Tuscaloosa Ranks First Among SEC Most Competitive College-Town Rents

close-up of a rental sign in front an apartment building

Among the list of SEC schools, The University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL) ranks as the most competitive, where actual rents of $1,504 is $30 lower than expected rents of $1,534 or 2% below predicted rents. This is according to ongoing, monthly report co-produced by the Alabama Center for Real Estate at the University of Alabama, Florida Atlantic University Real Estate Initiative, and Florida Gulf Coast University’s Lucas Institute for Real Estate Development & Finance.

“These results reflect that the University of Alabama provides a win-win in terms of top athletics and academics, and affordable rents in Tuscaloosa,” said Bennie Waller, PhD, of The University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Business and research associate at the Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE). Complete interactive data for both the US and Alabama can be found here.

The most overpriced SEC rental market is Oxford, MS (Ole Miss) with rents of $1,577, which is almost 16% higher than predicted rents of $1,363. The Y-O-Y increase in rates in Oxford was 25% compared with rents in Tuscaloosa of just under 7%, while nearby Starkville (MS State) witnessed an increase of 1.57% in Y-O-Y rents. The only Y-O-Y decrease in rents was in Baton Rouge (LSU) of approximately .50%. Other SEC college towns saw increases in Y-O-Y rents of 15.24%, 11.97%, and 11.8% in Athens, GA (UGA); Auburn, AL; and Knoxville, TN (UT) respectively.

Nashville, TN (home to Vanderbilt), is the most expensive SEC market with rents ending March 2023 of $1,901, with 4.98% increase in Y-O-Y in rents.  “Nashville, while being home to Vanderbilt, is not a typical college town, but rather an urban area with an SEC school,” said Bennie Waller, PhD, of The University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Business. Columbia, MO (home of Mizzou) is the least expensive SEC market with rents of $1,093 with increase in Y-O-Y in rents of 10.5%.

Shelton Weeks, PhD, of Florida Gulf Coast University’s Lucas Institute for Real Estate Development & Finance notes the “importance of all schools provide information regarding room and board for students who live on campus. However, most students at least consider living off campus at some point during college. As a result, we believe this information will be useful in the budgeting process for students and their families”.

“Many parents find themselves choosing which SEC school to send their children to. Our goal was to produce a quick analysis to help those parents make more informed decisions concerning rents in the various SEC markets,” said Ken H. Johnson, PhD, an economist in FAU’s College of Business.

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