Friday 23 August 2019

'They're starting to panic' - students chase every room, willing to pay high price market demands

Home hunting: Reporter Gabija Gataveckaite checks out accommodation at Dublin’s Point campus. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Home hunting: Reporter Gabija Gataveckaite checks out accommodation at Dublin’s Point campus. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Gabija Gataveckaite

As the housing crisis squeezes students in the rental market, perhaps paying €250 a week for a box room in Dublin doesn't sound so bad.

Private student accommodation is now a common sight across the city - with some accommodation offering private gyms and cinema rooms.

But the high costs involved mean that desperate students are left with little choice but to dig deeper into their pockets.

The Irish Independent viewed some of the private accommodation options across Dublin, the costs of which range from €210 to €300 a week.

In south Dublin, for €300 a week - or a cool €10,800 for the academic year - you can secure a double bed in a room which is large in size but shabby in appearance.

There's little storage in the room besides a wardrobe, a chest of drawers and a desk. A cheap wooden shelf unit seems to be the only exclusive piece of furniture in the room, which is en suite.

When asked if the busy main road outside the window is noisy, the staff member facilitating the viewing shrugged.

"I guess it would be a little noisy, yeah," he said.

Corridors which weave in and out, like they do in a hostel, reek strongly of fresh paint.

There's only one lift, which probably would make things challenging for the accommodation block's couple of hundred residents as they scramble for their 9am lectures.

Either seven, six or eight people share a kitchen, which is combined with a living area.

Three leatherette couches form a U, and some have their surfaces scratched, worn over time. A single fridge is shared by eight residents in one of the kitchens, something more suited to a family of four than eight hungry students.

Across the city and near to a Luas line, the situation seems somewhat better.

A new British company prides itself with costs being on the lower end of the scale, with rooms starting at €230.

The reception area is huge - similar to a gym hall rather than a traditional apartment block reception area in size.

It seems that there has been no expense spared - the interior is tastefully decorated, with a rustic but colourful theme.

There's a games room, small booths around the reception area and private television rooms with bean bags and a curtain for privacy.

All residents get access to a large fully fitted gym and cinema room, which has posters of Irish stars lining the walls, including Saoirse Ronan and Hozier.

The courtyard has half a basketball court and lots of outdoor seating for residents who smoke.

Each apartment has eight rooms, with the most expensive costing €270 per week.

Every bedroom is complete with a brand new bathroom which features a mirror which lights up.

According to a staff member, the only difference between the cheaper and more expensive rooms is the size and a television.

Rooms aren't particularly big, but with an air conditioning setting fixed onto the walls, they feel more like a hotel.

The kitchen has a large flatscreen and comfy sofas.

For eight people, we have two fridges, two ovens, two hobs, the staff member said.

Cutlery, crockery and pans are provided - one of everything for eight people.

This is luxury accommodation, and last year students were generally divided in a ratio of 60:40, international to Irish.

This year it's more 50:50, according to the staff member.

"Most of them go to Trinity. It's like Trinity Halls 2.0 here," he laughed.

Nearby, another British student complex chain has a building towering over Dublin.

Rooms cost up to €300 but each room is the same size and en suite - the only difference is the number of people residents share the apartment with.

The residents share a common area, which has high ceilings. There's two people per one large fridge.

A gym is also available, which is smaller in size compared to the previous accommodation.

With Leaving Cert results quickly approaching, the rooms are filling up fast.

"I think people are getting a bit desperate now," said a staff member.

"They're starting to panic - we had five viewings today."

In Dublin's north inner city, choices for student accommodation aren't as comfortable.

At the one I visited the gym is smaller, the kitchen is barely above standard and the en suite bathrooms aren't as luxurious.

At best, it could be considered standard student accommodation, with some additional extras like its cinema room.

However, not all rooms are available for viewing this time of year.

"We rent out the rooms on the first two floors as Airbnbs during the summer," explained one worker.

"And we put our students on the top floor for those months."

It seems that with the city on the doorstep, there is always going to be huge demand for accommodation in Dublin.

Irish Independent

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