Montgomery is part of moving-back-with-the-parents trend

By Sarah Gantz
The Gazette
Thursday, February 17, 2011

Daniel Ignacio of Germantown, a pre-law student at American University, is part of a growing nationwide population of adults who are choosing to live with their parents into their late 20s and early 30s, according to recently released census data.

Montgomery County planning officials say the trend might be occurring locally, too, given a recent spike in the number of adults in their 20s and 30s living in the county, an increasing average household size and the area's high cost of living.

Ignacio works two jobs to help pay tuition and often forgoes late nights with college friends, opting for steady meals and the comfortable surroundings of his childhood home.

"Before, I was eating Easy Mac, like, every day," Ignacio, 21, said.

The trend is one that at least one report says reflects not only a struggling economy and high cost of living, but a shift in culture, in which offspring are taking longer to gain financial independence from their parents.

Nationwide, about 15.6 million people from 18 to 24 lived with their parents last year, which ranks as the highest percentage since 1997 - 53 percent - according to census data.

About 5.5 million people ages 25 to 34 lived with parents last year. That number represents 13 percent of the national population in that age group, the highest percentage living with parents recorded in a census report that dates back to 1960.

The cost of living and housing in Montgomery could make the area a hotbed for this trend, said Rollin Stanley, director of the county's Planning Department.

The department does not have data to quantify a rising number of young adults living with their parents in Montgomery, but what planners know from statistics that are available about the county's demographics and living expenses supports the national trend, he said.

"We know we have a lot of kids in Montgomery County," Stanley said. "We also know Montgomery County is a very expensive place to find housing and, as a result, a lot of the younger folks can't afford the average median rents alone."

From 2005 through 2009, an average of about 78,530 people ages 18 to 24 lived in the county - an increase of about 18,000 since 2000, according to census data. The average household size increased throughout the decade, from 2.66 occupants in 2000 to 2.72 between 2005 and 2009.

In addition to economic fuels for the trend - a tough job market and cost of living and housing - at least one report shows the move home is a sign of economic savvy among young adults.

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