Young Adult House Sharing is on the Rise

New NAHB research shows that sharing housing with roommates, housemates and other non-relatives is rising in popularity among young adults. While only 4% percent of young adults ages 25 to 34 shared housing in 1990, that segment increased to 7.5% in 2016. This is in addition to increasing numbers of young adults that now choose to live with their parents or parents-in-law. Moreover, the rising portion of young adults (5% in 2016 vs 3% in 1990) chose to live with relatives other than parents. As a result, one in three (this adds up to more than 15 million) young adults ages 25-34 now live with parents, relatives or sharing housing with nonrelatives.

The share of young adults living with parents or other relatives remained relatively stable from 1990 to 2000 (see Figure below), fluctuating around 15%. The persistent and rising trend emerged a few years later. By 2006, 19% of young adults ages 25 to 34 lived with their parents or relatives. The trend continued its steady climb through the housing bust, a period of declining home prices, economic downturn and showed no sign of reversing even as an economic recovery took place. By 2016, the share of young adults ages 25 to 34 living with parents or relatives exceeded 26%. Out of these, more than 21%, or 9.4 million, lived in homes of their parents or parents-in-law and additional 5.2% (2.3 million) lived with other relatives.

Similarly, doubling up with roommates, housemates and other nonrelatives has been becoming more common over the last two decades. While only 4% of 24-35 year olds shared housing in 1990, the segment surpassed 5% a decade later, exceeded 6% by 2008 and reached 7.5% in 2016. As a result, over 3.3 million of young adults shared their housing with unrelated housemates in 2016. This represents an 80% increase since 1990 when only 1.8 million of 25-34 year olds were house sharers.

The spatial analysis provides additional insights into house sharing arrangements of young adults. The list of states with the largest segments of house sharers includes states with some of the most expensive housing markets, such as California, Hawaii, and New York – where one in ten 25-34 year olds are sharing their homes (and presumably, expensive housing costs) with unrelated roommates or housemates. These states also stand out for having some of the lowest headship rates (the share of young adults who are household heads) in the nation.

At the same time, the list of states with the largest segments of house sharers contains several states with the above average headship rates, such as Colorado and Oregon, where 11% of young adults are house sharers. District of Columbia, known as a city of transients, stands out for housing the nation’s highest share of 25-34 year old house/roommates – 20%. At the same time, due to its relatively stable job market, DC’s headship rates are well above the nation’s average, with 45% of young adults leading their own households. North Dakota simultaneously registers the highest headship rate of 54% and one of the highest segments of house sharers, 9%, among young adults.



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1 reply

  1. It’s not rising in “popularity,” it’s because of necessity. Rent keeps rising while wages aren’t keeping up with the increased cost of living, plus crippling student loan and medical debt.

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