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How to create the student accommodation lifestyle that they really want

Students socialising in the kitchen to their student accommodation

Student accommodation has been redefined lately. UCAS talks of an evolution which reflects individuals’ changing requirements and while cleanliness is always of absolute importance, it’s now more about offering a lifestyle

It’s that time of year again, where graduating students move out of their shared accommodation and the next intake starts trickling in over the summer holidays. It might be hard to believe (if you recall The Young Ones), but the cleanliness of a property can significantly influence student well-being and which accommodation they choose in the first place. For landlords, managing agents and facilities teams, ensuring halls and houses are inviting has never been so important.  

The number of students is set to explode. In 2022, there were 2.2 million full-time students in the UK. UCAS reported 760k university applications and it’s expected that by 2030, they’ll receive over one million. That puts a lot of pressure on the accommodation sector. Not only due to demand, but to a change in discernment which is impacting choice.

It’s not the 1990s…

Many of us will have horror stories relating to student living. If it’s not an anti-social housemate, then it might be damp in the bathroom or slug trails across the lounge carpet (or was that just my experience?). Not very nice and certainly not a nurturing, healthy environment. However, recent stories in the media have highlighted the dangers of mould, which means that today’s students are aware and less tolerant of unacceptable conditions. More astute perhaps than previous generations, they take the state of a building into consideration before putting down a deposit.  

What’s more, requirements have changed over the years. With greater-than-ever numbers of global students on campus, needs have become more diverse and spaces should reflect that. Additionally, according to UCAS, an increase in mental health declarations means that accommodation must promote well-being. Calling it the ‘evolution’ of student housing, UCAS says: “Changing times bring about new preferences and requirements. With a growing emphasis on sustainability, community, and inclusivity, student housing must embody these values”. 

How to give students what they want

It might seem like a huge ask from the owners and managers, but to ensure occupancy, it’s crucial to give young people what they want. Key to this is to offer a ‘lifestyle’ - bear in mind that this generation of students have grown up consuming content that shares aspirations and promotes ideals, demonstrating the effect products and services have on the individual experience - and many will research or read reviews before committing. According to Knight Frank research, it’s not simply about comfort, rather ‘the focus will be on the degree to which accommodation choice enhances and improves outcomes for students’. With that in mind, here are a few tips on achieving that:  

1. Clean, clean and clean! 

Yes, we would say that, but the first and most obvious action is to ensure the accommodation is clean. End-of-tenancy services can remove any discarded possessions or old furniture, including mattresses and sofas, which sometimes require official licensing due to the chemical content within. Follow this with a top-to-bottom deep clean and it’ll seem as if no one ever lived there before. Emergency cleans can be used should an incident occur (especially useful when your cleaning partner of choice operates 24/7/365). Students aren’t generally renowned for being tidy, so regular cleaning (built into the rental costs) is a simple way to keep student flats and houses hygienic - and the knowledge that they won’t need to do too much domestic drudgery might sway a few house-hunters.

A student carrying a box labelled 'kitchen' into their new accomodation

2. Sustainable features

Students want their housing to reflect their aspirations and values, which includes green-living. Replacing inefficient old boilers or windows, though costly, could win over some rent-paying parents. Planting easy-to-maintain fruit and vegetables in the garden (where appropriate) could be viewed favourably, cutting shopping bills too. Proof of a commitment to cutting environmental impact is important to a lot of today’s students. 

3. Create a nurturing space 

While this would vary depending on the type of accommodation, ensuring the buildings and associated amenities are good quality and inviting is a given. Shared spaces need to be welcoming and create a sense of community. Calm areas that promote rest and enable effective study are a must. Clean windows that allow as much natural light as possible are considered hugely important. In fact, in the Knight Frank/UCAS survey, the top three reasons given by students for moving into private accommodation were: 1) Condition of the room  2) Able to study more effectively and 3) Overall cleanliness. It’s vital to remember that most young people haven’t lived away from home before; it’s a huge, sometimes scary change. A nurturing space can allay anxieties.  

4. Digitalise 

The growth of remote learning and video tutorials means that it’s important to provide a reliable internet connection, one that can cope with streaming in one room, Googling in another and Face Timing with the family back home, all at the same time. Students surveyed by Frank Knight / UCAS said they’d be willing to pay a premium for fast Wi-Fi, so opting for a superior internet package will make your property more attractive.

5. Value for money

It goes without saying that students want to feel they are receiving a good and fair deal. According to the survey, the biggest influencing factors on where to live were: cost, value for money and cleanliness, in that order. Presenting a good quality room which meets their needs, both physically and psychologically, will be viewed as good value and therefore in higher demand.   

Accommodation forms a huge part of the student experience, be it a place for socialising or for enhancing educational outcomes. Students not only want a clean bedroom & communal spaces, but they want to feel they’ve been seen and heard, so offering them what they would like could really increase your chances of optimal tenancy with students who care about their living environment and would treat it well. Keeping it clean is just the start…

If you’d like to explore REACT’s student accommodation cleaning services, which include end-of-tenancy, decontamination (you never know), deep clean and emergencies, please get in touch. We’d love to share some testimonials and show you how our team could help your building/s become a top choice for the next intake.


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