[…] Investors and developers sizing up the potential for new student housing projects in central and eastern Europe believe there will be many more foreign students just like Savvas willing to pay extra for their creature comforts.

That’s why the company behind the new residence in Wroclaw which has a gym, private kitchens and big-screen TV in the communal area, is planning to quadruple the number of student housing projects it runs in the next two to three years. Central Europe’s old world charm and tradition-steeped universities are increasingly attracting international students eager to study in English-language degree programmes for a fraction of the cost back home.

It’s also creating a housing crunch with many older dormitories filled to capacity and students snapping up rooms in private residences such as the nearly 500-bed residence in Wroclaw, which opened in September. […]

In Poland, the region’s biggest country and largest economy, the number of international students has surged more than four-fold to almost 57,000 in the past nine years, according to government statistics compiled by BONARD (formerly StudentMarketing).

For investors it’s simple economics. More students and not enough beds in cities where development costs are lower than in western Europe means higher yields on new projects than in more mature western European student housing markets.

“Central and eastern Europe is on the radar of those big investors who have established their presence in western Europe and it is a natural next move for them,” said Stefan Kolibar, head of marketing at StudentMarketing, an independent research company focussed on student housing data.

“The region is even more under supplied with not as much volume,” he said. Kolibar said the percentage of private beds to international students was 5 percent in Prague, 1 percent in Warsaw, 9 percent in Wroclaw and 13 percent in Budapest compared to 16 percent in Barcelona, 55 percent in Amsterdam and 30 percent in Dublin. […]

In Prague, enrolment in the Erasmus program at Charles University has surged from less than 200 at the turn of the century to nearly 2,000 today, said Beata Tomeckova, who coordinates student housing.

Average monthly rent for a single room in private student residences is 299 euros in Prague, 238 euros in Budapest and 176 euros in Warsaw, according to data compiled by BONARD (formerly StudentMarketing). That compares with an average 627 euros in Barcelona, 760 euros in Milan and 870 euros in Dublin. “We have an increasing number of students but there are limits and some students may not get a place in the dormitories,” Tomeckova said. […]

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