In the comedy series “All in The Family,” Mike Stivic and his wife, Gloria, lived with her parents, Archie and Edith Bunker, for several long years while Mike attended college. The plot device of having two generations living together created the structure by which frequent conflicts emerged between the parents and the “children” and highlighted the acrimony that, at times, result in such a situation.
A more recent depiction of intergenerational strife caused by living under the same roof is Jennifer Close’s novel “The Smart One.” A quashed engagement, unfulfilling work, and overwhelming financial concerns force a daughter to live with her parents again to get her life back on track. Her older sister also lives with them due to past troubles in her life. A brother and his lover soon join them. The novel not only depicts the conflicts between the two generations but also demonstrates the discord arising between the older couple that results from the full household.
Providing a child with an education capable of successfully launching the child from the family homestead is every parent’s goal and objective. Still, some adult children return home for a variety of reasons, and some may never leave. Setting aside those situations that would require professional counseling to resolve, this article discusses those circumstances where a child voluntarily lives in a parental home.
“Boomerang kids” is a relatively recent social development and is prevalent among so-called millennials, children of baby-boomers. Differing opinions see them as either gadget-plagued whiners who obsess about being mentored at work or an innovative generation that is constrained financially by a tight job market and saddled with student loans and high rents. Both are having a difficult time realizing the American Dream. I would guess that millennials see themselves as the latter.
But are the financial conditions under which millennials find themselves much different than their parents?
Baby boomers faced sparse job prospects when unemployment hit 10% in the early 1980s and hovered around 8% for four years. The unemployment rate for the past five years has not exceeded 5%, permitting those who desire to work to work.
As to the affordability of a home, millennials have it better than the boomers, according to researchers. If they can afford a home, millennials are spending a smaller percentage of their income on homeownership than boomers did at the same age.
The one area where millennials are worse off than boomers is the cost of higher education. The cost of going to college has increased at a rapid rate, and unfortunately, wage growth has not kept pace. This leaves millennials with the most expensive period over the past fifty years for attending college. Many millennials finance their education with student loans, a burden that they carry well after graduation, and for which they need to sacrifice other lifestyle choices to support themselves. Boomers, on the other hand, were able to work their way through college with little or no debt. This feat is practically impossible today, given the explosive growth in the cost of a college education.
The bottom line, it seems to me that millennials are not living with their parents as their first choice but resign themselves to do so as a financial leg up to start their new lives.
There is a lot of talk in the political arena about student debt because it is becoming the norm for that much debt to be the refuse on the launch pad preventing successful takeoffs.
– Joe from Arizona, a FAR customer who is finding purpose in this new stage of his life.
* The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Finance of America Reverse (LLC).