For residents of college towns, the attraction isn’t just about an allegiance to a school but an affinity for a community that has an impressive mix of characteristics: large city offerings and small town spirit.
Universities contribute to the intellectual and cultural life of a region by offering lectures, concerts, culinary and literary options. Then there’s the sports component, both as spectator and participant. Where young people are, biking, hiking, jogging and other recreational activities follow. Active retirees are especially drawn to lifelong learning opportunities. Many institutions offer discounts for the use of sports facilities, courses and plays. What’s more, universities with medical schools translate into excellent health care options.
From an investment prospective, college towns are known for their resiliency. For one thing, they often draw major employers to the area and, at the same time, support a flourishing start-up scene. Entrepreneurs are known to thrive in such environments.
Columbus, home to Ohio State University (OSU) with an enrollment of nearly 60,000 according to school figures, is an example. The institution churns out thousands of graduates each year, many of whom stay in the area, says Scott Street of Street Sotheby’s International Realty. “Corporate entities have taken note and many have chosen to relocate to Columbus. The tech startup and entrepreneurial scene has also caught on in recent years, and millions of dollars in seed money are helping grow companies and jobs in and aroun
d the OSU campus.”
A stable economy bodes well for the housing market. Even in down markets inventory is tight. Property owners in the rental pool can count on consistent student demand, though turnover is high.
But plenty of people are settling in themselves. Recent grads-turned-first-time homeowners as well as professors, researchers and administrators who want a reasonable commute find a lot to love about collegiate living. “Part of the reason Ohio State is able to pack Ohio Stadium, The Horseshoe, with 100,000-plus people every weekend during football season is because the alumni stay close to home. Many graduates settle in the surrounding suburbs, which are all less than a 20-minute drive to campus,” Scott says.
Austin, home of flagship campus of the University of Texas, also boasts one of the country’s largest student bodies at more than 51,000. “There’s so much going on in the area and at the university,” says Mike Vilece of Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty. “There’s no limit to what you can get out of the city. You could be out in the Hill Country or be next to 100,000 of your closest friends on a Saturday for a football game.”
Alumni, including empty nesters and baby boomers, returning to settle down are finding a different Austin than they experienced during their school years. “A lot of people can’t believe how the city has changed over the years,” says Vilece. “It’s not the city it used to be as far architecture and construction. New buildings are popping up everywhere, but the culture and vibe are still alive and well.”
Article provided by Iyna Bort Caruso exclusively for sothebysrealty.com