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Chico students vs. luxury apartments

Photo credit: Alex Coba

Recent trends in Chico have made luxury housing a hot commodity for students. The idea of bundling amenities and utilities such as furniture, TVs, electricity, Wi-Fi, water and laundry can sound better than having to worry about storage during breaks in school.

While these high-end apartments sound amazing, they have their drawbacks. Mainly, having expensive price tags that most students are unable to afford.

“The way they (Post on Nord) sold me, they went all in,” said a former resident of Post on Nord, Kehinde Olawuyi.

“They said ‘you get this, this, this, and when you think about it, you’re basically paying the same thing you’d be paying somewhere else.’ We ended getting put in a (special needs) apartment. None of us (have special needs), but we just said whatever. Things like our washer/dryer, the gates and other little things wouldn’t work. I say, do your research before and definitely don’t sign if you can’t afford it,” Olawuyi advised.

A six-room, six-person, four-bathroom apartment on the Post on Nord will run you around $600 a month on a 12-month lease per person. The most expensive one-person studio apartment will cost $1390 per month. In comparison, Campus Walk Cedar Flats and other luxury apartments go upward of $600 a month.

“I would say the average rent in Chico is anywhere from $400 to $800 a month depending on the amenities and proximity to campus and things like that,” said Dan Herbert, director of Off-Campus Student Services. “”It’s interesting, I talk to people in my work throughout the country and the new trend in student housing are these higher-end, fully-furnished apartments. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t thousands, literally, thousands of beds out there that are still the old fashioned, ‘four guys go to an apartment and they share the rent, and each gets a bedroom and their rent’s $400 a month.’”

A student with financial aid is allowed to, with proof of pending aid, delay payments on their rent until they received their aid. This also applies to onsite parking available for an additional monthly fee.

Additional amenities like onsite pools, parking structures, free printing, study rooms and gyms all come as standard with these luxury apartments. Gates and security are also put in place to assure those who lease with them are safe when in their homes.

“Last year, I had my car’s tires slashed and it was parked in the complex,” said current tenant of Post on Nord, Nicholas Morales. “Where it is supposed to be guaranteed safe and secure, which it wasn’t, they don’t have cameras in the parking lot so I couldn’t really do anything about it. They just said they’d keep an eye out and they sent an email out. They also raised the rent. For what I’m getting out of it I don’t feel like I’m getting enough in return; I feel like you’re paying more for the look.”

If you are working a minimum wage job at $12 an hour, part-time, before taxes you’d be making $960 a month. If you are going for a lower-end apartment at $600, you’d have less than $360 to spend on groceries, school supplies and entertainment purposes each month. That’s not even counting the $7,348 for tuition each year.

The average financial aid for incoming freshmen at Chico State is $13,923 per year. Subtract tuition and you are left with $6,575 to use on housing and everyday student life and -$25 if you subtract $600 dollars of rent for 12 months.

If we include financial aid, a $600 luxury apartment, tuition and a part-time job into the equation, a student is left with a total of $11,520 a year ($960) a month to live off of. If you include a more expensive apartment, taxes, phone bills, school supplies, car insurance and early loan payments it adds up to a whole lot of hassle for a new TV set to be in an apartment.

However, Herbert believes the cost of living in Chico is still very affordable.

“When you look at the cost of an education in California, the cost of housing is a component of that,” Herbert said.

“One of the nicer apartments that I can think of here in Chico is Gateway and Parkview. I was talking to the owner last fall and we were saying that if you rent a room at Gateway it is $450 a month. If you want to share that bedroom with another person it’s $600 or $650. Where else in the state of California can a person put a bed under a nice roof and a nice apartment with the kitchen and living room and all the amenities for $300 a month?”

If you can afford it, luxury apartments can add comfort to the college experience but be wary and don’t sign anything until you are absolutely sure you can pay for it.

Ricardo Tovar can be reached at [email protected] or @rtovarg13 on Twitter.

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