Commentary: Moving home isn’t an option for every student

In this commentary, news editor Jessica Saulnier explains how moving home isn't always an option for students living off campus. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

Finding student housing is a constant cycle of disappointment.

I knew landlords were charging too much for rent when I saw this three-bedroom house for rent on Facebook Marketplace that was more expensive than it should’ve been. The small house on Kings College Road cost roughly $600 per person, only some utilities were included, two parking spots and there was a tenant in the basement also paying rent.

While I don’t know much about houses, I know the homeowner is likely paying less in mortgage than the total students are paying in rent.

At the end of June, my roommate and I decided not to renew our lease. She said we should move somewhere that had more amenities offered for the same price we were paying at the time. I agreed.

I convinced my long-time best friend to be our third roommate because student housing always tends to be a little cheaper when it comes to three people splitting the cost.

Our lease ended on Oct. 1, which meant we had about two and a half months to find somewhere else to live. While I was concerned, I thought back to last year when there were so many apartments for rent at affordable prices. We previously found and signed our lease in mid-August 2020, with a move-in date of Oct. 1.

So, while I was a little worried about ending our lease without having another secured place to live, I knew we did it the previous year, so anything was possible.

Well, the joke was on us.

We had a viewing to see a cute little house on the same road as our current apartment. We already had the viewing booked before we terminated our lease. It had black and white checkered kitchen flooring and our own washer and dryer. I had a good feeling about this one, mainly because we told the landlord we lived eight houses away. But, as you can guess, we didn’t get it.

At this point, we still had two and a half months to look, so that’s what we did. My two roommates and I contacted every single three-bedroom house and apartment listing we saw but we barely received any responses.

Out of the roughly 25 places we messaged in those three months, we only got two viewings. The other one was too far out on the Northside and made no sense to live there.

There’s no housing for students anymore – in a university town. When I think back to finding a place last year, classes were online, so a large percentage of students who live outside Fredericton didn’t move back. But with classes being in-person this year, all the housing is gone.

Not only were there no places to rent, but the places that are available are absurdly out of a student price range. Students don’t make enough money every month to pay over $600 with no utilities included. In half the places we saw online, there was no point contacting the landlord because we wouldn’t be able to afford it anyway.

After chatting with other students, and even professors, it’s clear to me landlords have been charging more than they should for rent because they know students have no choice.

Students need to drain their entire savings accounts in a year to be able to afford to live in overpriced housing.

My whole life I lived outside Fredericton, so when I moved into my first apartment in the city, I was excited for how easy things were going to be. It only took me five minutes to drive to campus, or the mall, or even my workplace. I was also excited because it was preparing me for when I move elsewhere after I graduate from STU.

So, if at the end of this, you’re still wondering if we found a three-bedroom place by Oct. 1, we didn’t.

I went back to my parent’s house, but moving back home when you can’t find a place isn’t an option for everyone, nor is it the dream of any student.