If you're a Millennial who lives with your parents, you're in good company — by which I mean, you know, good company in addition to your parents. According to data from the Pew Research Center, Millennials living with parents is now the most arrangement for the generation, with around a third of all Americans ages 18 to 34 saying that they live at home. That works out to around 14 million people — so, like I said: Lots of good company.
So is this a sign that Millennials are lazy moochers who just want to spend the rest of our lives camped out in our parents' basement? Not really.
"This turn of events is fueled primarily by the dramatic drop in the share of young Americans who are choosing to settle down romantically before age 35," the Pew Research Foundation explains. Previously, the most common living arrangement for people in this age group has long been to live with a romantic partner, a trend that dates back at least as far as the 1880s, peaking around 1960 when 62 percent of Americans aged 18 to 34 lived with romantic partners. Today, though, people are getting married later in life — and apparently are less likely to live with a romantic partner at all.
Today, only 31 percent of Millennials currently lives with a romantic partner, as opposed to 32 percent who are living with their parents. 14 percent of Millennials live alone or as the head of a household, and 22 percent have "other arrangements" — which presumably includes anything from "living in a dorm" to "sharing an apartment with roommates" to "hitchhiking aimlessly around Colorado"
If your instinct is to let these numbers send you into a spiral of despair about how our generation will never be able to support ourselves, I wouldn't worry about it too much. For one thing, it turns out that although this is the first time more young adults have lived at home than with a romantic partner, there have been times in history when it was even more common to live at home. In 1940 — aka the era of the "Greatest Generation" — around 35 percent of people aged 18 to 34 lived at home. Which makes sense given that the country was still trying to climb out of the Great Depression. You know, that thing that everyone keeps comparing our current economic situation to.
And no one goes around saying that the "Greatest Generation" didn't turn out OK.
For another thing, the number of Millennials living at home skews decidedly younger. Among Millennials aged 25 to 34, the number of people living at home falls to 19 percent. So it seems that the older you get, the more likely you are to figure things out and start living independently of your parents. It just takes some people a little time, which is not altogether surprising or necessarily a bad thing.
So what does all this mean? Well, essentially, it means that living with your parents is the new normal. Whether this state of affairs is just a blip on the radar or whether it becomes a normal part of the "growing up" life cycle still remains to be seen, but for now, if you're living at home, just know you've got around 14 million people right alongside you.