By Chrissa Butler, Contributing Writer
Most high school students graduate with dreams of going out on their own. Whether it’s to college or starting in the work world – young adults can’t wait to try it on their own.
But the course to the American dream of independence is changing, at least for some.
A rising number of young adults are returning home to live with parents, reshaping what it means to be 20 something in our culture as the economy makes it more and more difficult to find a job and pay living expenses.
And, a rise in the median age of marriage leaves more young people grappling with finances on their own for a longer period of time.
Going back home seems to be the right answer for many.
Allison Thayer, 27, of Oswego, is now a Residence Hall Director at SUNY Oswego.
But to get that point, she took a detour after earning her BA.
A detour that took her back to her parents’ house in Claryville, NY.
Uninsured and saddled with more than $12,500 in medical bills after having an emergency surgery in the winter of 2006, Thayer graduated at age 21 in 2007, uncertain what to do next. She decided to move back in with her parents and took a secretarial job in a local law office.
“I had no job prospects…and I didn’t want to go back to working in the kitchen,” Thayer said. “I wasn’t able to pay off the medical expenses and rent an apartment, afford a car payment and cell phone bill.”
Determined to get on her feet financially, Thayer paid her bills and made plans to start graduate school the following year. Her parents welcomed her home and were supportive of her goals, even giving her the downstairs bedroom they once used so she could have her “own space.”
The experience also helped Thayer learn some valuable life skills.
“Although I still struggle financially at times, living at home and being very fiscally responsible (because I had to be), allowed me to be better prepared for ‘real world’ bills,” Thayer said. “Living at home after college also taught me how to pick and choose my battles.”
According to the Pew Research Center, in a study published on LiveScience.com, there has been significant growth in young adults living in a multigenerational home.
In 2010, 21.4% of those aged 25-34 lived in a such a situation, up from 11% in 1980.
That’s one out of five.
Another study, done by the National Endowment for Financial Education, showed that 40% of young adults who are not students aged 18-39 live or have recently lived at home.
Studies on this topic seem to vary with the actual numbers, but all have one major factor in common: this is a growing trend.
Jesse Cordero, 25, of Bronx, New York City, moved home in December 2008 after graduating from Oswego State with his Bachelor’s degree and hasn’t moved out yet.
“I chose to live at home because after I graduated I had no job or money. I was without work for three months so I needed to go back home,” Cordero said. “I think moving back home gave me the time I needed to find work. After that it has given me the time to save money and prepare to move out on my own. Now that I am getting married, it is very beneficial for me because I am able to pay a low portion of rent and still be able to save enough money for a new apartment.”
Currently a non-profit case manager, Cordero said his family has been happy to have him back. And it’s a move he feels more and more young adults are making.
“I actually read an article…that said New York has the fifth highest rate of students who return back home after college in the US,” Cordero said. “I think it has definitely become more common because there are just not enough jobs for students right out of school. I would recommend it for many students transitioning out of college.”
Rebecca Shreenan, 24, of Salem, NH, moved home after earning her undergraduate degree to save money while pursuing her Master’s Degree.
Her family was happy to have her.
Shreenan ended up staying at home only for about six months, and has since graduated, begun work and become engaged.
But it’s a move she would recommend to 20-somethings who need to save money.
“I have many friends who have moved back home and are still home now,” she said. “If someone has a need to move home and they don’t plan on it being forever, I would say yes, do it and get back on your feet. But have a reason and have a timeline.”
As the economy has struggled and the job market is tight, the stereotype of the lazy 20-something staying at home to avoid responsibility is changing.
“I have eliminated eight of my 11 loans and am almost done another,” said Caribeth Lira, 24, of Atkinson, NH. “It will help me in the future as I won’t be owing any money for student loans as they will be paid in full when I move out.”
Lira has been back home for two years.
“I choose to live at home because I want to save money and use all my income to pay off my loans. By living with my parents, I can focus on paying back my debt,” Lira explained.