AUSTIN (KXAN) — According to data from Apartment List, the West Campus area has higher rent prices than many other parts of Austin.

“In that very close University-adjacent area, two bedroom apartments right now are running like two grand a month, which is about $100 to $200 more expensive every month than the citywide average,” said Apartment List Senior Research Associate Rob Warnock.

It’s something University of Texas graduate student Edwin Bautista experienced firsthand.

“It’s been tough finding actually affordable housing, especially as a student just because my income is so limited,” Bautista said.

West Campus housing high-rise boom

The University of Texas at Austin has the highest bed count in the nation for student housing projects currently under construction, according to real estate company Berkadia’s 2023 Student Housing Market report.

The report shows UT coming in at the top spot with 5,522 total beds. That’s nearly double the University of Wisconsin at Madison, which is ranked second on the 50-school list.

The top-five bed count:

  • University of Texas at Austin: 5,522
  • University of Wisconsin – Madison: 2,814
  • University of Maryland: 2,648
  • University of Central Florida: 2,634
  • Georgia Institute of Technology; 2,630

This comes as new housing high-rises are popping up all across the West Campus area.

“I can think of like six buildings right now that are going up,” said Juliet Janet, an agent with Housing Scout in Austin.

Tuesday, Birmingham-based Hoar Construction announced the groundbreaking of construction on the tower, named Icon. It’s expected to be done by the summer of 2025, in time for students to move in before the 2025-26 school year starts.

Rendering of Icon, a student housing high-rise under construction in West Campus. It’ll be an all-glass, 30-story tower when complete. (Courtesy: The Wilbert Group/Hoar Construction)

The tower will be built at 2200 San Antonio St., which is near the corner of 22nd and San Antonio streets.

Jeffrey Light, Vice President of Hoar Construction, said the rental price is in the hands of the developer.

“They would obviously love for it to be as low as possible. But the reality is, the cost of land is one major factor that they can’t control,” Light said. “And then construction costs have gone up as everything is inflated, including labor.”

Just last Tuesday, the news broke that popular West Campus bar Cain & Abel’s is also turning into a new housing high-rise after a demolition permit was filed with the City of Austin.

Cost of living

Janet said on the lower end, students could find housing in West Campus for around $700 with roommates. But the higher end, could be triple that.

“City View, Skyline, cool bowling alleys, all kinds of crazy things. You can get that for about $2,000 type of range,” Janet said.

Still, compared to further out parts of the city, Warnock said rent in the West Campus area has increased at a slower rate. He said that’s because of how many new apartments are being built.

“Moderating it from extreme rent growth that I think would take place if there were just no new units going online in that in that neighborhood,” Warnock said.

Affordable housing help

The City of Austin is currently working on ways to address affordable student housing.

It comes after it received recommendations from the city’s College Student Commission, which is comprised of 15 members representing UT Austin, St. Edwards University, Huston-Tillotson University, Concordia University Texas and Austin Community College.

Bautista ended up moving out of West Campus because the cost got too high. But those housing issues inspired him to join the commission to help make a difference.

“Making housing that is accessible to the lower income spectrum of students,” Bautista said.

In February, the city council approved a resolution that directs the city manager to work with colleges on creating a goal for student housing development that can be added to the city’s Housing Blueprint.