America has long struggled to provide adequate affordable housing, an issue that’s become increasingly dire over the past few decades and supercharged since the pandemic. Now, new data is showing that things aren’t improving much for the next generation.
In fact, 31% of Gen Z live with a parent or family member because they can’t afford to rent or buy their own place, a new survey of 1,249 U.S. adults from Intuit Credit Karma finds.
First, some context: Gen Z spans those born between 1997 and 2012, currently aged 11 to 26. While it isn’t exactly newsworthy that 11 and 12-year-olds would live with a family member, Credit Karma’s survey includes responses from those 18 and older.
For the members of the generation old enough to live on their own, Credit Karma’s survey and other data are starting to paint a picture that Gen Z is be particularly unlucky when it comes to housing costs. Gone are the days of low interest rates that helped millennials finally break into the market, particularly at the start of the 2020s; now, as more and more members of Gen Z graduate from school, kick off their careers, and consider a starter home, they are facing higher rates and higher housing prices, all with limited supply.
Renting isn’t any better: In 2022, the typical American renter became rent burdened—meaning 30% of the median income is now needed to pay the average rent—for the first time. While income growth that finally outpaced rent growth in 2023 helped renters some, the national rent-to-income ratio still sits at 30%, according to Moody’s Analytics, which is considered rent burdened.
Gen Zers certainly aren’t the only ones struggling—of U.S. adults across generations who rent, 24% say they can’t afford their rent anymore, the report finds, causing almost 40% to sacrifice necessities to pay their housing bill. But the hardship is exacerbated among millennials and Gen Z: 30% and 27%, respectively, are struggling to pay their rent, versus 10% of those who are at least 69.
Expensive rent has far-reaching consequences beyond the daily financial struggle, including making it more difficult to save for a home. To that end, Credit Karma’s survey finds nearly half of Americans, 46%, believe they will never own one (mortgage rates and inflation are also to blame). Last year, the typical first-time homeowner was 36 years old, according to the Association of Realtors. That’s a record high, and a full decade older than the oldest Gen Zer.
That means more Gen Zers are renting for longer, even as those costs creep higher and higher, too. No wonder so many are staying with mom and dad. It’s long been a trend—just ask millennials who got financially backtracked during the Great Recession—but it picked up during the pandemic, some experts say. Around 2.7 million adults in the U.S. moved in with a parent or grandparent in March and April of 2020, according to a Zillow analysis; U.S. Census Bureau data finds the percentage of young adults living at home has climbed over 87% over the past two decades. With the inflation that followed in the pandemic’s wake, many young people haven’t been able to move out.
When they are able to move out, many can only do so with a parent’s help. A recent survey from Redfin found 40% of buyers under 30 get help from family to afford a down payment. Credit Karma’s survey found 30% of Gen Z and 39% of millennials say they are dependent on money from family to buy a home.
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