By Jenae Thornberry, FSU News

Students struggling to pay exorbitant rent prices should know that they’re not alone — the cost of rent for apartments aimed towards students in Tallahassee is skyrocketing.

Data from the Tallahassee-Leon County Office of Economic Vitality indicates that the average rent price per bed for students has increased by more than 30% in the past three years, bringing the current price to an average of $839 from $642.

“I was completely shocked when I was looking at apartment prices for my boys,” said Angela Bances, a mother of two incoming FSU freshmen.

“If I didn’t want them to live in a shoebox and wanted them to be able to walk to campus, I would have to spend thousands of dollars. I was trying to save money by allowing them to not need a car, but I think it will be cheaper to just get them one.”

Factors like nationwide inflation, an increase in people moving to Tallahassee and policies that have led to increased property taxes might be contributing. In September, city commissioners raised the property tax rate by 8.5% to increase the Tallahassee Police Department’s budget.

Although rent has increased for housing targeted towards students, this is not the case for the overall rental market.

Data from Zillow, an online real estate marketplace, reflects a $125 decrease in Tallahassee’s median rent price since March 2023, bringing the median price to $1,400 monthly.

According to Kaitlyn Mae Christensen Sacco, an instructor at FSU’s School of Dance, rent prices in Tallahassee have made long-term residents and students frustrated.

“I’ve lived in Tallahassee both as an FSU student and as an FSU teacher for a total of 10 years,” she said. “Tallahassee has always been so expensive, it was shocking. My rent was more in Tallahassee than in New York City. Granted, I had a furnished studio in Tally and lived with three others in New York, but we were in Manhattan.”

Quinn Kelchner, a fourth-year developmental psychology student, also feels that student housing is too expensive.

“I definitely would not be able to afford rent here if it weren’t for my scholarships, and even then, rent takes a big chunk of my paycheck,” she said.

It has been reported that more than 16,000 Leon County households allocate over half their incomes to housing. ZipRecruiter, an online employment marketplace, notes that the average Tallahassee student job pays $2,728 per month, or about $17 an hour.

Some of Tallahassee’s more expensive student housing options, including those owned by property groups like American Campus, typically constitute prime locations near campus and range in price from over $1,800 a month for a one-bedroom apartment to around $1,100 for a bedroom in a four or five bedroom apartment.

Kelchner says that the cost of student housing seems to be rising at a worrying rate.

“Every year it gets more and more, and I get that rent goes up every year, but the rate at which the rent goes up does not seem proportional. These are students — it seems ridiculous to expect people without scholarships to be able to pay for it.

Blueprint, Tallahassee’s intergovernmental urban development agency, is expected to discuss “a significant change” on “whether to add affordable land acquisition” as a new project.

The proposal, put forth by the Capital Area Justice Ministry, seeks to utilize Blueprint’s infrastructure funds to purchase land and support the development of affordable rental housing.

“I really hope the city does something. It feels like only people with lots of money will be able to go here if rent keeps going up,” said Kelchner.

With the increase in rent for students, some have decided that dorming is the better option.

Reian Beltram, a fourth-year student getting her BFA in graphic design, has lived on campus his whole time at FSU.

“I like how close it is to campus, and honestly, I don’t like having to worry about utilities or monthly rent. I like being able to pay for it all upfront,” she said. “But I know a lot of students can’t do that.”

The average cost of a typical, suite-style double dorm with a shared bath for the 2023-2024 school year is $3,745 per semester, or around $749 per month, including utilities.

“It’s cheaper, but it definitely has downsides,” said Beltram. “There is a lot less space than you could probably get at an apartment. I live in a dorm with a kitchen in the suite, but most of the dorms don’t have them, and that would be a nightmare for me. I definitely get why people would rather live in apartments.”

View the original story here.