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Confessions of 20-somethings who live at home and splash out on cars, designer handbags, and nightclubs instead

Dan Latu,Kelsey Neubauer   

Confessions of 20-somethings who live at home and splash out on cars, designer handbags, and nightclubs instead
  • The rate of young adults living with their parents is the highest it's been in decades.
  • They're also spending the money they would have spent on rent on pricey goods and travel.

Flying the coop is increasingly expensive.

The typical rent nationwide crossed $2,000 a month in May of 2022, according to the real-estate-data firm Redfin. Though rents have dropped slightly since then, a January report from the financial firm Moody's Analytics found most American renters are still classified as "rent-burdened," meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on rent.

For some young people living through their twenties in today's housing market, it's not worth the headache.

Young Americans are living at home at historic rates. Nearly a quarter of adults aged 25 to 34 lived in a multigenerational family household in 2021, a jump from 9% in 1971, according to Pew Research.

Though many may make enough to afford big-city rents, young Americans with full-time jobs are opting instead to move back in with Mom and Dad, which allows them to spend on luxurious items and experiences that otherwise would be out of reach. It's fueling a boom in luxury goods and reshaping the future of retail.

Four people spoke to Insider about the tradeoffs they made to move back in with their families for greater financial flexibility. To be sure, some are still saving and investing in large amounts. But being back in their childhood bedrooms also gives them the freedom to splurge on designer handbags, meals at fancy restaurants, bottle service at nightclubs, cameras, and trips to Europe.

Anastasia Ricci, 25, Greenwich, Connecticut

Profession: Public-relations associate account executive

If she weren't living with her parents she'd live in: Stamford, Connecticut, where the rent starts at $1,875 a month, according to Rent.com.

She's spent money on: $5,500 on a Chanel handbag; $1,700 on a Balmain jacket; $1,200 on a weekend in Miami; $200 on an Alex and Olivia dress; $35,000 on a Kia GT Line; $450 on Louboutin shoes

The pandemic stopped Ricci from moving out of her parents' house in Greenwich, Connecticut.

In March 2020, weeks after she got her first job at a New York City-based PR company, the whole world shut down.

"It was nice to be home with people then," she said. "I was saving my money."

She still hasn't left. She loves the space she has in her parents' house and what she's able to spend her money on.

"It's just nice to have the freedom to not pay rent," she said.

In her view, she's not spending money like crazy. But she is buying what she sees as investments in her wardrobe and life, something she never would have been able to do if she was tossing thousands toward rent each month.

One of her priciest investments? A $5,500 Chanel handbag.

"I'll have it for the rest of my life. I am taking super good care of it and my daughter will have it in the future," she said. "That's the way I've been looking at it — I don't want to skimp out on life if I don't have to."

Julia Machaj, 23, Rocky Hill, Connecticut

Profession: Engineer

If she weren't living with her parents she'd live in: Stamford, Connecticut, where the rent starts at $1,875 a month, according to Rent.com.

She's spent money on: $20,000 on a 2021 Subaru; $80 and more on American Eagle jeans; $150 on a pair of Xena work boots; $300 on art supplies; $325 on a membership to a recreational-sports league; $30,000 set aside in the bank for a future down payment on a house and quality house furnishings

Machaj, who graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2021 with a degree in engineering, got a job right away as a product-support engineer at an aerospace company.

As she was getting adjusted to adult life at the job in West Hartford, Connecticut, she thought it would make the most sense to live with her parents in Rocky Hill, 28 minutes away.

Now, she's been there long enough to see how much money she can save — and plans to stay for a few more years.

In the meantime, she's making investments in clothing like American Eagle jeans and in hobbies like art and sports.

"I've been trying to invest in a more professional wardrobe for work, which is difficult right out of college," she said. "Having more money has helped me get to that point. It helps me kind of feel more professional and comfortable in my day-to-day work."

Even with those purchases she's saved $30,000, something she said she would never be able to do if she was renting in a city like nearby Stamford.

Jonathan Branch, 30, Fairfax, Virginia

Profession: Accountant

If he wasn't living with his parents he'd live in: Arlington, Virginia, where rent starts at $1,999 a month, according to Rent.com.

He's spent money on: $700 Sony camera and $800 lenses

Branch recently turned 30, but spent his twenties living at home in Fairfax, Virginia. After graduating college, Branch took an accounting job in McLean, Virginia, a 15-minute drive from his childhood home.

Branch decided to live with his parents rather than move into nearby Arlington, Virginia, or Washington, DC. It's a choice that's supported his savings as well as his newfound passion for photography. Since living at home, Branch has picked up a $700 Sony camera, $800 specialty lenses, and various pieces of lighting equipment costing between $100 and $500 each.

Without a rent payment every month, he's able to keep photography as a passion and not a side hustle.

"I try not to make a business out of it," he said. "For me, this is a very creative pursuit."

Living at home seems to be working well — his younger brother moved back home after college, too.

Gabby Beckford, 27, Tacoma, Washington

Profession: Travel influencer

If she weren't living with her parents she'd live in: Seattle, Washington, where rent starts at $1,560 a month, according to Rent.com.

She's spent money on: Flights and accommodations including $1,500 on a Mexico trip; $1,000 on a Croatia trip; $1,800 on a trip to the United Arab Emirates; and $1,400 on a trip to Greece

In February 2020, Beckford was living in her studio apartment, which cost $1,600 a month, in the Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore when she decided she needed a change.

Instead of spending her paycheck as an engineer to scrape by, she wanted the flexibility to drop everything and travel the world. So, she quit her job and resolved to move back in with her mom in Fairfax, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, DC.

With her childhood bedroom as a "hub," Beckford was able to become a full-time travel influencer, thanks in part to a travel Instagram account she started when she studied abroad in Dubai. The account now has 158,000 followers.

Now, she jets off to Mexico, Croatia, Italy, and Greece, but still returns home in the States to live with her mom, who has since relocated to Tacoma, Washington.

Beckford said she saves money on housing when she travels compared to her previous lease. She finds short-term rentals through Facebook groups, eschewing sites like Airbnb and Booking.com. Most recently, she rented a quiet one-bedroom accommodation in Mexico City for $800 a month with abundant natural light and steady WiFi.

Without an expensive lease hanging overhead, Beckford said she's also more likely to indulge by trying new restaurants or treating herself to a manicure when she's abroad.

"Stress- and mental-health-wise, it's a lot easier to not have that big bill at the end of the month," she told Insider.



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