Forget cramped dorm rooms and shared bathrooms. In recession-ravaged Merced, Calif., college students are moving off campus and into depreciated McMansions. A new university that opened in 2005 fueled a building boom, but when the crash hit in 2008, many luxury homes were left empty. Now, packs of college kids are pooling their cash and moving in, with each student paying as little as $200 to enjoy Jacuzzi tubs, granite countertops, and three-car garages. "I think they're the luckiest students I've ever come across," says one bitter homeowner, who has a mortgage payment several times the rent of his collegiate neighbors.
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