With millennials now the largest generation in the United States, a look into their economic standing is warranted. Using New York City as a proxy, we learn that millennials are now making 20% less than the generation before them, and have incurred tens of billions in student loan debt. Faced with these facts, they are searching for ways to cut down on expenses in order to make ends meet, and one common sense way to do that is to move back in with mom and dad.
The Chicago Tribune helps us understand how all of that is working out. To start, more than 20 percent of millennials are living with their parents, even after obtaining a college degree. Even if some are fortunate to move out, often times they boomerang back to their parents' home by age 27.
As such, stories such as the one from 34 year old Meghan Kennihan are becoming the norm, even in today's economic "recovery".
"I had an apartment in Chicago," said Meghan Kennihan, 34, a running coach and personal trainer who lives in her folks' finished basement in La Grange. "It was tiny and expensive. I was miserable. I moved back. Now, I have a bedroom plus an area for my scrapbooking hobby and another for my exercise equipment. It's like having my own apartment except I have more space than I can afford to have in an apartment."
In order to move out on her own, Meghan cites the need for an employer who can help cover her health insurance, something all of these newly created waiter and bartender jobs aren't able to do.
"To be able to buy my own place, I would need to work for an employer that would cover insurance for me"
Not only is there more space, but the price is right. Millennials have been able to save on rent, and are just trying to chip in other ways around the house where possible, as 24 year old Dean Pearce explains.
"My parents have done so much for me, and now they're letting me live here rent-free, so I try to help out. I pick up my sister from school, do the dishes or whatever chore needs to be done. My mom makes dinner. We all work as a team."
As a matter of fact, the trend of kids living at home with their parents has gotten so strong that home builders are now designing homes with just that in mind. "One out of six buyers have or plan to have a grown child at home" said Richard Bridges, Chicago division sales manager at David Weekly Homes. For a mere $35,000-plus, Richard says the plan can include a bedroom/bathroom suite in a finished basement to accommodate the kids who inevitably will be returning home to live.
Chicago area builder PulteGroup says in their new models, kids can enjoy a bedroom/bathroom suite with a kitchenette and separate living space. "Our NexGen option is the greatest in housing since indoor plumbing." said Jeff Roos, western regional president at Lennar Corp.
In summary, it looks like things are going well for kids who are moving back home, all things considered. Rent is affordable, and now parents are even taking it upon themselves to buy houses that have the look and feel of one's own personal apartment for their children to return home to someday. It is safe to say that this is quickly becoming the new American Dream for current and future generations.
The likelihood of this trend reversing course any time soon? Not likely. As Lennar Corp's Jeff Roos points out:
"It could be a while before the millennial makes enough money to leave"