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Friday, December 08, 2023

UW-Madison students struggle to keep up with increasing apartment prices

The struggle to find affordable housing in Madison is at an all time high.

With the first two weeks of the semester under each student’s belt, it’s that time of year when students dread receiving those pristine white envelopes under their front doors, declaring their fate — also known as their rent renewal agreement. 

The choice between scrambling for a new place to live or renewing an overpriced apartment lease with no amenity upgrades shouldn’t sound so difficult, but for the students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, it can be one of the most overwhelming decisions to make all school year. 

With a record-breaking number of students enrolled at UW-Madison, housing options and availability are limited. 

Returning students at the university are aware of the incredibly early start to the leasing process in Madison. In fact, some apartments have already reached full capacity while others are slipping away each day.

The most frustrating ordeal in the upcoming 2024-25 leasing year is the surge in rent prices. Almost every Madison apartment complex has increased their rent upward of $200, citing inflation as a cause. 

The pricing increases have been the deciding factor for many students who choose not to resign their lease. 

UW-Madison sophomore Isra Ahmed, whose four-bedroom apartment at the X01 Apartments located at 1001 University Ave. will increase around $225 per month, decided to seek out other housing options for next year. 

“One of my roommates and I will be looking for another apartment next year,” Ahmed said. “We just can’t justify the price any longer.” 

X01 is a central hub for students at UW-Madison, with close proximity to the majority of campus. However, the lack of luxury amenities made Ahmed question whether or not the rent price was worth it. 

“It’s not affordable by any means when compared to other apartments like The Hub or The James. They’re similar in pricing but not in amenities,” Ahmed said. 

The Hub On Campus Madison, owned by Greystar, is known as a luxury apartment for students on campus. Amenities include an on-site gym, pool, hot-tub, sauna, study lounge and cold plunge area for residents. With a monthly rent ranging from $1,080-$2,100, there is no shortage of grandeur living. 

An apartment in Madison that is deemed both inhabitable and “affordable” is no longer feasible. Common student apartment complexes such as The Embassy or Equinox start prices at $1,200 and $1,365 for a one-bedroom apartment, respectively. 

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The number of freshmen who are currently enrolled at the UW-Madison fell by 7.8% compared to the 2022-23 academic year, according to university officials. But the decrease in first-year students has not affected the rent price surge. 

The competition between students to sign a lease for an apartment first has gotten out of hand. Last fall, potential residents waited hours in line for housing options that were deemed “affordable.” Due to students likely signing their leases in early October, they’re faced with the decision to forgo stylish housing at an astronomical price for something more affordable, outdated or not well-maintained. 

Wisconsin has no cap on how much a tenant’s rent can be increased, with an exception for individuals living in income-restricted housing. A Wisconsin state statute also limits local governments from putting caps on rent, limiting local power to regulate housing price increases. 

Whether you reside in the heart of downtown, on-campus or 30 minutes away, living in Madison is becoming increasingly unaffordable. 

Will the university step up to address the housing crisis UW-Madison students are living through? The yearly apartment olympics has no shortage of competitors, with each year increasing the burden that falls on students. 

Hana is a junior studying Journalism and Strategic Communication. Do you believe that rent for off-campus apartments has become too high? Send all comments to

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