I remember it well: The thrill of graduating from college, getting my first "career" job and, highlight of highlights, moving out of my parent's house in the suburbs and into a one-bedroom apartment in The City with my best friend as a roommate.
A generation later, our kids graduated from college and did things a little differently. They had the thrill of independence by moving around the country, taking non-career jobs and living in group homes with an assortment of roommates. They eventually figured out what they wanted to do with their lives. But they never lived in our house again.
Another generation later, reports tell us, the kids aren't into the kick of independence. A good number of them aren't moving into their own apartments or taking a share of a room in a group house in a city in another part of the country: They're living at home with their parents--even if they have "career" jobs that pay well. They're doing this while they calculate how much in savings it will take for them to achieve their personal and financial goals. Those goals may not include living independently right now.
It's a trend that's been noticed by the NYTimes. Here's the newspaper's observation/explanation for the phenomenon:
Young adults are often encouraged to leave the nest as a rite of passage to establish financial independence and build a life and career away from their parents. But for some members of Generation Z and younger millennials, factors like the high cost of living, student debt, family obligations or cultural traditions keep them living at home for longer than expected. The pandemic and its resulting economic downturn also forced many young adults to move back in with their parents.
A Pew Research Center survey this past summer gives the rising trend a numerical perspective.
In July 2022, half of adults ages 18 to 29 were living with one or both of their parents. This was down from a recent peak of 52% in June 2020 but still significantly higher than the share who were living with their parents in 2010 (44% on average that year) or 2000 (38% on average).
Many of us are waiting for our adult kids to move on and out, but generation Z seems to see the world as more perilous and less financially sound than we did. And they're not going anywhere for now. The thrill is gone.
painting: Edward Hopper