As I approach 25, my coworkers and peers are often intrigued when they find out I haven’t moved out of my parents’ home. But my situation is actually becoming more common: a 2014 Pew Research analysis found that 18- to 34-year-olds were more likely to live in their parents’ home (32.1%) than they were to live with a spouse or partner in their own household (31.6%). As of 2016, 15 percent of 25- to 35-year-old millennials were living in their parents’ home.
The trend of living at home longer as an adult is the same among Asian Americans. In 2014 census data, 28 percent of Asians in the U.S. lived in multigenerational family households while only 15 percent of Caucasians did. There are a multitude of reasons people live in this arrangement, so let’s look at a few of the most prominent factors.
One of the chief reasons that lead young adults to live with their parents, no matter their ethnic background, is finances. College debt is a major burden—the average 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt, up 6 percent from last year, according to Student Loan Hero. This is both a deterrent for those seeking higher education without the means to pay and an obstacle for those who need to pay back loans. Additionally, rent inflation is rising across the country, up 4 percent in 2016. For young Americans who graduated from school and entered the work force during the Great Recession of 2008, living with their folks is a much-appreciated financial safety blanket.
These stressors affect Asian Americans as well, especially when you look at how this population views their financial responsibilities. A Prudential study found that 25 percent of Asian Americans surveyed say taking care of family members is a financial priority, versus 15 percent of the general population. Filial piety is a cornerstone of East Asian culture and the expectation that parents will take care of their children, even into adulthood, is often juxtaposed with the assumption that the children will look after their elderly parents later in life. Unlike the portrayal of Western households in media where parents are glad to be empty nesters as soon as their kids reach 18, many Asian parents want their adult children to continue living with them or close to them.
JF Garrard, a 32-year-old writer/publisher and first generation Chinese-Canadian, moved back in with her parents after she graduated college and was jobless. “It was tough to have experienced freedom and then be restricted again. However, I was told over and over again that I was a girl and it was socially not acceptable for me to move in with my boyfriend,” she recounted. She moved out at the age of 28 after she got married.
It’s not only young women who are staying at home. Kent, a 24-year-old marketing professional, doesn’t have plans to move out of his childhood home in Astoria, New York City, where the average cost of rent is over $2,200. “I give my parents money every month as ‘rent’ but I still save a lot more money than if I lived on my own in the same neighborhood. Right now I’d rather spend on things I enjoy, like travel and food, than paying crazy prices for a studio.”
The feeling that money is better spent on experiences like a great meal or a two-week European adventure seems to be increasingly popular amongst young adults. A recent Bank of America Merrill Edge study found that today’s 18- to 34-year-olds are more likely to prioritize travel (81%), dining (65%), and fitness (55%) over their financial future. While the term “financial future” is relatively vague, it’s telling that a majority of the sample size ranked day-to-day luxuries in the near term to be more important than more long-term financial goals, such as buying a home.
Societal views and expectations are rapidly evolving now that young adults are living with their parents longer. While some might find adults living with their parents to be strange or even embarrassing, there are valid reasons to do so, particularly financial.
Do you live in a multi-generational household? Whether you currently do or you used to for an extended period of time, we’d love to read your stories and experiences in the comments.