As tuition climbs and the economy tumbles, students are increasingly migrating away from campus in order to find better housing deals elsewhere.
A survey compiled by the UC Irvine Housing Office ranked the University Town Center among the most expensive apartment communities in the area. Although this has long been the case, students are now moving away from campus in larger numbers, as evidenced by the continuation of the ASUCI Newport Beach shuttle service, established two years ago.
The Newport Beach Shuttle was originally one of the first routes on the ASUCI shuttle schedule.
“It started with a van that ran back and forth to Balboa,” said Ryan Gripp, the general manager of ASUCI’s express shuttle. “It ran until 1999, but it was discontinued because there weren’t enough students that rode it. This is the second year we have had it back.”
The shuttle and the county transportation has been a vital resource for students like Lois Yong, a second-year Sociology major and foreign exchange student who recently came to study abroad at UCI.
“Even though we don’t have a car, getting to school isn’t a problem,” Yong said.
Like many UCI students, Yong was attracted to Parkwest because of its low rental rates. A Parkwest apartment with three bedrooms and two baths is $2310 without utilities or other costs.
“We chose Parkwest because it was the cheapest apartment we found. Before that, we considered other apartments such as Stanford Court, but we realized that their prices were too high.”
Rent for a Dartmouth Court apartment of the most common layout with two bedrooms and two baths is currently $2145 per month, while a two bedroom one bath apartment in Stanford Court is $1900 per month. Both figures do not include utilities or other costs.
Students like Yong have discovered that they do not have to forgo quality because of budget constraints.
“It exceeded our expectation,” Yong said. “Since it was cheaper, we thought it might not be as nice as the other apartments. We were pleasantly surprised.”
Other students have decided to leave Irvine altogether. Vanessa Tam, a third-year business economics major, recently discovered that for the same price, she and her roommates could treat themselves to a more luxurious apartment. She recently moved to Newport North, a housing community in Newport Beach.
“The price range was the same as the apartments around school, but the quality was a little better,” Tam said.
Although she was a bit hesitant to leave the convenience of nearby campus housing, she decided that the OCTA and ASUCI buses provided her with adequate mobility.
“I can rely on either one,” Tam said. “Usually I take whichever one comes first. It’s nice to know that I have two options.”
Even though more students are leaving the UCI area, the apartments at University Town Center continue to have a steady number of renters. This is likely because of the net growth UCI has experienced during the past several years. The Irvine Company continues to rely on the convenience of the University Town Center apartments to attract new students each year.
“Our portfolio of apartment communities around UC Irvine is doing well for a number of reasons,” said Bill Rams of the Irvine Company. “The communities offer students tremendous value because of the outstanding locations, their pristine conditions, the amenities and the professionals who serve our residents.”
Although it is difficult to track the number of students versus non-students who live in these apartments, Rams said that “the trends remain relatively the same, in terms of traffic.”
Despite the economy’s continual struggle, Mike Crowley, an Irvine real estate agent who works for Century 21, reported that apartment rates should continue to decrease due to low interest rates and high affordability rates.