It isn’t news that millennials are regularly criticised by the media for all our many shortcomings. We’re lazy, we’re self-centred — and in recent years, we’ve been given the unflattering nickname "the Boomerang Generation." This is because instead of shacking up and/or getting married, we’re choosing to move home (or maybe we never even left) to live with (off?) our parents.
In May, nearly every major news organisation reported a new study by Pew Social Trends that found 32.1% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 are now living in their parents’ home, making this the most common living arrangement for millennials. Perhaps more surprising is that in 1960, just 20% of young people still lived with their parents. In that so-called golden age of independence, it was much more likely (62%) that a young person would be cohabiting with a spouse or partner in their own home. Today, with people marrying later and later (or not at all), only 31.6% are living with their partners; another 14% live alone, are a single parent, or have one or more roommates. The remaining 22% live in the home of another family member, a non-relative, or in group quarters (this includes dorms as well as jails).
The data is surprising. If you think about all of your friends, are the majority living with a roommate or partner, or with their parents? Living at home in your 20s doesn’t seem like the norm, yet according to Pew, if you do still call your folks' place home, you’re far from alone. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to shake the stigma — the idea that moving back into your childhood bedroom is a really bad thing. Just because you're living with your parents doesn't mean you’re selfish or unemployable or have “failed to launch.”
We wanted to dig a little deeper and find out the real stories behind the data. So we talked to four millennial women in the New York City region to find out why they live at home. What we found won’t surprise most of you. These women are busy developing their careers, paying off loans, building emergency funds, and traveling the world with the money they save by staying with their parents. We wouldn't describe any of these women as lazy; you could even argue that they are financially smarter than the rest of us who pay exorbitant rent every month.
Ahead, interviews and photos with millennial women who are redefining what it means to move home — and proving, once again, that this generation can’t be held back by sensational headlines, overly critical talking heads, or faceless analytical research. Every single millennial woman is unique; here are just four stories.