Living in Morgantown is Expensive

Morgantown, W.Va. may be a prime location to build your career, but be prepared to dish out your hard-earned cash on the city’s high cost of living.

According to a study by the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research in May 2013, the cost of living in Morgantown, W.Va. is three percent higher than the national average. This is due to none other than sky-high (and continuously rising) housing costs. To be more precise, housing cost is the only factor that makes Morgantown more expensive to live in than Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Tampa, Fla. — nearly 15 percent higher. Researchers found the cost of groceries, utilities, and health care are cheaper compared to other cities, according to WDTV.

A recent Daily Athenaeum article provided insight from both students and landlords on the issue. WVU students believe that these high prices are due to the high demand for convenient location and the increasing population of both WVU and the city of Morgantown as a whole.

“Even though utilities will be included, I think the rise in price has to deal with the fact that my apartment is located so close to the Downtown Campus. Apartment buildings downtown can get away with raising prices because they know students would rather have the convenience at living close to their classes rather than having to drive,” said WVU student Victoria Licata.

According to Rick Biafora, co-owner of Metro Properties, LLC, the significant property tax increase in 2012 is partly to blame.

“Property taxes went up significantly,” Biafora said. “There are increased everyday costs associated with labor to operate. Increased health care costs, increased year-to-year expenses have gone up, and people are starting to calculate these prices.”

…but housing prices in Morgantown have been rising since 2006. Is there any solution?

A Comprehensive Housing Study In The Greater Morgantown, West Virginia Area was conducted in 2011 with a five year (2011-2016) outlook. The document states the obstacles to affordable living are typical to medium-sized cities like Morgantown, and it is not for a lack of trying from the public and private sectors. Instead, it is due to a lack of resources.

The study provides three potential solutions to combat the rising cost of housing over the next couple years:

  1. Production Solutions: Local government can assist with removing impediments and streamlining the regulatory process in order to promote affordable housing. Suggested actions include: land donation, land banking, land trusts, building development capacity, inclusionary zoning, expediting permitting and revising impact fees.
  2.  Financial Solutions: An affordable housing project can be successful with the utilization of loans, grants, bond financing, tax incentives and utilization of non-profits/foundations.
  3. Cost to the Individual Solutions: Methodologies such as down payment assistance, closing costs, rental assistance, lease/purchase homes and addressing the affordability gap are designed to benefit the resident directly.

Morgantown’s population will continue to grow, and it’s time that something is done about the rising housing costs (six years later).


8 thoughts on “Living in Morgantown is Expensive

  1. I think this is an important post Maddi. I know plenty of people that pay outrageous rent prices for places you could never pay me to live in. It seems to be such an issue here in Morgantown especially with such a turnover of students every year. I would be interested to know if the local government plans to do anything about this issue for residents in regulating affordable housing. If the trend continues, Morgantown may lose residents and WVU could lose students in the process hurting Morgantown economically. There will always be people that pay astronomical prices, but I think it would be nice for local government to try and help regulate these prices for residents.

  2. Maddi-
    What I really like about this post is that you took a topic that is both common and widely-addressed by students and media, but gave (me at least) a new outlook. I don’t know why, but I never considered that Morgantown’s local government could (and should) be helping making this a more cost-efficient, attractive place for students’ to live. I have never lived off-campus, so I don’t have a lot of experience, but I have several friends that either A) live in really nice places, but pay heftily in rent or B) live in very sketchy, concerning apartments and houses for a more affordable price. I think your post did a great job of using outside sources to form your opinion, and I enjoyed reading it!

  3. This is a very well done post. It does a good job of incorporating a lot of key elements that make a post interesting. Good job linking to the DA article as well as including tweets about the issue. Having lived off-campus the past two years I can say that this is spot on. Last year, I was able to get a 10 month lease for very little. Now I’m on a 12 month lease paying a heck of a lot more. With the suggestions listed at the bottom, hopefully the city can resolve this issue shortly and help out students.

  4. Hi Maddi,

    This is a very timely post for me, as I’ll be entering the “post-graduation” world in May. This is bad to say, but I had never before considered the local government as an available solution to this problem, but now I see that there are things that can be done about the high rent prices. I think there are a lot of factors that are causing these high prices, and you did a nice job at explaining all of them, as well as offering some viable solutions for this issue. I’ve heard from several people that living in Morgantown outside of a “strictly college student complex” is expensive, and I would love to see one of these solutions in place before May when I become part of the population trying to figure out how I’m going to be able to afford it all!

  5. This is a really good post. You included a whole lot of information and I really like that you were able to compare Morgantown to other cities, especially ones much larger, in terms of how expensive it is to live here. I’ve often heard people complain about how expensive it is in Morgantown because of rent prices, but I had no idea that it was actually more expensive than much larger cities. Coming from the DC area, Morgantown still seems cheaper to me, but you did a great job of showing that the rent prices here are actually high.

  6. For realz doe, I’ve never lived in a place where rent goes up the longer you live here.

    I live in a crappy apartment FAR from campus (Campus Park at The Ridge), and it was the cheapest in town, which is why I moved in. Three years have passed, and while my rent has only gone up about $20, base rent for newcomers has gotten stupid. I’ve been tracking this for a while:

    Prices are for basic apartments. 4 bed 2 bath w/ laundry machines, furniture and appliances.

    2011: $350 per month
    2012: $390
    2013: $420-475 depending on signing time

    A rando moved into my apartment after my roommate graduated, and I’m pretty sure he’s paying $75 more for the exact same thing as me. I can’t wait to get out of here.

    It’s like gasoline – they know you need a place to live and they know you’ll pay anything to have it.

  7. Good finds. Probably the best service provided by this post is how you take the report and pull out the key points. Readers who want to read it can, thanks to your link, but those who just want to know the main ideas can get them from you. With this approach, you’re providing multiple levels of service, which is great.

    As a quibble, I’d tinker with that headline: “LIVING IN MORGANTOWN IS EXPENSIVE” is accurate, but the knee-jerk response is “Tell me something I DON’T know.” And you do! Just not in the headline. Try to sell what’s great about your article and you’ll bring in the readers who need it.

  8. Pingback: Morgantown Problems | Homelessness in Morgantown: Everyone’s Problem

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