Saturday, November 5, 2011

Single People are Ruining the Economy, Again

CNN posted an article yesterday about adult children moving back in with their parents and how this is negatively affecting the housing market. They report that 19% of males aged 25-34 live with their parents and 10% of females in the same age group live at home. (Side note: males aged 25-34 is my dating demographic, and apparently 1/5 still live at home. Should I be concerned?)

The article attributes adults living at home to unemployment. I disagree. I would attribute adults living at home to this demographic experiencing a lot of life uncertainty, a need for everyday life support and the general philosophy of, "Um, wow. This wasn't the plan. What do I do now?"

The plan was to go to college for four years, marry "The One", backpack through Europe for a summer, graduate, both get $40K jobs straight out of college, move to the suburbs, buy a house, experience domestic bliss for several years, shell out 2.5 kids, maybe get a dog, buy a mini-van, coach the soccer team, get a promotion or two, take family vacations to Yellowstone, etc.

But that didn't happen. For most, college took 5-6 years, "The One" married someone else, there's $20K-100K in student loans and $10K in credit card debt, the best job offer out of college was $30K/no health insurance in an area with a ridiculous cost of living, the crappy college roommate moved out with all your furniture and the car needs a new set of tires.

Um, yeah, you move back in with Mom & Dad! At this point, home ownership is the last thing on your mind. The article says, "The economy as a whole suffers when young adults fail to venture out on their own." This wouldn't be the first time single people have been blamed for all kinds of evils. But seriously CNN, how are just-out-of-college single people supposed to know where we want to establish ourselves, let alone have enough money for a down payment? Most of us are just starting out with our jobs, and we know we don't have the financial, professional and relational stability required to set up roots in a community and buy a home.

Buying a home is extremely expensive and requires a huge amount of work for care and upkeep. One can get roommates to help with the cost, but managing a mixed bag of personalities and lifestyles to achieve a liveable house dynamic requires time and effort.

Living with the parents offers a measure of stability and division of labor that otherwise doesn't exist for a single person. Single people have to do everything themselves (married people, please appreciate your spouse for their part in your division of labor!!!!!!!!!!): work, housework, meal planning, cooking, repairs, car maintenance, bills, financial planning, laundry, cleaning, yard work, errands, everything. Having a living situation where some of these aspects can be shared makes life much, much easier. Even as a renter, I outsource yard work, housing maintenance and appliance repair.

I'd argue that moving back in with your parents is the responsible thing to do in some situations. I lived with my parents for about six months after college then ventured out on my own. But what do I know? I'm a single 25-34 year old who hasn't purchased a home yet, thus I apparently have a hand in wrecking the economy. Too bad I don't feel more responsible; I was too busy enjoying my spacious one bedroom apartment with vaulted ceilings and a lack of Saturday yard work.


  1. Last night NPR did a spot on the lower economic earning of young people compared to the past. Young recent graduates make $0.90 to the $1 that their parents made right out of college. Bizarre right?

  2. Wait... I'm married and also haven't bought a house yet 6 years after graduating from college -- and I was blessed with my plan pretty much working out -- college done in 4 years, great paying job, met the one a month after starting work, got married a year later, kids, a dog, a suburban (not quite a minivan)... but still no house. We may not live with our parents, but we certainly aren't helping the housing market either. I think it's more irresponsible for people to buy a house they can't afford and then needing to sell it in a few years, and then not being able to.