DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Savio Realty held an open house this past weekend at its privately run Kalo Terrace dorm at 1054 Kalo Place, behind Puck's Alley, near the university. UH student Sheri Chang, center, went down to visit with Don Marcus, left, and Fairoza Mansor, from Singapore. The three are in one of the converted apartment's four bedrooms, which hold two students per room, for a total of eight. Each apartment also has two bathrooms and two refrigerators.
Student housing less tight this year
Dorm applications are down and rents slightly lower, say campus agencies
College students looking for housing this fall appear to have more options and face slightly less expensive rents than last year.
At the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the number of people applying for on-campus dorms is down from last year -- a possible indication that fall enrollment is down in the face of rising tuition and a strong economy that has some potential students entering the job market instead of going to college.
Interim housing director Laurie Furutani said last week that she expects that spaces will open up for many of the approximately 250 people still on the on-time waiting list for UH dorms. There were about 500 people on the waiting list last month, fewer than last year, she said.
Move-in day for UH dorm students is Thursday.
Students looking to rent apartments or share housing are also finding more listings and slightly less expensive rents, say off-campus housing directors at UH-Manoa and Hawaii Pacific University.
Developer Peter Savio and Century Campus Housing are also offering an alternative to on-campus housing: dorms in Waikiki and Manoa run by a private company.
Hawaii Island Student Suites held an open house this weekend for students interested in living in apartment buildings in Waikiki and Manoa that have been converted to dorms.
Don Marcus, a UH-Manoa student from Singapore, said he is likely to move in to the company's Kalo Terrace -- a three-story hollow-tile apartment building with a pool in the neighborhood behind Puck's Alley.
About eight students share an apartment, each paying about $675 a month, Marcus said.
That is more than the on-campus UH-Manoa dorms but less than what he would pay if he rented an apartment, Marcus said.
"I think it's actually better than the (campus) dorms," said Marcus' friend Sheri Chang, who was apartment hunting with him.
Cheryl Bohs, an exchange student from New Jersey, has already moved into Kalo Terrace.
Bohs said she was able to find a place to live on the Internet before moving to Hawaii.
After weighing her options, Bohs decided that dorm living with roommates was "a better way to meet people" than renting an apartment on her own.
Hawaii Island Student Suites has about 800 beds to rent in three buildings -- 646 more beds than last year -- after converting two Waikiki apartment buildings into dorms, said Managing Director Jackie Hughes.
Costs for a bed in the company's buildings range from $625 to $1,100 a month. The dorms are staffed with resident advisers, and the rent includes cable and Internet access, Hughes said.
Dorms at UH-Manoa cost between $3,092 to $5,956 per academic year, or roughly $344 to $661 per month.
Patrick Mayock, director of off-campus housing for HPU, said rents are still high, but students who want to live off-campus seem to be able to find places within their budgets by sharing the cost with other students.
Classes at HPU start Sept. 5, and Mayock said the rush to find housing will likely pick up in the next couple of weeks for HPU students.
Terry Howell Jr., the UH-Manoa off-campus housing coordinator, said the average rent of a one-bedroom apartment listed on his office's Web site between April and July was about $1,300 a month, compared with $1,460 last summer.
However, the average price for two-bedroom apartments has gone up -- about $1,920 a month, compared with about $1,750 last year.
Mayock said bargains are available for those who can shop around.
"I see ads for $400 to $500 a month for rooms to rent or rooms to share," Mayock said. "I think (rents) are better than last year. I think there's more inventory available."