Trysta Barwig, Megan Zuckerman, Rachel Sulman Photography, Patricia Kolesa
- Since 2020 adults aged 25 to 34 are living at home at higher rates than past generations, said the Census Bureau.
- Four millennials talk about what contributed to their decision to live with their parents.
- Some are saving for a down payment, while others don’t consider homeownership a marker of adulthood.
Since the onset of the pandemic, young millennials are living with their parents at rates not seen since 1972, and they seem to be in no rush to move out.
According to the US Census Bureau, about 18% of men and 12% of women ages 25 to 34 were living with their parents in 2022.
For the roughly 48% of 18 to 29 year olds the US Census Bureau estimates are living with their parents, no rent can mean spending savings on luxury handbags and watches, according to a report about discretionary spending by Morgan Stanley research.
But for many of their slightly older millennial counterparts, living at home means saving money for a down payment for their own place, waiting out high mortgage rates and sky-high housing prices, and prioritizing spending on experiences like vacations and concerts rather than material goods.
There’s also a shift happening: Americans well into their 30s aren’t afraid of being labeled immature or unsuccessful for living at home.
Trysta Barwig, a project manager for a home-improvement store in Atlanta and one of three millennial women in the US Insider spoke with who are still living at home, said she’d experienced the shift in her own thinking.
“I think back in the day people used to look down on you for staying at home with your parents like you’re some kind of loser, but I’ve got a job, I’ve got a salary,” Barwig said. “I don’t see why I need to live on my own.”
And the trend isn’t limited to the US. Right across the border in Canada, rents also have spiked. Insider spoke to a woman who moved from her own place in Toronto to live at home in Ontario to save money.
All four women opened up about how much money they’re saving by doing it, what they’re prioritizing in their futures, and what they think about their living arrangements.
Financial goals, and cultural traditions, keep her at home
Barwig, 33, has almost always lived with her parents.
“In my culture — I’m from Malawi — you stay home until you get married,” she said.
Barwig tried living on her own, about two years ago, in a $2,000-a-month studio in Atlanta.
“I knew I could afford it, but it was a lot of money,” said Barwig, who in addition to working as a project manager for a home-improvement store runs a Hawaii travel blog on the side. Barwig asked not to name her employer and wouldn’t share her salary, but Indeed.com lists the average salary at Lowe’s for Barwig’s role as $49,456 a year.
She doesn’t consider herself a frivolous spender, and decided the expense of the monthly rent payment outweighed the pros of independent living. In early 2022 she decided to move into her parents’ home in Atlanta to save up for a down payment and, she hopes, wait out higher mortgage rates.
There are other pluses, too. Barwig said she’s able to contribute the maximum amount to her 401(k) and other benefits through work because she isn’t paying a huge sum for rent. She’s also able to spend more on experiences, like traveling to Hawaii three times a year.
Barwig contributes $200 a month to her household to help cover the electricity bill. Her other monthly expenses include her phone bill, health insurance, and car insurance. She’s paid off her student loans and doesn’t have any credit-card debt. Barwig estimates she’s saving about $30,000 a year.
“I don’t really spend a lot of money,” she said. “You’re never going to see me at a restaurant spending $50 on a dish.”
The pandemic brought her home, but the savings make her stay
In March 2020, Megan Zuckerman moved home to the Jersey Shore from her apartment with two roommates in Manhattan’s Flatiron neighborhood, where she paid $2,000 a month.
The 28-year-old, who had been living in New York City for about seven years at that point, was used to being more independent. The disappointment of moving home was overwhelming.
She was planning on signing a new lease in Manhattan when things got a bit more back to normal.
“But then I started realizing that I was saving so much money, and it was going to be really hard to go back to spending so much on rent,” she said.
Zuckerman works as a public relations and events manager at an educational consultancy, where she pulls in six figures. She’s been able to maintain the job as a mostly remote employee at the Jersey Shore, where her parents live.
She looked to a few of her older friends as inspiration for her next decision: to continue living at home as she saves up for a down payment, ideally for a studio on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
“I really don’t want to have a crazy-high mortgage, so I think it’d be better to keep waiting and then put down as much of a down payment as possible,” Zuckerman said. She’s hoping to save about $100,000 before moving out.
She contributes to the grocery bill and often picks up the tab when her family dines out, she said. And living at home has freed her up financially to lean more into experiences, like splurging on Bruce Springsteen tickets and going to more nonprofit fundraisers, which Zuckerman said usually start at about $100 a ticket.
She has FOMO — fear of missing out — when she knows her friends who still live in the city are going out, but the savings help her overcome the feeling.
She’s focusing on her health, and starting her own business
Rachel Sulman Photography
Chloë Grande moved 19 times in 10 years, but her most recent experience with a negligent landlord in Toronto pushed her to her limit.
She broke her lease and moved home to St. Catharines, Ontario, right across the border from Buffalo, New York, in April 2021.
On top of that, the coronavirus pandemic pushed Grande, then working in corporate communications, inward.
“I really thought deeply about my values, my purpose. So I had a lot of thinking, which is also connected to my relapse with an eating disorder over the pandemic,” Grande said. “I really put my health as a priority rather than these external goals that I felt pressured to achieve before the pandemic.”
Grande quit her gig, focused on her health, and decided to launch her own business in early 2022 as an eating-disorder-recovery blogger, writer, and speaker. The transition not only saw her leave behind a steady paycheck but also changed her big-picture priorities.
“My spending habits now are mostly directed towards my business,” she said. “That’s become the priority and dream rather than saving for a down payment.”
When she was bringing in 80,000 Canadian dollars in her corporate-communications role, the 29-year-old is now hoping to make 20,000 to 30,000 Canadian dollars, or about $15,000 to $22,000, in her first year of self-employment.
She pays her mom 500 Canadian dollars a month for a separate apartment in the home, and she still has savings from her corporate job when she’s ready to buy a home of her own. But she’s in no hurry.
She said studying abroad and talking to friends from different cultures that don’t idealize homeownership, such as in Germany and France, where people often remain renters, had helped her to change her expectations.
“I feel I don’t need to own a house for that to be a marker of success,” she added, “or a sign that I’m a proper adult.”
Her friends live at home, so she’s in no big hurry
Patricia Kolesa has never lived too far from home, straying only when she lived in the dorms at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the same town she grew up in.
After graduating in 2019, Kolesa decided to move back in with her parents as she pursued her master’s degree online in human nutrition. She’s been living at home ever since.
The cost of housing in New Jersey is far higher than the national average — 38%, according to RentCafe — a fact that Kolesa is acutely aware of. Now, she and her boyfriend, both 26 and both living with their parents, are saving for a down payment and forgoing the high rents in the area.
She feels more at ease living at home because a lot of her friends are doing the same. “Just having them within close proximity has been really another reason for me to stay,” she said.
The ability to live at home while working full time as a registered dietitian at an acute-care hospital, where she makes about $65,000 annually, has also helped her to afford to travel the world, with stops in Ecuador, Portugal, and Turks and Caicos since mid-2021.
Kolesa doesn’t have any student loans and said her big expenses at the moment were healthcare, auto repairs, and credit-card bills.
She estimates she’s putting about $30,000 a year into her bank account, and she wants to invest more in the stock market in 2023 to diversify her income streams. She is also saving to start her own business as a dietician to counsel clients on healthy eating habits.
Still, she does want to buy her own place one day.
“Unfortunately, something a lot of people that I’m close to wish for is another crash,” she said, referring to the subprime-mortgage crisis. “So then the prices go down, which is not an easy thing to say, but it’d be easier for us to have the ability to purchase a home.”
If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline (1-800-931-2237) on weekdays for support, resources, and information about treatment options. In crisis situations, NEDA offers 24/7 support — just text “NEDA” to 741741.