As Winter Quarter begins, so does the search for off-campus housing. Getting roommates in order, picking the perfect location and scoring the unit of your choosing can often seem like miracles when they come together. However, one detail can be the difference between realty heaven and housing hell: the price.
Over the last two years, Davis alumnus Matt Cooper has conducted a project in which he has recorded the prices of different apartment units within Davis. For the year 2013, he found the prices did increase when it came to singles and three-bedroom apartments.
Cooper’s data shows that the prices of one bedroom apartments rose 5.5 percent and three-bedroom apartments rose 7.5 percent. The price of two-bedroom apartments actually dropped 3 percent over the course of the year.
“The crazy thing to see is the fluctuation within the year,” Cooper said.
He found that it was cheaper to rent an apartment in Davis in December than it was in September, which he speculates is due to the University’s academic schedule. Cooper said that the prices can change as much as 20 percent between different months.
“It’s a supply and demand kind of thing,” Cooper said.
For one four-bedroom apartment unit at Sycamore Lane Garden Apartments, rent increased by $100 per month for next year. Prices also increased on all of the units at Sharps and Flats Apartment Homes located in South Davis. Ken Brown, their assistant community director, attributed the raise in rent to the increase in water prices brought on by the Woodland-Davis Surface Water Project, because the apartment includes water in the price of rent as does Sycamore Lane Garden Apartments.
Oakshade Commons Apartments, among others, have started charging their residents for water as a separate fee from their rent.
“Under new management, they raised rent by $600 a month and started charging $15 a month per person for water and garbage removal,” said Harman Grewal, a fourth-year exercise biology major. “It’s confusing because I don’t know if we had to pay this last year, or if new management is trying to make a larger profit.”
Fourth-year design major Hannah Feldman concurs with Cooper and said she believes that the rising prices have to do with supply and demand. She said she thinks that students are willing to pay the higher prices for prime real estate located comfortably close to campus.
Although the general price of housing in Davis is on the rise, affordable options are available. One option is to seek housing in one of the Solar Community Housing Association’s cooperative housing units which include the Baggins End Domes on the UC Davis campus.
The Solar Community Housing Association is a nonprofit organization that operates their housing in a cooperative structure, meaning that the residents both live and work together to do maintenance tasks in lieu of hiring professional help.
The average room in one of the co-op houses costs $375 per month. By comparison, Matt Cooper estimates from his data that a one bedroom apartment in Davis in 2013 would cost $895 per month.
“Creating community within our homes, and among our housing co-ops is a huge benefit that holds far more value for many of us, than just our relatively low rent,” said April Kamen, a coordinator for Solar Community Housing Association, in an email.
Although affordable options exist, as long as Davis has a steady flow of students that need roofs over their heads, the increases in rent will be inevitable.
“As long as UC Davis students are flooding the area, I see no reason why renters wouldn’t keep jacking up their prices to make more money,” Feldman said.