With University of Nevada, Reno residence halls 121 percent over capacity, many returning UNR students are being forced to find off-campus housing. Meanwhile, the Biggest Little City continues to see apartment rent prices skyrocket.
A report by the apartment search company Abodo ranked Reno as one of the three U.S. cities that saw the largest apartment rent increase from January to February. Reno ranked third in the study, just after Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Orlando, Florida.
This fall, UNR’s enrollment increase is buoyed by an unusually large amount of returning students. However, the university is only allowing 7 percent of these returning students to live in the on-campus residence halls. With few other options, UNR students must keep up with the rising costs of rental homes and apartments close to campus.
“I like how attending college is so encouraged to the point where they’re saying ‘go to college or you won’t end up happy,’ but then when it comes to paying rent, they talk down to students for creating a greater demand and raising the prices instead of the greedy landlords who will do whatever they can to get more money out of students,” said Daniel Molina, a sophomore at UNR.
The average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Reno rose to $749 in February, a 12.3 percent increase from January.
Costs of off-campus student apartments have increased significantly since just last fall as well. Today it costs from $714 to $749 to rent a two-bedroom apartment at The Republic, a student apartment complex only a mile away from the center of campus. Students who have lived there since last year say that their rent was raised almost $200 in some cases.
“The sad thing is that students don’t have a choice but to pay these high rents because we have to live close to campus and usually have to have furnished places,” said Kenzie Reed, a sophomore at UNR. “These places know they can get a lot of money from students who are pretty much forced to pay for it.”
The most recently constructed student apartment complex, Sterling Summit, charges students $740 for a two-bedroom apartment and $620 for a five-bedroom apartment.
According to Abodo, Reno’s increasing rent costs are keeping up with the national trend, as many cities are seeing a move towards more expensive rent.
Contrary to the nationwide trend, Las Vegas saw the second largest decline in apartment rent costs from January to February. The average rent in Las Vegas ended in February at about $1,000.
Although the Biggest Little City did see the third largest increase in rent prices in the January to February period, it still has some of the lowest rent nationwide. The average rent price over the same time period was $851 in Milwaukee and $1,024 in Orlando.
Researchers attribute Reno’s rising rent costs to low apartment availability and a high demand for apartments and homes in Reno.
“I hate paying the rent for these new expensive places, but I think the rent is increasing because Reno is changing from a grimy gambling town into a really hip college town,” said longtime Reno resident and senior at UNR, Kelsey Reyes.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the northern Nevada median income has decreased over the last two years, just as the region has begun to see rent prices increase. Economists have said that raising the minimum wage would help wages keep up with higher housing costs, but would not solve the problem of a lack of affordable housing.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel reported in February that the majority of millennial debt is in car and student loan payments. This debt prevents them from renting more expensive homes and apartments.
Last December, CoreLogic, a financial services firm, released a report that showed housing prices in Nevada are expected to increase another 6 percent over the next five years.
If this uphill trend continues, UNR students may need to prepare to pay a premium for close-to-campus housing.
Rachel Spacek can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.