A Look Into Ann Arbor's Luxury Apartment Scene

at University of Michigan

The University of Michigan's International Center estimates monthly rental rates for students living in Ann Arbor to be between $450 - $750 for a studio, $750 - $1000 for a two bedroom apartment, and $850 - $1300 for a three bedroom apartment or condo. With these luxury apartments, however, you can expect at least an additional $200-$300 stacked on top of these averages.

The Ann Arbor student housing scene has always been very unique. On average, Michigan students begin looking for housing almost 3-4 months before many other university students across the nation. Whether that phenomenon can be attributed to the University's reputation for attracting naturally competitive and diligent students, a lack of desirable housing, or some other characteristic of the market, it's a fact that the majority of leases signed in Ann Arbor occur only a couple months after the initial fall move-in period.

Ann Arbor locales will tell you that less than a decade ago, the Ann Arbor skyline looked much different. For decades, local laws protected small businesses from corporate expansion. But within the last decade, it seems like these multi-million dollar apartment complexes have brokered a deal with the city and are starting to spring up everywhere. But should it come as a surprise? With continuing funding cuts from the state, the bursting of the national housing bubble in 2007, and the Great Recession of 2008, the University needed a way to generate funds to maintain its top-tier athletics, its top-tier stadiums, and its expensive buildings. Since I entered as a freshmen, two-thirds of the dorms have been completely renovated, a tree was moved for $400,000, a new eight-story graduate building is nearly complete, and countless other renovation projects have been completed.

One of the strategies the University used to generate extra funds was to attract more out-of-state students who are subject to the nearly 400% markup in tuition annually. This influx of non-resident students who are able to afford the University's high-price tag transformed the student population of Ann Arbor, and thus the entire Ann Arbor housing market. Students from families of relatively higher socio-economic backgrounds were entering the population and demanding a higher standard of living than the traditional antiquated houses and apartments available for rent. This spike in demand for better quality housing opened the floodgates for these modern, luxurious high-rise apartments... and Ann Arbor has never been the same since.

With the advent of these luxury apartments, rent prices in Ann Arbor have been rising steadily about 2% yearly to compete, but demand for non-luxury apartments has declined. While spots like Landmark are charging upwards of $1000 for a newly-built, fully furnished studio apartment, Ann Arbor landlords are under the impression that they can lease out their slightly run-down and out-dated one-bedrooms for around $850 a pop (a significant difference from the University's estimates). They reason that their spaces are competitive with the quality found in many of these high-rises, often times offering more square-footage than their multi-story counterparts.

The University of Michigan is going through a growth phase, with total enrollment rising over 4% from 2011 to 2014. And with the hiring of a new superstar football coach, renovations to key buildings around campus, and the university's consistently high national rankings across all departments, Ann Arbor's growth doesn't seem like it's going to stop anytime soon; and that means the city will continue to remain an attractive investment opportunity for those looking to enter the luxury apartment market in Ann Arbor.

Refer to the guide below to compare the "Big 10" high-end luxury apartments in Ann Arbor:

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