More Parents Are Moving In With Adult Children—at Younger Ages
Housing costs, child care and shifting ideas about family are driving a new rise in multigenerational living
Housing costs, child care and shifting ideas about family are driving a new rise in multigenerational living
More parents are moving in with their young adult children, and they are doing it while they are younger, healthier and often still working.
One in four Americans aged 25 to 34 lived with parents or older relatives as of 2021, the fastest-growing segment in multigenerational households, according to data from Pew Research Center. Most of this group is adult children moving back in with their parents, but a significant number of older adults are moving in with millennials, said Richard Fry, a senior researcher at Pew. In 2021, 9% of multigenerational households were headed by a 25- to 34-year-old, up from 6% in 2001.
Some parents aren’t waiting for retirement or urgent healthcare needs to move in with adult children, the Pew data suggests. Known as the reverse-boomerang effect, the move is often driven by changing attitudes about family life, high housing costs and challenges in finding affordable child care, the researchers said.
Nearly one in five Americans lived in multigenerational homes in 2021, which are defined as two or more adult generations living under the same roof. Such arrangements were more the norm in the first half of the 20th century. But they fell out of favor as housing centered on the nuclear family and older Americans stayed healthier longer and had more money.
After bottoming out at 12% of Americans in 1980, multigenerational living has made a comeback in recent years, particularly after the 2008 financial crisis and during the pandemic, according to Pew.
The challenges of the housing market are also a factor. In 2022, 14% of all home buyers set up multigenerational homes, up from 11% in 2021, according to the National Association of Realtors. The pandemic drove an increase in demand for homes designed for multigenerational living, with separate living areas for older parents.
Having more generations in one household allows first-time millennial buyers to pool financial resources with older relatives, says Jessica Lautz, the NAR’s deputy chief economist and vice president of research.
Though the hallmark of independence was once living on your own, adults who asked older relatives to move in say it has advantages.
Last year, Darin Freeman, a 30-year-old who makes a living promoting home appliances, clothes and makeup on social media, bought a 3,300-square-foot home in Tampa, Fla., with her husband. The couple spent a year trying to convince her dad, Daniel Kane, and his wife and stepdaughter to move in with them and their two children.
Mrs. Freeman wanted to be closer to Mr. Kane, who lived in Safford, Ariz. She offered him a job managing her and her husband’s Amazon reselling business. They would pay him about $5,000 a month to communicate with manufacturers, keep track of inventory and test new products.
Mr. Kane, 48, says he was hesitant. His job in radio communications for a mining company paid $120,000 a year, but meant 12-hour shifts, a two-hour commute and crawling through narrow spaces.
“I’m turning 49. I’m tired of beating myself up to make someone else money. I’d rather beat myself up making my daughter money,” he said.
He also wanted more time with his daughter and his grandchildren beyond yearly trips, he said. He wanted to cook them breakfast and watch their soccer games and gymnastics practices. Mr. Kane and his wife have their own bedroom and separate bathroom, which he calls “his own little apartment.”
The Freemans pay the mortgage. Mr. Kane shops for groceries, his wife cleans the house, and they watch the Freemans’ 7-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son. Groceries and utilities go on one shared credit card, which they split down the middle.
“For the first time we have endless amounts of help,” Mrs. Freeman said. “We have more time to do things that we enjoy.”
But with most of the adults working from home, it can be hard to find a quiet place to work, says Mrs. Freeman. She works from her bedroom, where she shoots videos and social media content.
As a child, Mrs. Freeman, who is half Filipino and half white, lived with her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She says that made her more comfortable with the idea of living with her father as an adult.
Mrs. Freeman’s husband also grew up in a four-generation household. She says he understood her desire to have her family closer, since many of his family members also live in Florida.
The majority of adults in multigenerational households say living with adult family members has been at least somewhat positive, according to Pew, although nearly a quarter said it was often stressful.
Since 2018, Simon DoQuang, 31, and his wife, Alexis DoQuang, 28, have lived with his father in a four-bedroom house in Ellicott City, Md. Mr. DoQuang’s father, Louis DoQuang, made the down payment and the younger DoQuangs pay the $2,425-a-month mortgage. Louis, 62, has Parkinson’s disease and often needs help. And Simon and Alexis, who are working parents with two children, found themselves looking for child care.
In the summer of 2020, they convinced Simon’s mother, Anna DoQuang, to move in, too. She had been living in Las Vegas, apart from her husband. The younger DoQuangs’ oldest son is 4 and goes to daycare, but they needed someone to watch their youngest. Simon offered to pay his mother every month to move in and care for their 2-year-old.
“It’s a blessing to see my grandson grow up,” Anna said.
Simon said his multigenerational living experience is bittersweet. His parents cook, clean and babysit on date nights. But what they are saving in child care and time is costing them in privacy.
“Sometimes I feel like we can’t really be ourselves as a family of four,” Simon said.
His mother says she also misses the privacy of living by herself but that it is too expensive. She says because Alexis’s work schedule changes every week, they need someone to look after their toddler and Louis.
Simon says he and his wife feel they have to keep public displays of affection around the household to a minimum.
“There’s a lot of pros and cons to it,” Simon said. “We’re thinking about possibly selling this house sometime next year so we can separate from my parents.”
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Passwords aren’t enough to fend off hackers; these dongles are the best defense
Strong passwords are very important, but they’re not enough to protect you from cybercriminals.
Passwords can be leaked or guessed. The key to online security is protecting your account with a strong secondary measure, typically a single-use code. This is referred to as “two-factor authentication,” or 2FA, as the nerds know it.
I’ve written about all the different types of 2FA, such as getting those codes sent via text message or generated in an authenticator app. Having any kind of second factor is better than none at all, but physical security keys—little dongles that you plug into a USB port or tap on your phone during account logins—offer the highest level of protection.
Security keys have been around for over a decade, but now they’re in the spotlight: Apple recently introduced support for them as an optional, added protection for Apple ID accounts. Last month, Twitter removed text-message-based authentication as an option for nonpaying users, recommending instead an authenticator app or security key.
Some people are hesitant to use security keys because carrying around a physical object seems burdensome and they come with a $30-and-up added cost. Plus, what happens if they get lost?
I’ve used security keys since 2016 and think they are actually easier to manage than codes—especially with accounts that don’t require frequent logins. They’re not only convenient, but they can’t be copied or faked by hackers, so they’re safer, too.
Here’s how to weigh the benefits and common concerns of adding one or two of these to your keychain.
Many internet services support the use of security keys, and you can use the same security key to unlock accounts on many different services. I recommend two from industry leader Yubico:
Other options include Google’s Titan security keys ($30 and up). In addition to working with laptops and tablets with USB ports, these keys are compatible with smartphones that have NFC wireless. Most smartphones these days have that, since it’s the technology behind wireless payments such as Apple Pay.
Adam Marrè, chief information security officer at cybersecurity firm Arctic Wolf, recommends that your chosen key is certified by the FIDO Alliance, which governs the standards of these devices.
To add a key, look in the security settings of your major accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.). During setup, it will prompt you to insert the key into your laptop or tablet’s port or hold the key close to your phone for wireless contact.
Apple requires you to add two security keys to your Apple ID account, in case you lose one.
Typically, when you log in, you just go to the app or website where you’ve set up a key, enter your username and password as usual, then once again insert the key into the device or hold it close. (Some keys have a metal tab you have to press to activate.) At that point, the service should let you right in.
Getting those two-factor login codes via text message is convenient, but if you are someone criminals are targeting, you could be the victim of SIM swapping. That’s where thieves convince carriers to port your number to a new phone in their possession, and they use it along with your stolen password to hack your accounts.
Even if they don’t go to all that trouble, criminals might try to trick you to hand them your codes, by calling you or spoofing a website you typically visit. At that point they can use the code for about 60 seconds to try to break in, said Ryan Noon, chief executive at security firm Material Security.
Security keys protect you in two ways: First, there’s no code to steal, and second, they use a security protocol to verify the website’s domain during login, so they won’t work on fake sites.
You can also add an authenticator app such as Authy to your most important accounts, to use only as a backup. But once you add these secure methods, you should consider removing the text-message code option.
In the rare case that someone snoops your passcode then steals your iPhone, beware: The perpetrator could still make Apple ID account changes using only the passcode, and even remove security keys from your account.
The most important rule of security keys is to buy an extra one (or two).
“Think of your security key as you would a house or car key,” said Derek Hanson, Yubico’s vice president of solutions architecture. “It’s always recommended that you have a spare.”
If you lose a security key, remove it from your accounts immediately. You should have already registered your spare or an authenticator app as a backup to use in the meantime.
Start with your most valuable accounts: Google, Apple, Microsoft, your password manager, your social–media accounts and your government accounts.
When it comes to financial institutions, many banks don’t offer security-key protection as an option, though most leading crypto exchanges do.
Security professionals and tech companies widely agree that passkeys are the future. They’re a new type of software option that combines the high security of a physical key with the convenience of biometrics such as your face or fingerprints. Passkeys are supported across the Android, iOS, Mac and Windows platforms, and some of your favourite sites already let you use them.
You can create a passkey on Facebook in security settings by following the app’s instructions under the security-key option. Dropbox has a similar passkey setup. Once you’re done, you’ll use your face or fingerprint as a second factor, instead of a code or key.
Eventually, physical security keys could be what we keep safe in strong boxes, as backups for our biometric-enabled passkeys. Even then, you’re probably going to want to have spares.
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