From Student Housing to Senior Living: Niche Multifamily Development

Targeted multifamily development can meet new demographic needs

Multifamily properties have traditionally targeted single, young professionals as the most sought-after renter demographic. However, as renter trends continue to change, multifamily development should keep pace. 

Niche demographic 1: Students

Off-campus student housing demand spiked in some areas following the pandemic. A need for more flexible, private space led many university students to leave campus. Multihousing News explains

“As students remain cautious, studios, single rooms and spacious double rooms will likely continue to be in high demand in 2022. This is why one could say that off-campus housing was more prepared to face the pandemic with their unit types.”

Newly designed student housing may take a nontraditional approach to space, using Jack-and-Jill bathrooms shared by two units, for example. 

Multifamily Dive recently reported on the top student housing development activity. The top schools attracting this niche multifamily development are:

  • University of Washington
  • Virginia Tech
  • Indiana University
  • Clemson University
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Florida
  • University of Michigan

Any college town offers an opportunity for student housing development or redevelopment, and targeting this market could offer long-term, sustainable occupancy for developers and managers. 

In many markets, off-campus housing also offers more affordability and the modern amenities that Gen Z students want. Those amenities include:

  • Access to outdoor spaces
  • Natural light
  • Apps that make service requests simpler
  • Reliable WiFi connectivity
  • Access to public transit
  • Storage options
  • Furnished units

Creating attractive housing for this demographic means thinking about safety, community-building and supporting a study-and-play lifestyle. 

Niche demographic 2: Seniors 

Another growing renter demographic includes active seniors. Seniors Housing Business reported that demand in this group hit an all-time high in late 2021

While past iterations of senior living focused on on-site care and meal plans, up to 90 percent of Americans 65 and better need a different type of apartment living. Enter “active adult living” (AAL) to meet the needs of this healthy, lifestyle-oriented group. 

IREI explains

“The AAL apartment renter is resistant to conventional senior living and has no interest in living with a bunch of old people. They are active, healthy and don’t need a meal plan. They want to enjoy their active years in an environment that is highly amenitized, supports their interests and offers a community ambience, conducive to building and sustaining new friendships. They just don’t want to deal with maintenance and taking care of a house anymore. They’ve got things to do, places to go.”

Top priorities for this renter demographic include: 

  • Low-maintenance living
  • Nearby access to restaurants, shopping, recreation and entertainment
  • On-site classes and lectures that fit their interests and hobbies
  • Events that foster community-building and support friendships
  • Gardens, walking paths and other natural areas
  • Pet-friendly amenities like dog parks

This group often has a luxury budget available, but more affordable communities will also appeal to a significant number of seniors and retirees. 

Shift your brand and marketing 

For existing multifamily properties, redevelopment or renovation could help reach these two growing renter markets. Considering the unique lifestyle needs of these niche markets will help guide your efforts to design spaces that will appeal to these renter groups. 

In addition, a rebrand and strong marketing strategy will help you reach these often untapped demographic groups. 

Ready for a rebrand? Want to reach a new renter market? Reach out to us. From branding design to multifamily marketing strategy, we’ve got you covered.

Posted By

Sara Bess