Study: SEC college towns see rents rising quicker than national average

Rent Housing

College tuition is always rising, but so too are the costs for renting an apartment or home in college towns.

Rental costs in each SEC conference city are rising higher than the national average, according to a monthly rental report from researchers at three universities.

Across the 14 cities represented in the SEC, rent prices over the past 12 months increased an average of 8.22%, double the 4.11% national average.

The numbers come from the Waller, Weeks and Johnson Rental Index, a joint effort from the University of Alabama’s Alabama Center Center of Real Estate, Florida Atlantic University’s Real Estate Initiative and Florida Gulf Coast University’s Lucas Institute for Real Estate Development and Finance.

Average monthly rent in SEC cities in June was $1,541, below the $2,054 national average, and no SEC city had rent higher than the national average.

“Not only does the SEC offer great academics and athletic programs, but also provides an affordable rental market for students,” said Bennie Waller, the William Cary Hulsey Faculty Fellow in the UA Culverhouse College of Business and a research associate in the Alabama Center for Real Estate.

Oxford and Starkville in Mississippi had the biggest increases, with 20% for Oxford and 14% for Starkville.

“Rent in Oxford is wildly rising and becoming more expensive,” Waller said. “There’s less real estate and as a result, prices are sky-high.”

Among the SECcities, Nashville features the most expensive average, at $1,966, while Columbia, Missouri, was the cheapest at an average of $1,083.

Tuscaloosa hovers somewhere in the middle, with a year-over-year increase of 8.03% and an average rent of $1,523.

Check the full numbers below:

Change in average rent from June 2022 to June 2023

SEC City 12-month Rent Increase
Athens, Georgia 9.28
Auburn, Alabama 9.68
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 0.81
College Station, Texas 7.03
Columbia, Missouri 9.79
Columbia, South Carolina 6.7
Fayetteville, Arkansas 7.13
Gainesville, Florida 5.58
Knoxville, Tennessee 7.21
Lexington, Kentucky 6.65
Nashville, Tennessee 2.33
Oxford, Mississippi 20.94
Starkville, Mississippi 14.19
Tuscaloosa, Alabama 7.8

Source: Waller, Weeks and Johnson Rental Index.

Complete interactive data for both the U.S. and Alabama can be found on the ACRE website.

You can read more about the study right here.

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