Accommodation choices: what matters most to student tenants

student property

Promoting properties to students can be complicated. With so many accommodation options open to prospective tenants, how can you be sure that your advert will stand out and capture their interest?

In March, our research team surveyed students about their accommodation plans and preferences. TSR Insight’s Navigating Changing Options surveys track key stages in the student journey, giving insights into student behaviour, challenges and decision-making. Participants included:

  • 271 current undergraduate and postgraduate students (living away from home)
  • 561 prospective 2022 and 2023 undergraduates (planning to live away from home)

The majority of current students (living away) are planning to move

Overall, 71% of respondents who are already at university are planning to move to different accommodation in 2022/23, and a further 7% are not sure.

Those who arranged their accommodation privately this year are less likely to relocate: just over half (55%) plan to move and 8% are not sure.

Q. Are you likely to…? Stay in your current accommodation/ move to different accommodation/not sure yet
(Base: 207)

Less than half of respondents feel their current student accommodation is good value for money

Q. Do you feel like you are getting value for money from your accommodation?
(Base:263) *percentages rounded to nearest 1%

While the majority of first-year respondents (78%) had arranged their accommodation through their university,  84% of continuing/final year respondents (i.e. excluding first-years) had arranged their accommodation privately for the 2021/22 academic year.

Three-quarters of all respondents are planning to arrange their accommodation privately next year (2022/23).

Over half of first-year students (living away from home) are worried about accommodation costs

We asked students to share their top concerns, and two were related to accommodation:

Q. Which of the following, if any, are worrying you at the moment? Please select all that apply

First-years who were living away from home were more worried about the cost of accommodation than they were about making friends (42%). Their top concern was getting the grades they need (70%).

So, what do students want from their accommodation?

We asked current and prospective students what would influence their accommodation choice.

The top ten factors for each cohort

Q. Which of the following factors have influenced / will influence your choice of accommodation for next year? Please select all that apply?
(Base:207 current students; Base: 553 prospective undergraduates 2022/2023 entry)

Affordability is the top priority for current and prospective students. However, prospective undergraduates care more about cleanliness, accommodation size and the type of rooms available than current students.

Another significant factor for prospective students was the chance to see accommodation at an open event (35%).

Respondents also shared what their ideal accommodation would be like

Q. What one word describes your ideal student accommodation?

These word clouds show the most common responses from current students and prospective undergraduates respectively:

ideal student accommodation

For both groups, it was important for properties to be clean, modern and comfortable. However current students prioritised price, while prospective students focused more on space and their social lives.

Current students:

  • clean (13%)
  • cheap (8%)
  • modern (8%)
  • comfortable (6%)
  • affordable (5%)

Prospective 2022/23 students:

  • comfortable (13%)
  • clean (12%)
  • modern (6%)
  • spacious (6%)
  • social (4%)

There’s an important link between accommodation and university choice

For university applicants who are planning to live away from home, accommodation is a key part of their decision-making process.

Among prospective 2022/23 entry undergraduates:

  • 59% said the accommodation offered was important when choosing universities to apply to
  • Accommodation was ranked 4th most important when choosing a university (after course content, university atmosphere and student satisfaction) 
  • 77% wanted to see accommodation at on-campus open days
  • 51% wanted to see accommodation at virtual open days

Our top tips for what to do next

  1. Focus your messaging on students’ top priorities e.g. affordability/bills, proximity to university, cleanliness, transport links, on-site facilities, ensuites/bathrooms, social aspects
  2. Find out when your local university open and offer days are held – align your viewings with them to capture the attention of university applicants
  3. Build awareness and deepen engagement with prospective students – accommodation is a key factor they are considering when they are choosing between universities, so plan your campaigns around the student cycle

The Student Room is the UK’s biggest and best-loved online student platform. We can promote your properties to highly-targeted student audiences who are actively looking for accommodation. Check out our media pack.

Get in touch:
0800 999 3222

TSR Insight’s Navigating Changing Options Survey, Wave 7, March 2022