The Real Reason Why So Many Millennials Are Living at Home

millennials living at home

Millennials are blazing the path to a new way of a life. They are adapting to a different mindset compared to past generations, and are often defying the predictions of researchers.

The typical American lifestyle is being turned on its head. With this generation reaching adulthood, it was assumed that the next logical step would be to buy a home and start a family. After all, that’s the “American Dream,” right? Yet, most millennials are putting marriage and children on hold, and many are actually finding it’s in their best interests to keep living at home.

Over one third of Americans between 18-34 years old are living in their parents’ house. Society as a whole is being affected by this living situation, so they want to know why? Why are millennials seeking comfort under the roofs of their childhood homes?

As we will see, the answer may lie in millennials’ newfound beliefs and values, different economic circumstances, and even their unique upbringing.

Change in status quo

Modern society is witnessing a complete shift in young adult behavior, change a status quo that has defined what’s “normal” for decades. Following are just three examples of lifestyle changes common to the millennial generation that may help explain why so many are still living at home.

What they value

What does it mean to be an adult? For past generations, important rites of passage included marriage, buying a house, and having kids. Yet, for many millennials, educational and economic achievements are the true milestones. Rather than viewing becoming a “provider” as key to maturity, their journey to adulthood hinges on personal accomplishments. Millennials are intrinsically driven to get that college education, jumpstart their careers, and achieve financial stability. Then, once they’ve become personally established, pursuing a family may come into play. With this reassignment of values, living at home is the ideal option because it keeps expenses and home responsibilities light while priorities are elsewhere.

Age of marriage

In 1985, the average ages for an American man and a woman to wed were 25.5 and 23.3 respectively. In 2016, only 20% of Americans between the ages of 18-30 were married. This eyebrow-raising statistic clearly sheds light on millennials’ reluctance to jump into matrimony. This delay in walking down the aisle is yet another reason why many millennials are living in their parents’ house. Marriage and buying a house often go hand in hand. So, with so many young adults focusing on pursuits other than marriage, staying with Mom and Dad is a simple and inexpensive alternative. 

Delay in having children

In the U.S., women earn the majority of bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees. Understandably, most of these dedicated young women have chosen to remain childless while pursuing educational and career goals. With the average age of first pregnancy rising from 24.9 in the early 2000’s to 26.3 in 2016, this is another life event that is feeling the push. Yet again, the best living situation is to stay at home, especially while still being in school.     

The fault of the economy

Whether it’s the current state of the economy or the backlash of a crisis years earlier, the economy plays a key part in shaping millennials’ behavior. They have adapted to a cautious and calculated approach when faced with life decisions.

The burden of student loans

The cumulative student debt in the U.S. has reached an all-time high of $1.3 trillion. This staggering number helps explain why millennials’ disposable income is being poured into paying back the banks instead of into the housing market. Living at home permits millennials to avoid additional risk and expense associated with buying and maintaining a home, allowing them to build up their own nest egg.

Backlash from the recession

Even though the recession seems to have happened eons ago, millennials are still feeling the heat. Financial habits and attitudes about saving, spending, and managing money have all been influenced by the 2008 crisis. In fact, 78 percent of millennials admit that the recession had an influence on their decision not to buy real estate. Their risk-averse behavior is a huge contributing factor to why they only want to buy a house (and move out of Mom and Dad’s place) once they feel financially secure.

How they were raised  

The famous idiom states that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but, what if the opposite is actually true? Parents belonging to different age brackets are interestingly raising their children differently than they once were. This, in turn, has molded millennials in a new way.

Helicopter parenting

A term often used in discussing millennial upbringing is “helicopter parenting”. The phrase describes parents who “hover” over their children, in a constant state of readiness to swoop down and save them at a moment’s notice. This protective stance may explain a lot about the millennial generation. Perhaps the large number of young adults living at home is just another result of helicopter parenting and the sense of security and reliance it engenders.

Wanting to provide a different life

Being part of different generational demographic, parents of millennials experienced a whole different upbringing. Baby Boomers, for example, were taught to be work-centric, independent and competitive. All these traits led to a more conservative and career-oriented lifestyle. However, many parents who were brought up that way are teaching their own children the opposite: Instead of pushing them to get a well-paid job, it’s now more common to encourage a well-loved job. With almost a third of college students changing majors within their three year program, parents are clearly supporting the “follow your heart wherever it may go” ideology. Among other things, this change in parenting tells millennials it’s okay to live at home.

What this all means

Let’s paint the whole picture now. Millennials were brought up in an unconventional manner, shaped by unique economic conditions and embracing a lifestyle very different from their parents and grandparents. With all these factors in effect, the reason millennials are still living at home could simply be because it strategically fits in with society’s current norm. As researcher Derrick Feldmann suggests, “It’s not a reflection on the millennials; it’s a reflection of where we are as a society.”



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