours a week. For her, each month is its own struggle. The basic requirements of living, from paying rent to affording food, can be stressful. Thompson has been a resident at The Arch since August of 2022. She initially paid $550 for rent, with an additional $50 for utilities. Her rent was increased by $100 after one year, and Thompson said she is frustrated to say the least.

 

“It’s not like I’m not already working hard. I already have the loans, I already have the job like, you know, what’s the next step?” she asked.

 

Like Thompson, sophomore business major Brooke Weisgerber is also struggling to navigate her way through financial strain.

 

Weisgerber works roughly 25 hours a week as a waitress, but money is often inconsistent. She is moving into a two-bedroom apartment at The Ascent next August, where she will pay $875 plus utilities.

 

Thompson and Weisgerber both noted that grocery shopping has become increasingly difficult. Thompson lamented that she must strictly stick to her budget to ensure she has enough food to get through a week. Small indulgences, like a coffee or doing activities with friends, are now uncommon luxuries.

 

“I would say just regular life that I’ve been indulging in the last couple years, like going out to eat all the time with my friends and everything like that,” Weisgerber said, “it has impacted that part [of] my social life.”

 

Spielmann has a positive outlook on his situation. He works two jobs for about 50 hours a week. Though Spielmann is also a student, he finds that this schedule works for him.

 

Spielmann said he got lucky with his job opportunities and is grateful for the financial stability they offer. While some students can earn enough to support themselves, this is not the case for everyone.

 

However, Putney said he is not having money troubles.

 

“My parents have been really helpful with that,” Putney said.

 

Why increase rates?

 

Walk2Campus is aware of the inflated cost of living students are facing. Hastings attributes this as part of the reason why rates are increasing. An undersaturated job market also forced the company to raise employee wages, contributing to higher operating costs

 

“From your Starbucks to your Chipotle, everything is, you know, kind of getting a little bit more expensive to purchase,” Hastings said. “There was a period of time, and hopefully we’re maybe coming out of it a little bit, where you had to beg people just to work, right? And people weren’t working for the wages they once worked for and rightfully so. So what do owners have to do, they have to turn around and pay people more.”

 

Comparing rates side-by-side, Walk2Campus properties are on par with other student apartments at Coastal, even with the increased rates. That choice was intentional.

 

Yvonne Williams, an office and leasing assistant at The Arch, explained how rates are chosen.

 

“Looking at [S.C.] 544, you have all these properties that are just lined up with each other. You don’t want to be at the lowest and you don’t want to be at the highest, you want to be compatible and comparable,” Williams said.

 

Because of supply and demand, rents are unlikely to go down anytime soon. If Coastal continues its pattern of accepting record class numbers, it’s a good outlook for businesses.

 

Hastings recalled that rates had been lowered in 2014 because there were more apartments than students, but demand is much higher today.

 

“There’s a steady stream of potential customers because people will continue to go to college,” Hastings said. That may not be the case, if students like Thompson can no longer afford it.

 

“It’s going to make it more challenging for people like me to attend school,” Thompson said. “If this keeps increasing, it will become an opportunity for a select few.”

 

Shown rates reflect highest four-bedroom option, excluding Campus Walk with only two-bedroom options. Data sourced from offcampusliving.coastal.edu. Infographic by Frances Ludwig (Frances Ludwig)
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About the Contributors
Frances Ludwig, Art Director
Hi, I’m Frances!  I’m currently a senior BFA art and art history student. I’ve lived everywhere from military bases, the suburbs, to Middle of Nowhere, South Carolina. I enjoy live music, nature walks, and my cat, Tofu. I’m currently building an art movement that I want to continue growing once I graduate. I’m excited to bring my creative vision to The Chanticleer! 
Keller Goldstein, Photographer
Hey there,  I’m Keller and I am beyond stoked to be the official photographer for The Chanticleer I am from Saint Louis, Missouri, and studying to get my BFA in theatre arts with a concentration in physical theatre here at CCU.   Aside from studying Physical Theatre, I am passionate about writing and producing music, directing, writing plays, traveling, film and cinematography, and of course, photography!    Although I got my start in concert, editorial, and conceptual photography, I have absolutely loved exploring the world of photojournalism this past semester and I look forward to showing you our school through my lens!

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