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[email protected]: Moving back home, other millennial trends

From Uber to tiny houses, Millennial lifestyle trends are catching on.

The Millennials have undoubtedly carved out a way of living that is all their own, placing time and convenience above cost and tradition when going about their daily business. They are the generation of Uber, Lyft, Apple Pay, Airbnb, and Amazon Prime Now.

But even more notable—and perhaps even more impactful over the long-term—is this generation’s tendency to stretch out many of the rite-of-passage events that Baby Boomers and even Generation X ticked off one by one: college, graduate school, first job, marriage, mortgage, and family.

“Everything that has happened—the recession of 2008, a tighter job market, high student loan debt—has worked together to create a perfect storm that pushed many life events back by a decade,” says retired Professor of Business Psychology Dr. Connie Fuller.

Marriage can wait

Data produced by the Pew Research Center confirms that marriage does come later for this generation. Almost half of Baby Boomers had walked down the aisle by age 32, while 36 percent of Generation X and just 26 percent of Millennials had married by that age. Meanwhile, when they do settle down, they are having fewer children than ever. What does that mean for the future of the American family?

Mara Justice, a 27-year-old Clinical Psy.D. student on the Los Angeles Campus, says she doesn’t believe her generation is shunning marriage, per se. She thinks they are reinventing it.

“We are changing the way we view marriage. Not just when it comes to rights of everyone to marry, but also the idea that marriage is something that we have to do and within a certain time frame,” Justice explains. “I see more and more of my friends taking time for their careers, relationships, and themselves before deciding to get married.”

And while this is a trend that we started to see in Generation X, one profound difference is the number of young adults who continue to live with their parents after graduation, and often even after they have landed jobs.

Dr. Bacon believes that Millennials may be bringing society back to a time in history that predates even some of their grandparents—life before the Baby Boom, back when it was very common for multiple generations of a family to live together.

Moving back home

In 2014, almost a third (32.1 percent) of 18-to-34 year olds lived in their parents’ homes, compared to just 20 percent of the same age group in 1960. A big factor in this trend is certainly the economy. Millennial college graduates are up against a saturated job market with low entry level salaries and rents at historic highs in some areas. That, combined with the burden of student loan debt, make moving back home to save money more appealing than ever.

But is this a sign of failure, or regression to what social scientists have dubbed “adultolescence”?

Dr. Melody Bacon, department chair of Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) programs on the Los Angeles Campus, doesn’t think so. In fact, she hopes the stigma that was once attached to “having to move back home with Mom and Dad” will be removed in this generation.

“Some people are concerned that Millennials are taking longer to launch or coming back to live with parents as adults, but I don’t know why we’d be upset as a culture,” she says. “That’s how human beings have lived for millennia.”

Dr. Bacon believes that Millennials may be bringing society back to a time in history that predates even some of their grandparents—life before the Baby Boom, back when it was very common for multiple generations of a family to live together.

“I think this will ultimately be a good thing,” she says. “In the long run, we could end up with more of a return to the emotionally stable family culture we admire in European countries. There could be much more emphasis on social contact and family meals than acquiring the latest iPhone.”

While Baby Boomers were chasing the great American dream of home ownership, Millennials are more likely to weigh the benefits and burdens of mortgages and automobile loans, relying instead on low-cost, no obligation rentals or car share services.

Millennial spending

She could be on to something. Many researchers have argued that the Millennial approach to consumerism is about more than the size of their checking accounts. While Baby Boomers were chasing the great American dream of home ownership, Millennials are more likely to weigh the benefits and burdens of mortgages and automobile loans, relying instead on low-cost, no obligation rentals or car share services.

Even for some of those who do choose to buy, there is the wildly popular tiny house movement. These no-frills small spaces—typically less than 800 square feet—are beginning to replace the traditional 2,500-plus-square-foot Colonials and Cape Cods of their childhood.

“Smaller spaces mean less stuff, and I think this could be beneficial long term,” Dr. Bacon says. “There are many studies that prove a higher income doesn’t have a greater exponential value on your happiness. The same could be said of belongings. So I think a move away from materialism back to more meaningful experiences with friends and family is a very positive thing.”

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