Thousands of young adults across the country have moved back in with their parents in the past few years.
Some are unemployed. Some are just getting on their feet after college. they’re part of what’s being called the “boomerang” generation.
The latest census data shows that there are more multigenerational households in the U.S. today than there have been since the 1950’s.
And a new Pew Research Center survey finds that it’s the kids who are shoring up the household expenses.
It’s an area of green fields and large two-story houses, including the one where Stephanie Ryan lives with her father.
Ambi: Outside Ryan home
Sound: Door opens
Stephanie Ryan: Hi, come on in
Guzman: thank you
Ryan leads the way through this spacious three-bedroom house.
There are beige carpets on the floor and furniture passed down from her great grandmother decorates the living room.
Ryan grew up here, graduated from Rutgers University in 2008 and then followed her high school sweetheart to Seattle.
Stephanie: I thought that was the next logical step and I had some really good jobs and I really enjoyed it out. But unfortunately things changed, and now I’m back home.
Guzman: She went back to school for a master’s in special education and got a teaching job.
Then, her parents divorced and her younger brother moved to Florida. Stephanie’s father, Jim Ryan, decided to keep the house anyway.
Stephanie: He bought out my mom. And he doesn’t have a lot of money with his current job.
Guzman: Jim Ryan lost a well paying job in human resources during the recession.
And in fact, Stephanie says her mother was still living in the house until a few months ago.
She continued paying most of the bills, even after the divorce.
Stephanie: She would cook food and go grocery shopping and take care of the cat. I did too, but I was used to her doing those things and when she left, it was like ‘Oh boy, now I have to do this on my own.’ — I’m obviously going to do it and I’m fine with it. But it was a huge eye-opener.
Guzman: Jim was also shocked at how much everything costs on a single income.
Jim: We had thought about selling the house, but you can’t sell a house for a profit right now. Or your profit is greatly reduced.
Guzman: So now Stephanie pays him $500 a month for rent and helps out with groceries.
Jim: And that’s a big help to me, because running a house is not cheap.
Guzman: Social analysts, like those at the Pew Center are finding that the Ryans’ situation is pretty common. 3 in 10 adults are either living with their parents or have in recent years.
Pew’s Kim Parker conducted a public survey on the “Boomerang generation” and found the vast majority are contributing to household expenses.
Parker: Many middle aged adults are also going through difficult economic times, so it may be providing additional income to them that’s helping them stay afloat, too.
Guzman: Jim Ryan knows other parents in the same boat. Like his girlfriend, Brenda Petti.
Petti: You never stop being a parent.
Petti is in the Ryans’ living room with Stephanie and Jim, watching old videos of her daughter’s dance recitals.
Sound: Watching dance recital on TV (Nsync music)
Jim: Do you remember how you used to get nervous?
Stephanie: Oh gosh, I’d get so nervous!
Guzman: Petti’s daughter recently moved back home. She finishing her masters and works part time.
Like Jim Ryan, Petti also lost her job in 2009 and has had to change jobs several times since.
She says she was uncomfortable asking her daughter for help.
Petti: You know, you’re supposed to be the one taking care of them and providing for them, and there were times when I had to borrow money from her, just to get by.
Guzman: Petti says that having her daughter back at home has distanced them in some ways. It’s brought back old patterns — arguing about each other’s whereabouts and who hasn’t done the dishes.
But Petti’s been on both sides.
Petti: I also, when I was young, was a boomerang too. Because I was out on my own and found myself back at home. So I can see how my daughter feels. Because I know how I felt when I had to go back home and live with my parents. I didn’t like it at all!
Guzman: This isn’t always the case for all boomerang children. Half of the 2,000 boomerang children Pew surveyed said that living at home hasn’t affected their relationship with their parents.
And only a quarter said it was bad for the relationship. Analyst Kim Parker says that the stigma of moving back home seems to be going away. [Fade in sound of rain]
Stephanie and Jim Ryan plan on staying put for a while.
Jim: you want an umbrella?
Stephanie: It’s nicer when the pool’s open
Guzman: Even though it started raining, Stephanie heads out to the backyard
Stephanie Ryan: It’s nice, and you know my dad works really hard to keep everything.
Guzman: She says there are lots of childhood memories here.
Stephanie: Yeah, we have our own little stream. When were kids we’d go… we could actually go underneath the street onto the other side. There’s a tunnel under there.
Her father Jim Ryan says that keeping the house with Stephanie gives her a chance to focus on her life goals. If and when she decides to move out again, he says he’ll reconsider selling the house.
Jacqueline Guzman, Columbia Radio News.