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The Way We Work: Local 20-Somethings Find Security Living With Mom and Dad

Many high school and college graduates nationwide return to their childhood homes to save money or switch careers. A Beachwood native and a Shaker Heights native share their experiences.

Beachwood native Damen Camin jokes that his landlord, roommate and mother are all the same person.

Because like many local high school and college graduates, Camin, 29, lives at home.

But he's not alone.

A study by the Pew Research Center of U.S. Census data determined that 39 percent of adults (ages 18-34) live with a parent or moved back home at some point during recent years. Among those who have just graduated high school or college (ages 18-24), 53 percent lived at home or moved back temporarily.

Those figures represent the highest percent of Americans living in multi-generational homes since the 1950's, the Pew study said.

"What seems to be changing is not that kids are returning home for a while after college, but how long they are living at home before they can leave," said Lawrence Levy, executive dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Long Island's Hofstra University. That could have widespread implications for local communities.

Changing economic dynamics and cultural shifts are among the reasons experts cite for the re-emergence of nuclear, multi-generational family homes not unlike family units of post-WWII America.

More Kids at Home, Less Stigma

Shaker Heights resident Elizabeth Schreiber said she rented her own apartment for a while right after college.

"But then I decided that my parents had ample space, and paying rent was not a wise decision," said Schreiber, 29. "Living at home after college was a compromise for me, a way to enjoy the freedom of being in my 20s, start a career in the food business and still save money for future investments."

And like many 20-somethings, Schreiber has shifted gears and is now pursuing a nursing degree.

An Associated Press report in April said that opportunities for college graduates vary widely. Schreiber majored in anthropology but has not worked in the field. The report indicated that those with degrees in the arts and humanities may have a long wait ahead of them. Or they have to change direction.

"I am starting at Ursuline in January for an accelerated 15 month program, and I don't have to worry about how I will make ends meet with bills such as rent," she said.

The social stigma of living at home may be disappearing, many experts report. The Pew study said about 75 percent of returning young people reported the living arrangements were either good (24 percent) or about the same as before they left (48 percent).

"I like living at home because it's cheap, I'm in my hometown (Beachwood), it's comfortable and it's a nicer place than I could afford on my own," Camin said.

Many reported having friends in the same circumstances and, unlike previous generations, the explosion of social media keeps them in touch with friends who are far away.

And still some grads move home to contribute to expenses.

In the Pew study, nearly half of these so-called "boomerang" children report paying rent to their parents and almost 90 percent have helped with household expenses.

Sharply Divided Generations

Levy is a Baby Boomer, and after college, he traveled a bit and moved back home briefly, but picking a career and moving out went together naturally. He spent 30 years as a journalist, eventually becoming chief political columnist at Newsday.

"It is clear that this (new) generation now faces much bigger debt, car loans and school loans, credit card costs," Levy said.

But some people who could afford to live on their own still choose to live with mom and dad so they can contribute more to their savings.

"I'm still at home because I enjoy it," said Laura Conte, a 24-year-old public relations specialist. "I do not make enough money to live on my own and save the way that I want to. My monthly bills are fairly low and I think it is more beneficial to save my money at this point."

Even the secure are staying home. For the last year, financial adviser 29, is a practical, accomplished professional who understands the importance of saving for the future. Since graduating SUNY Binghamton, Trugman, who teaches others how to be responsible with money, first lived at home or with his dad and later shared a place with a brother. Now he has had his own place, an apartment in Plainview, a Long Island suburb about 30 miles east of Manhattan. But that is a recent development.

"It's financially challenging to enjoy a certain lifestyle while building a practice, and finding the time to pursue professional designations," he said.

In many ways Trugman is the norm among educated suburbanites who didn't want to leave their home communities and were willing to re-adjust to living with relatives. His approach can be strikingly pragmatic to people who think of the their 20s as a time to head out adventurously into the world and start a career.

For Conte, a 1950s-style scenario sounds just fine: "I would like to stay at home until I get married or save enough money to put a down payment on a house," the LIU Post graduate said. "Whichever happens first."

TaterSalad September 03, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Ask any, I mean any liberal if they are better off than they were four years ago! Ask for a simple yes or no, not a rambling spin answer that they will try to give you to "deflect" the question and answer. They can not and will not answer your question because they know, deep down that Barack Obama, their hero, has failed them.
Cindy Courtright September 03, 2012 at 04:31 PM
our daughter, upon graduating college in 2007, lived with us as well. her salary wasn't enough to afford her paying rent, but she did absorb other costs, and saved- a lot. in 2010 she became a homeowner, and at the same time, learned what it was like to have to immediately renovate an almost 100 year old home. she couldn't have done that if she hadn't lived with us those 3 years and built her cushion. some might say she should have been on her own paying rent; to them, i say this: we enjoyed her presence. she and i forged our friendship tighter during that time. she lives 3 miles from us so we can visit fairly frequently, but she also has her own circle of friends and activities. for what it's worth, i see nothing wrong if the end intention is to be able to move out, on their own, and support themselves.

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