From July 2020, over half of Americans aged 18 to 29 lived with at least one parent, guardian, or relative. This information was, of course, record-breaking since this was at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. But with the tedious housing market, the fight for higher wages, and the declining economy that followed, how are people in their 20s moving out and surviving this difficult time?
To be in your 20s during the pandemic was hard enough, but the financial aftermath has been brutal. Unfortunately, COVID-19 brought an economic crisis that has majorly affected the future line of adults: millennials and Gen Z.
It started with the ‘Great Job Resignation’ that began due to COVID’s dire circumstances. The initial trigger was that younger workers were the first to be let go, initiating the rush of young adults moving back home. Pew Research Center reported that this rush translated to 52% of young adults up to age 29 lived with a parent or family relative. This increase was expected due to the quarantine and unemployment rate, but it hasn’t improved since.
When it comes to affordable living, the rent prices have skyrocketed since 2018. In addition, rentals are also scarce due to a lack of housing supply and weakened demand. This unfortunate combination has made it almost impossible for young adults to move out of their parents’ home. The costs associated with finding affordable housing often go beyond just rent, adding up even more as people look for affordable long-distance moving companies, utility setup fees, deposits, etc.
The second trigger of the Great Job Resignation was the brutal realization that followed for so many unemployed individuals. Many had difficulty returning to the workforce since the number of well-paying jobs steadily dropped. Eventually, workers realized their labor was not worth it for wages that barely covered their expenses.
This only became more prevalent as rents around the country began to skyrocket. Redfin reports that rent has increased over 13% around the U.S., with some major cities seeing a jump of 30%. Yet, this is simply housing alone. Fortune states that American inflation rates have risen to 9.1% this year, exceeding the acceptable 2% rate policymakers usually expect. Grocery bills have also spiked by over 12%, making the entire list of household expenses increase way quicker than we realized.
Overall, these factors significantly affect young adults and their abilities to become financially independent. With the recession in sight, how do we expect young adults to develop into the next generation of working individuals?
Moving Out Statistics as of 2022
Landlords and financial experts alike advise your income to be at least three times your monthly rent payment. However, this is an issue when wages haven’t increased nearly as much as rent over the last decades.
Since the minimum wage has not caught up to the renting market, more workers find getting a bachelor’s degree necessary to afford the cost of living.
Pew conducted another study of where young adults are living in 2022. Again, the center found ‘multigenerational homes’ – homes with a grandparent, parents, children, and possibly other family relatives – the most popular.
These graphs find that 1 in 4 young adults live at least with one parent, and 1 in 3 adults with no bachelor’s degree aged 25-34 live in a multigenerational home. Now, compare this to 1 in 10 young adults living at home in 1971.
If higher education is necessary in 2022 to live independently, it is no wonder young adults are having a tough time moving out. From 18-year-olds just starting their education to those in their early 30s working full-time, this generation feels the effects of inflation and the housing crisis.
Stories From You
I had the pleasure of surveying young individuals in their 20s through 30s to hear about their stories and struggles. I asked about their living situation, their financial journies, and their plans as a whole. These surveys and the quotes below conclude that housing inflation is undeniably the most consistent factor affecting abilities and decisions to live independently.
South Florida’s rising rent has made it extremely difficult to live on my own, even with my pay raises at work. For now, moving back in with my parents is the best solution to live comfortably, work through debt, and save money for my future home.Kyle, 23, Florida
While my field of work doesn’t require a college degree, I am financially stable enough to move; the current housing market is just not worth renting and leaving my parents home. I’m grateful for my understanding parents and with them, I can truly enjoy my 20s: traveling, working, and saving my money for future life investments.Bella, 20, New York
I worked as a highschool teacher but was unable to live independently. Even now at my new job and part-time school, I was lucky enough to find an apartment cheap enough to live with my new salary. But at my new workplace, I meet people that continue struggling to find affordable places to live that are near work or simply suitable for their needs. People have to sacrifice a variety of things nowadays to move out and make it by.Anonymous, 29, Florida
Whether it be not enough money or a personal decision to not spend hard-earned money, commentators see their wages and can’t justify the high cost of housing. Young people nowadays are left with few opportunities to thrive with tight budgets and the rising costs of everything.
Outside The U.S.
Like Americans, the rest of the world felt the pandemic’s economic effects. There are young adults in other parts of the world who don’t move out due to culture, but others struggle with the same financial issues holding Americans back. This difficult time has indeed affected an entire generation across all borders and in various ways.
I’ve been on the job hunt since my Master’s degree graduation in December. Since then, I have been working a part-time job that barely covers any of my bills, so my parents provide financial support during these hard times. However, with the stagnant wages, high cost of living, plus inflation, it’s frustrating to know that even with the new job, I probably will continue to struggle covering all of my living expenses. And this is common amongst my friend group in their mid to late 20s with Master’s degrees. Almost none of us can consider buying property any time soon.Anonymous, 24, Paris
I was working 40 hours a week at minimum wage, which is $15, but struggled tremendously to get by. I eventually had to move back in with my mom because finding a 1 bedroom apartment in Edmonton is difficult and expensive. We used to be able to rent a 2 bedroom place for $500-700, but now 1 bedroom places go for around $1400. As a person working full-time, I would expect to not be living paycheck to paycheck, but inflation and housing now makes that more and more common.Claire, 20, Canada
These stories and the shocking number of young adults struggling to achieve their independent space prove that the economy’s post-pandemic state is becoming harder to navigate as a growing individual.
But no rush leaving home if you’re not ready or can’t quite yet. This is just concerning as more young adults get stuck between low wages and high living costs, thus leaving them financially dependent on their families. And we’re just talking about young adults living basic lives with minimal responsibility; imagine the struggle of those also financially responsible for family members or children of their own.
The economy’s future is unknown, but for young adults today, the future of moving out and financial independence seems to be getting farther and farther away.