Trading convenience: Living along Taft Avenue

For a lot of students, venturing into college means more than just graduating from high school and engaging in a higher form of education.

Independence is one factor that is brought up every time college rolls around, especially for those who sacrifice home to be closer to school. Thus, independence on the most basic level is easily understood to be living alone away from home—and rightfully so, as this has become a frequent option for several students to choose to live in dormitories or condominiums close to the University. This is evident more so than ever now, with an abundance of buildings sprouting along the University belt that is Taft Avenue.

Students opt to rent or purchase their own units around the perimeter for various personal reasons.  But the main reason that stands is the hope of trading the convenience of traveling to be in familiar surroundings at the end of each day, for the convenience of being a few steps away from school. This situation is true most especially since it is acknowledged that Lasallians come from different provinces, far-flung or otherwise, around the country while the rest hail from Metro Manila.

Home along Taft Avenue

Jaime Acayan, a Marketing Consultant at EGI Taft Tower, estimates that for freshmen homeowners, around 70 percent come from provinces while the remaining 30 percent come from the Manila area. He admits that the bulk of inquiries and those who show interest to stay in EGI Taft Tower are those coming from the province, as their need for a living space is more immediate. 

The same is not the case by the middle of the year since more students, usually upperclassmen, start to come in because factors such as heavy traffic jams and the seasonal flooding, both of which Taft Avenue is infamous for, can very much lead to difficulties in traveling to and from the University.

Paulina Kitane, a landlady at Maryville Dormitory agrees, stating that some parents opt for their children to stay near the University because come rainy season, it becomes troublesome to commute from the school, especially since Taft Avenue is known to flood within a few hours of heavy rain. According to Kitane, parents also share that there are cases wherein their child gets stranded near the University and would need a place to stay for the night. “That’s why they choose to rent living spaces near the school—for convenience,” she says in Filipino.

Students express that living in dormitories or condominium units close to the University have differing effects on them. On the one hand, they are able to come and go inside the premises of the University as much as they please with the luxury of not having to travel far lengths. Students also reason out that the lesser time they spend in commuting to and from the University means having more time dedicated for academics and extracurricular activities.

“Moving into a condo right in front of DLSU lets me reserve more of my energy to study and focus more on my school work since I’m not exhausted from commuting every day,” Morgan Tomelden (II, LGL) shares.

Jerome Alvarez (IV, BSA) shares living in Providence Tower along Leon Guinto allows him to do whatever he wants with his friends. He defends that the liberty that comes with living alone has trained him to be more responsible for his time. “You’ll become more independent and will meet a variety of people, which could both hone and test your self-discipline,” he adds.

On the other hand, there are others who still choose to live within the comfort of their homes, reasoning that staying in a unit near the University would amount to greater accumulated expenses compared to staying at home.

Ea Francisco (II, ISE-LGL) explains her view on renting a space by noting the possible added expenses. She shares that practicality weighed more than the convenience she would get if she stayed closer to school. Although she has thought about the advantages of living near the University, she would rather travel by bus every day, as she would end up saving more money.

Alvarez also mentions some of disadvantages of opting to rent a condominium unit near DLSU. He agrees with Francisco that living along Taft Ave. would entail additional expenses on top of the already expensive tuition fee of the University relative to other colleges. He highlights unhealthy food intake and exposure to vices such as drinking and smoking because of peer pressure as two of the expected trade-offs of living in condominiums or dormitories.

Infographic by Micah Coronel & Giselle Que

Opportunity Costs

Presently, there have yet to be much study conducted on the relationship of living in proximity to the University and its effects on a student’s academic performance. There is, however, a record of a comparative study conducted by AB Humanities students back in 1998, which compared the lifestyles of Liberal Arts students who regularly commuted and who stayed in a dormitory.

The tests involved assessing the groups’ reactions to various forms of distractions and the coping mechanisms they applied. The results of the study showed that those who commuted to school fared better and had shown to have better study habits compared to those who did not commute.

Alvarez defends that he prefers living near the campus over going home every day since he gets to focus more on his studies when he’s alone. He adds that living alone gives him a glimpse of what to expect after graduating like paying for rent and for all utilities. Alvarez is a consistent Dean’s List awardee. 

There was also a study conducted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology on the geographical proximity of students attending secondary school and its impact on graduation rates. The research showed that there was a positive effect on a student’s odds of graduating if they spend a shorter amount of time traveling to school.

Suiting the lifestyle

Lara Bacani, a leasing manager at the most recent establishment across the University, Torre 2, shares that most investors who know the market are keen on securing condominium units because they know they are capable of generating income due to the presence of students who are in search of available units to rent. Investors need not be parents, although she shares that most of those who do invest see having children who are currently studying at the University as a venture opportunity. 

Outside of this, however, there are parents whose primary concern is the safety of their children, along with convenience, which ultimately becomes the deciding factor. Edith de Dios, whose sons are enrolled at DLSU, admits that she also considered the risks her sons encountering bad blood while commuting to and from their house before deciding whether to allow her children to stay in a condominium near the campus. 

“If they will be exposed to the same security threats whether they stay at a condominium unit or they go home every day, I prefer to let them stay near DLSU so they would be able to conserve their energy meant for schoolwork,” de Dios ends.

Knowing that their target market are students, regardless of where they may be coming from, these residential establishments have made a conscious effort to cater to the needs of their market. Acayan shares that location is a primary feature that makes or breaks the decisions of those looking into renting out. In the case of EGI, it stands the closest to the University and is also one of the more affordable options, which he says is equally important. Renting units to food establishments is also their priority, since they acknowledge that students will need to fend for themselves while they live along Taft Avenue.

Bacani agrees, saying that the amenities provided are added features that will make students’ boarding more comfortable. At Torre 2, a swimming pool, a gym, and study halls are provided for their residents’ use. Bacani acknowledges that these units are treated like more of a halfway house than a permanent residence for most students, which is why the building’s management has devised a system for the water and electricity consumption so that accumulations on bills can be avoided. Schemes to suit the kind of lifestyle their residents adapt to once away from home are part of what these establishments hope to offer after knowing their target market’s needs.

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