On the list of the City’s strategic priorities you’ll see mention of great quality of life, great neighborhoods, and abundant college town lifestyle amenities — all at an affordable price. Ambitious I admit, but that’s what setting strategic goals is all about — dreaming big and striving every day to get a couple of steps closer to your aspirations.
Certainly, much of the downtown redevelopment is oriented to living up to the promise of being the kind of vibrant college town that university cities have become known for. Although the strategic goals are really big stuff that can mean different things to different people, and are often more qualitative than quantitative, we still have measures that we use to try to track our progress and manage our efforts.
It turns out that this week Forbes Magazine gave us a bonus measure as Kent turned up in the top 10 on their list of most affordable college towns nationwide. Here’s the Forbes article:
The Most Affordable College Towns
Katie Evans, 11.11.10, 6:00 AM ET
Going to college used to mean trading in personal space and privacy to live in ugly but functional dorms. But many of today’s college students will never have to share a bathroom with 20 strangers or climb into a top bunk while tipsy.
According to a new national study by Coldwell Banker Real Estate, more parents are buying houses for their kids to live in while they attend school–or moving the whole family near campus so their kids can live at home.
“College markets are quintessential America,” says Jim Gillespie, chief executive of Coldwell Banker. “The economies, traditionally, in university and college towns are pretty good. There’s a stable employment base, a lot of culture and sports, and strong medical facilities, research and development.”
Of course some towns are a better place to buy than others. To see how college towns stack up in home price affordability, Coldwell Banker looked at the average listing prices of four-bedroom, two-bath properties listed for sale between April and September 2010, in markets home to the 120 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision, and which had at least six homes on the market during those months.
The No. 1 most affordable college town in America? Muncie, Ind., home to Ball State University. A four-bedroom home close to the Ball State campus costs an average $105,115, according the report. “It’s the quality of life issues that are driving folks here,” said Jay Julian, president and chief executive of the Muncie-Delaware County Chamber of Commerce. There are perks to living near Ball State, Julian explained, like safety, university facilities and affordable things to do.
Ball State isn’t unique in its region. The study shows that a significant number of the most affordable campus markets–eight out of the top 15–are in the Midwest. Ohio alone is home to four of the top 15 affordable college towns: Akron–University of Akron (No. 5); Athens–Ohio University (No. 7); Kent–Kent State University (No. 8) and Toledo–University of Toledo (No. 9).
The south also fares well for affordability; Tennessee’s University of Memphis placed third, followed closely by Columbia, South Carolina’s University of South Carolina in fourth. Louisiana Tech in Ruston and Tulane University in New Orleans, La., were also among the top college towns.
The least affordable markets in the survey tend to be located on the coasts, particularly in California: Palo Alto, Calif., home to Stanford University, is the most expensive, followed by Honolulu, Hawaii (University of Hawaii) and Los Angeles, Calif. (University of California and the University of Southern California).
But even in pricier towns, more parents are making the move to buy near their kid’s schools. According to Coldwell Banker’s study, 64% of 425 real estate professionals surveyed across the United States report a “significant number” of parent investors buying near campus. And while real estate investors have long purchased homes near campuses and rented them out, parents are increasingly making their investments work in a similar fashion, says Gillespie, collecting rent from their kid’s roommates and selling the houses upon graduation.
Allan Ackerman, a real estate agent with RE/MAX Lakes and Land who covers real estate in Columbia, S.C., says many parents of incoming students are looking to invest in homes because the cost of boarding in schools has gone up.
“It’s the right time to buy,” Ackerman says, though he cautions prospective parent investors to avoid overspending, even in the depressed market. “The best thing would probably be to find someone who bought a house for their kid four years ago and is trying to get rid of it.”