Two million more college-age Americans are living with their parents or grandparents instead of renting, according to new data from Zillow released Thursday.

As universities continue to move classes online to help curb the coronavirus pandemic, rent prices in college towns close to a major universities have fallen by 1.2 percent since February, according to new data from Zillow released Thursday.

From the Boston neighborhood occupied by Northeastern University to Berkeley, the home of its own namesake university in California, the average rent in college towns dropped from $1,809 in February to $1,787 in September. Meanwhile, rent prices have increased by 1.4 percent year over year nationwide.

The change comes due to a major upheaval caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Colleges across the country have either cancelled or significantly reduced in-person classes to help prevent the coronavirus from spreading on campuses. As a result, two million more college-age Americans who would have otherwise have been renting are instead living with parents or grandparents and taking classes online.

“The softening rental market across the country is more stark in college neighborhoods as pandemic-mandated campus closures and opportunities to complete courses online have provided motivation for young people to move back home,” Zillow Senior Economist Cheryl Young said in a prepared statement.


The larger the number of college students in a given town, the bigger the fall in rent prices. Rent is down 7 percent in the zip code that includes Boston’s Northeastern University and is made up of 60 percent students. Berkeley, which is 70 percent students, saw its rents plummet by 6 percent.

With a margin of 3.4 percent, the gap between median college town rental rates and overall rent is the largest recorded since 2017, according to the study. To keep renters in place, landlords in college towns are making concessions with lower prices or offering leniency if a tenant is unable to pay on time.

Such adjustments, Zillow predicts, are likely to continue for as long as the virus continues to rage. Nonetheless, prices are expected to bounce back modestly as colleges reopen.

“With many leases ending at the end of the summer or the beginning of the fall, we can expect even greater impacts in the months ahead,” Young said. “The good news for rental owners is administrators seem to be itching to bring students back to campus as soon as they can do so safely, so it’s possible this will be a relatively short-term shock to rent prices.”

Email Veronika Bondarenko

recession | Zillow
Show Comments Hide Comments


Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription