Durban student housing market makes waves

There are many property investors that swear by student accommodation as an
excellent buy-to-let option because, given a location close to a large
educational institution, demand is usually high and the occupancy rate close
to 100 percent.

And in Durban, this is evident in popular student housing areas such as
Glenwood, lower Musgrave, Westridge and Umbilo, says Jonathan Styles,
princpal of leading local agency Homenet Musgrave.

Large tertiary education institutions in the city include the DIT Technikon
with over 23 000 students, which is just off Berea Road in lower Musgrave,
the Howard College campus and Nelson Mandela medical school of the
University of KwaZulu-Natal on the Berea, and Damelin College which has
facilities in Field Street and its Westridge campus.

"Flats are the most popular student housing option in Glenwood and lower
Musgrave," says Styles, "and there are also a substantial number of flats
ideal for students in Westridge, close to Damelin."

Umbilo is a slightly more affordable area and the majority of students that
buy or rent property there are the medical students from the Nelson Mandela
School of Medicine. Styles notes that many of the flats in Umbilo are now
being specifically revamped or renovated to attract the student population.

However, looking at the student accommodation trend for Durban, he says many
students are still opting to rent rooms in other people's houses or flats,
or live together in communes in order to share costs.

The room rate for students in Durban runs between R1200 and R1600 a month.
By comparison, flats in the lower Musgrave area range in price from R400 000
for a one-bedroom unit right up to around R550 000 for two-bedroom units.

For students that can afford more upmarket accommodation at a higher price,
Morningside is a trendy address, because of the vibrant nightlife on Florida
Road, with numerous pubs, clubs and restaurants.

"However, with most students having to worry about paying their college or
university fees, affordability is still the biggest factor in their
accommodation choices, which means that student housing in Durban can still
be a good investment, even though the buy-to-let market generally is
saturated.

"It is advisable, though, to enlist the help of a knowledgeable local agent
to find the right property."

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