The NY Times just published a lengthy piece on the increasing number of “boomerang kids” – the young adults who have moved back home to live with their parents, many for years. These young adults talk about how they can save money on rent while they make career and life plans. They also talk about the recession and how hard it was for the brief time they lived on their own- according to many, it was almost impossible to make ends meet. They felt they were at a dead-end and moving home would give them freedom to make some changes. Some also admit that they like the safety net of their parents’ home- and have fears about going out on their own.
One in five people in their 20’s and early 30’ live at home (home of origin). For their parents’ generation it was one in 10. The costs of a college degree, escalating housing prices and a high unemployment rate are mostly to blame. Yes, earlier generations had their challenges too- it just seems like a perfect storm happened for this age group and their challenges are greater for living independently.
Some experts believe this is temporary and that as the employment picture brightens and loans get paid down/costs come under greater control- more young people will decide they want to be on their own. However, many others believe this is a new trend and that we could be going back to a time when young adults lived at home until they were older and/or married. If “home” is too comfortable, they will stay- and it appears that these kids raised by helicopter parents see many positives to living with the parents.
This coupled with the economic reality of more people who are unemployed, underemployed, earning less, and paying higher taxes- and even having a college degree will not guarantee financial and job security.
Much has been written about how this will impact the larger economy, especially down the road- but what about its impact on this generation’s ability to build relationships, marry and start families? The mean age of first marriage continues to climb and many people are delaying having children till they are older due to financial concerns and social changes. Often they opt to live together first, or decide to have children and skip the marriage part. These decisions have consequences that we may not even fully see yet. Now add to this the number of young people living with their parents. The challenges to growing a relationship- privacy, independence and autonomy, the experience of living independently and handling one’s own finances and household/lifestyle responsibilities would all be absent from the person’s experience. Should they want to date someone living on their own, this could lead to issues for that person who is handling their responsibilities and paying their own bills. It would also be difficult to make such a big decision and make the move to an independent life straight from Mom and Dad’s nest. Therefore, it would be too easy to stay comfortably in place, while time marches on and the years pass.