Student housing market in Europe on the example of Spain: current situation and prospects

Student housing market in Europe on the example of Spain: current situation and prospects



“Student housing” sector in Spain has managed to evade the COVID-19 strike. Despite the fact that in the midst of the pandemic there was a lower employment level and a drop-in income, interest in developing and financing more projects not only did not extinguish, but even increased.

According to a study published by the consulting company JLL and the Spanish Exchanges and Markets (BME), based on data from INE and the analysis company DBK, the total number of centers and the supply of places in major colleges and university housing has increased over the past year, thereby highlighting the trend of significant growth in recent years.

As of the end of 2020, there were 1,053 centers in Spain, most of which were university dormitories (83% of the total), and the rest were colleges. The number of centers increased by 1.2% over the previous year, with a slight and exceptional increase (1.5%) in university dormitories. The number of beds in Spain increased by 3.8% in 2020 in colleges and university dormitories, reaching a total of 97,290 beds.

This real estate sector began to pick up speed a few years ago and, as the study says, “Since 2017, the number of centers has increased by 35 units and 7,732 locations. In particular, the number of beds increased by 12% in university dormitories, while in colleges it decreased by 1%”.

Madrid is currently the autonomy with the largest number of seats in the entire country, comprising 22.3% of the total, according to DBK data. This is followed by:

  • Catalonia (15.7%).
  • Andalusia (14.3%).
  • Castile and Leon (12.4%).

These communities alone account for 65% of the total supply in Spain.

In the rest of the country, the following percentage of “student housing” places are:

  • Valencia (7%).
  • Galicia (5.8%).
  • Basque Country (4%).
  • Aragon (3.8%).
  • Castile-La Mancha (3.6%).
  • Navarra (3.1%).

These districts are among those with more places for students, while Cantabria, La Rioja and the Balearic Islands account for 0.7% to 0.5% of the total, respectively.

The following areas are at the bottom of the ranking are:

  • Extremadura (2.4%).
  • Canary Islands (1.5%).
  • Asturias (1.3%).
  • Murcia (1.2%).


After modest growth in the midst of the coronavirus, progress in vaccinations and improved employment in dormitories in early 2020/21, moderate income growth can be expected in 2021 and 2022, after overcoming the worst effects of the pandemic.

“Thus, in the short term, the supply growth trend is expected to continue with the launch of a large number of new projects. By the end of 2022, the total supply in student dormitories is estimated at 111,000 places, which is 14% more than in 2020,” the study emphasizes. In particular, there will be 13,710 new locations throughout Spain.

This growth forecast is based on several factors. For example, potential growth of the population living in Spain between the ages of 18 and 24. According to NIS, the university-age population will increase by about 13% between 2021 and 2031.

Moreover, an increase in the number of young people in the higher education sector is expected in Spain, “the long-term implications include an increase in the number of international students and the expansion of the Erasmus program and digital learning, as well as consolidation of universities financial strength that interact more closely with dormitories,” the study clarifies.

Thus, the document emphasizes that “the market for student dormitories will continue to grow in the coming years, relying on the continued growth in the number of young people wishing to get higher education and favorable demographic trends. All this will have a positive impact on the need for housing”.

Investors' stake on this type of real estate is constant throughout Europe. Indeed, a study by consultancy PwC and the Land Urban Institute published earlier this year found student residences as the most attractive real estate investment alternatives, outperforming assets and hotels, High Street premises, urban shopping malls, parking lots, offices in minor cities, business parks and even a flexible office format known as coworking spaces.

As proof of this increased interest, it is enough to recall the investment plan announced by the EQT foundation and the promoter of Group Majoral, based on the creation of a “joint venture” to invest more than 300 million euros in student residences in Spain and with the aim of ultimately increasing investment to 500 million Euro.

Another recent example is the Belgian investment fund Xior Student Housing, which specializes in student housing in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal, which has launched a public offering of up to 58.4 million euro to Spanish company Student Properties Spain (SPS). Buying and selling of residences in cities such as Malaga, Seville or Madrid is also accelerating.


Nowadays, investing in student residences is a good choice for businesses with high profitability and moderate risk.

It should be noted that Spain has become more stable in the field of education over the past 30 years, reaching a high level of international recognition. Thus, 20% out of 2 million students studying at a university, doctoral or master's degree in Spain, move to other cities or municipalities for further studies and careers. In addition, Spain welcomes almost 180,000 international students, mainly in the cities of Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Andalusia and Valencia.

Against this background, the market for “student housing” is growing at the present time. Thus, it is one of the investments that constitutes a higher profitability compared to other real estate companies.


In order to invest in student residences, there are various aspects to consider that will help you get the best results.

  • Market analysis. It is important to analyze the political, economic, social, technological, legal and cultural conditions of the city where you want to start a business, as well as analyze the position of competitors. In addition, an analysis of strengths, opportunities and weaknesses can be carried out.
  • Location is critical as most students tend to stay in central locations with easy access to transportation. In addition, residences should be located in cities with a large educational offer.
  • Price. If you only offer basic services (water, electricity, rooms, seating area and internet), the price will be cheaper. Thus, housing will be available to more people. If you include additional services (laundry, library, cleaning, dining, linens, cafes and language classes), the final price will be higher. Thus, your residence will be more exclusive.
  • Marketing and promotion of the residence. It will be convenient to carry out promotions on social media, as well as on university websites or in various media, especially during the first few years, to get your housing offer known. It makes sense to publish attractive images, offer first-time discounts, and attractive services.
  • Features of real estate. To be cost effective, housing must have a minimum of 12 rooms. Also, offer the possibility of sharing an apartment with one or two people so that the student has the opportunity to cut costs in the event of sharing the space. On the other hand, it is very important that the building has several common, spacious and comfortable sectors such as garden, study and dining room.
  • University agreements. Be sure to check if it is necessary to sign cooperation agreements with universities in the area where your residence will be located.



  • Guaranteed demand in university cities.
  • Competitive prices.
  • Low unemployment rate.
  • Reduced structure of wage labor.
  • High profitability.


  • Unpredictability.
  • Costs.
  • Renovation work.


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