There was a fantastic article in last week’s New York Times that got picked up all around North America, and I actually heard about it first on the John Tory radio show.
“The Boomerang Generation” refers to kids who leave the house to go to school, but then turn around and come right back to live at home when they’re done.
I’m tempted to say that this is nothing new, since kids were doing this when I was in my early 20’s, but it seems now that kids simply expect to come home and be supported by mom and dad.
Whatever happened to renting a cheap basement apartment and eating Kraft Dinner?
One in five people in their 20’s or early 30’s is currently living with his or her parents.
60% of them receive financial support from their parents.
These were the two most shocking statistics I read in the New York Times’ article entitled “It’s Official: The Boomerang Kids Won’t Leave Home,” which you can read in full HERE.
Granted, this article contains American content, and the cost of university and college in the U.S.A. is absolutely obscene.
The cost to attend McMaster University for business school in 2014-15 is $9,290.
The cost to attend the University of Southern California for business school in 2014-15 is $43,722.
I picked those two schools at random, and while I’m sure there are many more affordable schools in the United States, we all know that it costs the “average” student in the United States far, far more than it costs us.
Nevertheless, we have the same problem here in Canada with Generation-Y going off to university or college, and then actually planning on returning home to live with mom and dad until they get off their feet.
Once upon a time, your Dad shook your hand on the front steps of the house when you turned 18-years-old, and said, “Good luck, son.”
Well, it’s not the 1950’s anymore.
But as the Times article says, 1/5 kids today returns home after university, whereas that number was 1/10 a generation ago. If this trend continues, will kids ever move out?
The Times article blames income inequality for part of this trend, suggesting that each generation used to get richer than the previous, but that this is no longer the case:
“People in the top 20 percent of income — roughly $100,000 in 2013 — have taken nearly all the economic gains of the past 40 years.”
Perhaps that’s part of it, but can’t we also blame a shift in societal values? Can’t we blame the current generation and their lack of ambition and motivation? I certainly don’t want to paint the whole generation with the same brush, but after listening to some callers on the John Tory show, I’m convinced that many of today’s youth feel entitled to come home after university and “take it easy.”
My cleaning lady is a single mother to a 15-year-old boy, who told her the other day, “When I’m finished high school, I want to take a couple years off just to relax. You have no idea how hard high school is.”
These kids have no clue what the real world is going to be like.
Now having said all of this, I might be the first to encourage a 21-year-old to live at home to save money, but that’s different than living at home to play Nintendo while not searching for a job!
I took a lot of flak for my quotes in Rob Carrick’s article in the Globe & Mail a couple weeks back, but I think that for a 21-year-old to go out and buy a condo and take on the debt associated with it might make a lot less sense than living at home, paying some rent to mom and dad, and saving a whack of cash.
Here’s what one 20-year-old recently told me in an email:
“I’ve looked at the numbers a few times (primitively, I’m no accountant or real estate expert) and I know it makes more sense to rent first or even live at home, but it’s hard to put your pride aside. You want to be the first one of your friends to own a condo downtown, you want to own the nicest condo, etc. It’s stupid, but it is just the way it is. On top of that, the instant gratification nature of my generation.”
That’s about the most honest assessment I can think of, coming from a 20-year-old, speaking about his generation. This is the more upscale segment of the generation, but you see where the thought process is. At least this kid is motivated to get out of his parents house, and pride is that motivator!
On the flip side, many of today’s youth have no pride, and even less shame.
Moving out of their parents’ house is the last thing on their mind – after getting a job, of course.
One caller to the John Tory show the other day blamed “all the businesses” for only giving out 12-month contracts instead of permanent positions. Well, gee, wouldn’t it be great if every company, everywhere, gave out lifetime positions, with benefits, so we could all retire at 55 and live comfortably like people did in the 1950’s?
Another caller said it was his “right” to live in Toronto, since he works in Toronto, and wouldn’t consider living in Mississauga, Markham, etc, where the rent is cheaper, and commuting to work each day.
Whatever happened to “roughing it?”
I think we can argue both sides of the coin here, which clearly, I am.
But there’s a difference between 20-somethings not moving out of their parents’ houses because they can’t afford to, and not doing so because they don’t want to.
The Times article suggests it’s the former, and leaves the latter unexplored.
Perhaps American 20-somethings are just drowning in debt far more than Canadians? The way income inequality is down there, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least…