The Waterloo housing bubble

Let me preface this by saying I know nothing about economics. That said, if someone does, please write in and explain how I am wrong, or right. Let&rsquo;s see.&nbsp;</p>

The housing in Waterloo is garbage. Specifically, within the UW/WLU area that spans Phillip and King. The amount of student apartments is ridiculous. You look outside the window on DP’s sixth floor and you can easily spot five to seven cranes at a time. It will continue and I honestly don’t know at what point it will stop. When all the houses are demolished, the next step is to refurbish the older apartments. And the vicious cycle continues. 

I walk by Icon every day. It’s the biggest new apartment since Columbia 1. It advertises rooms starting at $465 or something low like that. Starting as low as $465 likely means that is the base room, with base accommodations, maybe even four other roommates and only one bathroom. There are apartments being built on Albert, Phillip, Spruce and god knows where else. When will it end?

UW residence has finally hit the point where they are no longer at maximum capacity for first years. That is crazy. What does that say about Waterloo? That residence has become outdated, or that university numbers are generally declining? Going based on the latter, that is a serious issue for all the apartment developers. According to the 33, there is a surplus of 1,200 student rooms in Waterloo, as of June 2015. And yet they are still building more apartments in May 2016. 

Rent right now in Waterloo for students is stupid. It can be reasonable if it suits your taste, like in a house with four other people, paying internet, hydro, whatever. The combinations are endless really. There is clearly a surplus of rooms, so why is rent not lower? I imagine the developers have to make some profit, which is why rent continues to be in the $500-600 range. 

Like I said before, I don’t know economics. I also don’t know how developing apartments works. But if I had to guess, rent is either going to freeze or increase. Many of the apartments are run by individual corporations, so they’ll probably never drop their prices. 

Waterloo, in 2012, had very few student apartments — those found on Lester at the most. When I moved here, I considered it a very good balance of student housing to regular housing. I’m from Ottawa, and the University of Ottawa has a terrible housing crisis because of its location. It was one end of the extreme. I thought, in 2012, that Waterloo was a good middle. In four short years, Waterloo has become its own extreme. 

I’ve been told by a local that the housing bubble already popped. I haven’t see the consequences yet, but I’m sure it’ll be impactful in a couple more years. 

Elizabeth Esnard


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4B Psychology, Science


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