It’s harder than it used to be to find a home here, but it’s not impossible
Whether it’s a two-floor condo or a sprawling house, a roomy apartment or a humble studio, Chico has a home for just about everyone.
And while off-campus housing is relatively easy to come by these days, the rental housing market in Chico is far tighter than it used to be. The university’s enrollment dipped to fewer than 14,000 students in the early and mid 㥢s, causing housing prices to drop to almost unheard-of levels. Back then, for example, you could rent a four-bedroom duplex with free cable and a washer and dryer for $800.
“We were practically giving away the places,” said Action Property Management owner Steve Johnson. “We gave away TVs, cable . . . a lot of extras for anyone signing a lease.”
Those days are over now, though. The university’s enrollment is topping 16,000 now and is expected to grow. And in a town like Chico, where more than half of the rental market caters to student tenants, that’s bound to drive costs up.
That roomy four-bedroom condo that rented for $800 10 years ago, for example, would likely rent for about $1,300 now.
Johnson said the average monthly rent for a student living off-campus is about $250.
And that, he said, is still a good deal.
“You look at housing prices in big cities and in some other college areas, and you won’t find rents for anything near that,” Johnson said.
Action Property Management, which manages about 650 properties, is one of Chico’s smaller management companies. The “Big Three”—Sheraton Real Estate Management, RSC Properties, and Hignell & Hignell—each manages at least 1,500 properties, Johnson said.
Because university enrollment is up, students looking for off-campus housing will have their best chance of finding a home if they start early. Most student leases are for one year and are geared toward the university’s school year. This means that they start in the early summer (usually June 1) and end a year later.
Most students start looking for housing in March, and sometimes earlier. More than 90 percent of the students who live off-campus live within a half-mile of the university, on the north and south sides. These houses and apartments (with location, location, location) generally are the hardest to get.
Most rental companies take applications on a first-come, first-served basis. Most require that students provide a cosigner (read: a responsible parent who will pay the rent) to sign the lease along with the residents.
And while it may seem like a lengthy and time-consuming process, Johnson said most students find housing and have a lease signed within a week or so of starting their search.
“It’s really not so bad,” Johnson said. “We rent to everyone. There’s a home here for almost everyone who looks for one.”
Looking for a home? Here are Chico’s property management companies:
AAA Properties: 895-3500
Action Property Management: 891-5101
Alliance Property Management: 899-1602
Dan Brown Property Management: 893-0101
Chico Oaks Realty: 896-1941
College Property Management: 893-4709
DanMar Management & Maintenance: 893-8047
David M. Hector Investment Real Estate: 893-5533
Equity Company: 343-3307
Everett Enterprises: 891-1729
Hignell & Hignell: 894-0404
Mid Valley Realty & Property Management: 895-8102
Phoenix Property Management: 897-0855
Reliable Property Management: 895-1733
Sheraton Real Estate Management: 342-2214