Better Than a Dorm Room: Students Rent McMansions in California

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The St. Mary students who were temporarily moved to a cruise ship while their dorm rooms were cleared of mold probably think they have it pretty good. Just don’t tell them about what’s going on at the University of California, Merced — where students are living in mansions, complete with chandeliers and jacuzzis. And it’s actually cheaper than living on campus.

It’s a recession-era story if we’ve ever heard one — the area was overbuilt during the real estate boom, and now dozens (if not hundreds) of McMansions sit empty in overdeveloped subdivisions. At the same time, the school grew more quickly than dorm space did; UC Merced has 5200 students, but dorm space for only 1600. Enterprising students looked at these two facts and figured… why not? And so these days five students renting a swanky five-bedroom house pay around $200 to $350 each for the privilege of enjoying pool tables and granite countertops.

Which, of course, irks the neighbors who bought full-price houses, expecting “an edge-of-town, Desperate Housewifey community,” and instead found themselves underwater on their mortgages — and living next to the new Kappa Kappa Gamma party house.



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