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PBSA top 5 decision making factors for students

by Nikki Dale -

Year on year purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) satisfaction rates are increasing.  Overall 75% of students who live in private PBSA would recommend their private dwellings to first year students, up from 69% in 2019.

These are new figures from a 2020 UCAS and Knight Frank survey, a poll to uncover: the main factors influencing a students decision to live somewhere, enlighten the PBSA sector, and give developers opportunity to take heed. If PBSA developers are not taking a combination of these factors into account – they should.

There are a number of demands from students and they take their decision about where to live very seriously.  Cost of living comes, surprisingly, below the importance of access to facilities and living with friends. Above this criteria is having the option to stay for more than one year. And the most important and number one deciding factor is location.


A students ideal location is to have as much on their doorstep as conveniently possible.  They will weigh-up the distance from their accommodation to the university campus(es) and university buildings – large universities can have buildings dotted all around the town or city.  Distance to the town/city centre where they will socialise and maybe have part-time employment will be considered.  And also regeneration areas attracts overseas and domestic students as they create perfect job opportunities for undergraduates.

Long-term Tenants

Purpose-built student accommodation provides the perfect option for long-term rental.  Especially for overseas students that want peace of mind and convenience from the on-set to focus on their degree and position themselves to get the best result possible.  Finding accommodation that can be secured on a long-term rental basis is ideal for the student and their paying parents.  PBSA rented to overseas student is normally paid a year upfront, for the entire year.

Staying with Friends

The most common types of PBSA is a studio self-contained flat or an en-suite which would be in a cluster of 4, 6 or 8 en-suites with a communal kitchen and lounge. Both provide the solution for pairs/groups of friends staying together or securing studio apartments next door to each other.

Access to Facilities

Many student developers are setting the bar and concentrating on a high-end living environment focused on the students wellbeing.  This will include some of the following: a residents’ social lounge, gymnasium, cinema room, laundry room and bike store.  Some real high-end student living buildings are even equipped with a studio or calm room for yoga, meditation, tai chi and Pilates.  That said savvy developers won’t over estimate the demand for these facilities in every PBSA in town, as they know affordability and achieving 95% -100% occupancy is equally important. Getting the right balance is key.

Cost of Living 

Cost of living in a PBSA studio or en-suite with on-site facilities is of course relative.  The weekly rent cost is dependable on varying factors.  En-suite apartments are a great option to keep costs down and still benefit from: a private high-spec room, living with friends, a perfect location and longevity.   For many overseas students, who’s paying parents have no issue with the higher weekly rent, opt for a self-contained studio to give maximum independence and privacy.

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