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  • Robert Farago

Home Sweet Home

Is the American dream DOA?

Nearly Half of All Young Adults Live With Mom and Dad — and They Like It the headline at proclaims. Well of course they do. Free rent, electricity, water, laundry and meals. What’s not to like?

Living with your parents, of course.

There is an assumption – not without reason – that children can’t become adults until they leave the nest. Making it “on their own.” Living by their own rules, on their own schedule. With their own social scene, and, crucially, privacy.

The Bloomberg article somehow fails to mention it, but inviting a potential mate “home” to Mom and Dad – never mind having sex in your childhood bedroom – is not ideal.

None of that’s changed, of course. That’s why children leave home. What Bloomberg is focusing on: why adult children don’t leave home. Or move back. The survey says!

Hang on. I make that 256 percent. Where’s a Venn diagram when you need it?

Working with Harris’ homies, Bloomberg’s Boyz concluded that the attitude towards grown children living with their parents has changed.

Almost 90% of surveyed Americans say people shouldn’t be judged for moving back home, according to Harris Poll in an exclusive survey for Bloomberg News. It’s seen as a pragmatic way to get ahead, the survey of 4,106 adults in August showed.

Hmmm. Shouldn’t be judged but still are? I suspect so. I reckon the question “You live with your Mom and Dad?” still isn’t asked in a congratulatory or even respectful tone.

Even so, people recognize that times are tough. Ye olde “living at home” slam – you’re a lazy Mamma’s boy or an undesirable female – has gone by the wayside, as housing costs, inflation and an uncertain job market have thinned the wallets of middle class children.

Living in your parents’ house is common sense. If you’re not making a lot of money, spending most of it on rent and other basic living expenses is going to make you poor.

Who wants to be poor? Not people used to partying, for one thing. Everyone else, for another.

Does this trend represent the death of the “American dream” of a relatively quick move up the income and thus housing ladder? That depends on your perspective.

For many, the American Dream is more like an American illusion, with nearly three-quarters of those surveyed saying younger people are stuck navigating a broken economic situation that prevents them from being financially successful.

Victim mentality much?

Aided and abetted by Bloomberg, who provides two examples of struggling fledglings who moved back home out of necessity, through no fault of their own.

Make that no fault Bloomberg wants to discuss in any detail (e.g., $10k in credit card debt and $70k in student loans).

At the very end of the article, Bloomberg profiles an Asian American who understands that just because something is less obtainable for less people than it was before doesn’t mean it’s unobtainable.

During college, pandemic lockdowns showed Zhang how much she could save by living with her parents. So, after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, and securing a lucrative tech job, she chose to move back home rather than “throw away” her paychecks on an apartment. “I have my whole life to move into a nice apartment or house,” Zhang said. “I made a calculated decision to get ahead.”

OMG! Leaving credit cards alone and putting up with your parents to achieve financial independence?

And there I was thinking the younger generation wasn’t up for working hard and saving money for their future. I can almost hear Ms. Zhang singing “You can say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

Of the 329 young adults Harris Poll surveyed who live with their parents , roughly 70% said they wouldn’t be where they are financially if they hadn’t. The same is true of Zhang, who —  like more than a quarter of those surveyed — has been able to save more than $1,000 a month. She’s already accumulated a net worth of more than $100,000 on her own. 

It should also be noted that living with your mother and father until marriage is part of Asian culture. In many Arab countries, same deal.

In countries where the “American Dream” is beyond imagination, living at home is an economic necessity. And, lest we forget, a way for children to flip the script and take care of their parents (see: the 30 percent stat in the chart above).

Bloomberg couldn’t paint this homeward bound issue as one of personal responsibility, rather than society failing to provide a leg-up for young folk. So they ended on a down note (no doubt culled from a positive interview).

“It's sad because back in the day you could just have one job, support yourself and save money for a house,” Zhang, who also earns extra money as a content creator, said. “But I feel like it's really difficult to do that in this economy.”

Could you do that “back in the day”? That depends how far back you want to go.

Before the Fair Housing Act of 1968, Asian Americans were subject to racially-based deed covenants, redlining and seller and real estate agent discrimination. Not to mention the fact that Asian Americans’ median household income was 42.1 percent lower twenty years ago.

In our consumer society, a society where self-sufficiency equals maturity and success, the ability to make it on your own is highly-prized. But do any of us really “make it on our own?” Don’t ask me. Ask Mom and Dad.

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