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Davis, California

Friday, April 12, 2024

Student housing kinda sucks

Your student ID and all your savings, please


By ANDIE TARABZOONI — rmtarabzooni@ucdavis.edu 


When I was first deciding on a college at the ripe young age of 17, I had taken into account the fact that no matter where I went, I refused to live in a place similar to my sister’s $2,000 a month 300-square-foot apartment in Boston, Massachusetts. My top three school options were in three different locations: Boston, Los Angeles and — well, you guessed it — Davis. Yet despite me going for the relatively cheapest area cost-of-living wise, I still find myself in awe at the housing crisis in Davis. 

During my first year at Davis, I lived in student housing. There were many great memories, but my favorite has to be the amount of times they told me to live at The Green. Part of me considered it. But then I saw the $22,000 price tag that comes with a now nine-to-10 month lease and went, “Maybe not.” Nothing against The Green; it’s not them, it’s me. But I just feel a little deluded for trying to make myself feel like this is all normal. I’ve heard with financial aid it’s a lot more affordable — same with Orchard Park. But what if you don’t have access to that. What then? Accept the bargain of $2500 a month? Or try to work around student-based housing? 

I have scoured the Internet to see what the case is at other UCs… it’s really not looking great anywhere. Perhaps we aren’t the worst case, but God, does it get bad. Someone had recently told me that when they visited UCSB, the apartments were not only double the price they’d be in Davis but felt like shoe boxes. This is a prominently student-filled apartment complex so it seems like the market for students is worse than ever. When it comes to other schools like UCLA and UC Berkeley, I can only imagine how much you have to pay as someone trying to live there as a regular tenant, let alone a student. 

So, do students tend to pay more? I could not find any data to follow this up, so we’re using opinion and observation here. The first lease I signed at Davis required me to send over a lot of schooling-related documents since I didn’t have a social security number. But this was a similar protocol for places close to campus with jacked-up prices. Prove you’re a student, and you somehow end up paying $3k for a studio. But, that’s not necessarily the truth. Maybe they just want you to prove you’re a student to prove you need somewhere to live. But a lot of the time, I feel tempted to ask how much Davis residents pay for rent. Nonetheless, if you want more affordable housing it feels like a nightmare. 

One of my very good friends recently documented their experience trying to sign a lease in North Davis. They camped from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. the next morning to sign a lease. That feels horrid. For the reward of a lower rent, you spend a school day camping in the cold to not even be guaranteed a lease. Isn’t that kind of cruel? Why is housing in college towns so weird and twisted? I personally signed my lease via email, but I also never got to tour. So, you win some and you lose some. None of the housing for students in college towns seems to be worth it. 

For unfurnished, inaccessible and barely renovated apartments, I want to be paying with dimes. If I cannot guarantee my carbon monoxide alarm works, why are you making me pay you my entire paycheck? I guess my main question is why do we agree to pay so much for how little we get? I constantly get ads about how cheap it is to live in Thailand, and maybe I’ll take it up if rent goes up. What made landlords so evil? Why do you not want to give me my security deposit?

I think back to “The Perks of Being A Wallflower” in times like this — “We accept the love we think we deserve.” But instead, we accept the apartments we think we deserve. Maybe I’m nitpicking but what are we paying for in extra fees if maintenance doesn’t show up until we’ve moved out? Maybe the housing market is awful everywhere in the world, maybe everything is awful everywhere. Blame Reagan. But you really feel it in college towns. Finding affordable housing and housing that suits you shouldn’t be this difficult. Especially as your first time being a tenant. 

I suppose the argument stops being “University housing is awful” and becomes “housing is awful” pretty quickly, but I do think there has to be a study done somewhere about why housing is so expensive for students. I know why, but I need it to be factually proven for me. I just cannot grasp the idea that we’ve all accepted this. Can we get a student housing union? Or at least a rent discount? Or a full night’s sleep before leasing day? It’s important to find housing that’s equitable and suitable for you. 

All I can say at this point: don’t settle. There are plenty of fish in the sea. The first apartment you find won’t always be your favorite. Just make sure you’re making choices for yourself rather than just to get leasing “over with.” 


Written by: Andie Tarabzooni — rmtarabzooni@ucdavis.edu


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.


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