It’s hardly breaking news that young adults are living at home longer.
Of course there are exceptions, but it appears that the idea of leaving the nest immediately following college graduation is long gone.
The current economy makes establishing financial independence a difficult feat. From a sociological perspective, extended mooching off Mom and Dad seems to be trending. Many young adults either are saving the money they do have, basking in domestic convenience, or simply waiting for the right living opportunity.
Overall, it seems they’re just not ready to take the next step.
A 2010 article in the New York Times Magazine features insight from Jeffrey Jensent Arnett, a psychology professor at Clark University. Arnett deems the 20s as a stage called “emerging adulthood.” He points to cultural shifts that led to the creation of this new phase of life: young people feeling less rushed to marry because of the acceptance of premarital sex; young women delaying pregnancy due to more career options and reproductive technology; the need for additional education in our information-based economy; and fewer entry-level jobs available after all those years of schooling.
“Approximately 51 million Americans live in multigenerational households,” stated a May 2012 article in Forbes.
“Twenty-nine percent of 25-34 year-olds have taken shelter Chez Mom and Dad during the Great Recession and with almost 80% satisfied with this arrangement, the impetus to get their own pad ASAP just isn’t there.”
According to the Forbes piece, moving out has become a phenomenon that needs to be approached with caution. Alice Karekezi, a writer for Salon, asserts that living at home longer is now viewed as a practical choice.
“Now to become a qualified professional, many middle-class American kids are going to have to spend many years in completely unpaid internships,” Karekezi said. “So they finish college, or in the course of going to college, they spend years upon years working in jobs that used to pay money and don’t anymore because this market is so crowded. You’ve got to live some place. So in households that can afford it, parents are making it possible for their kids to gather credentials that will allow them someday — they hope — to launch at the level they’re expecting.”
However, since 50 percent of college grads are unemployed or underemployed, a change may not be on the horizon in the near future.
A June 2012 article in the New York Post cites 20-somethings who are still living at home, even if they’re capable of striking out on their own. Jason Siegel graduated from LaFayette College a couple of years ago and was able to secure a job in Manhattan starting at $50,000. Although he’s well employed (and has a serious girlfriend, who could be a potential roommate), he still chooses to stay where he is. “I didn’t want to start a new job and move at the same time,” he said. “It was too much transition, two huge changes at once.”
Convenience appears to be an additional rationale for not running out the door as readily. Another “gainfully employed” 23-year-old told the Post that living at home simply spawned a higher quality of life. “I can travel without worrying about money. I can go out to not the cheapest dinners often. I don’t have to think, ‘Is this dinner next week’s rent?’”
Living at home longer seems to be a sociological trend within “emerging adulthood,” as well as a byproduct of our times and how the Gen Y’s are coping with its unpredictability. To put a positive spin on the pattern, I’ll even say this 20-something generation is patient. It takes patience to achieve financial independence and patience to create a well-thought-out plan before leaving.
In “Occupy Mom and Dad’s House,” personal trainer Amanda Shugar stated that she’s been mentally preparing herself for moving out. “It’s a scary thing,” she said.
It is indeed, especially when all the pieces haven’t fallen into place just yet.
Young woman at home photo available from Shutterstock