Megan Riner was living alone in a small studio in Portland, Oregon when the pandemic hit. Working the night shift on a TV news channel made it difficult to find friends. After her job went virtual because of Covid, she rarely left her apartment, which exacerbated her feelings of isolation.
Ms Riner, 25, decided to leave Portland in July and return to her old room with her mother in her hometown of Indianapolis. It was a decision that shocked her: all she had wanted after college was to leave Indianapolis and start an independent life.
“I feel so much better just knowing that I live near friends and a support system,” she says.
Young adults from across the country have flocked to their parents’ homes amid the pandemic. Now, some are staying, finding that they enjoy the safety and benefits of living near their families, as well as being in their hometown during a time of great uncertainty. More than half of 18 to 29-year-olds began living with their parents after U.S. coronavirus cases began to spread in early 2020, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of monthly Census Bureau data. This surpasses the previous peak during the Great Depression period.
These trips home have accelerated since Covid, says Ashley Basile Oeken, president of Engage! Cleveland, a nonprofit organization that focuses on engagement and career development for young adults. Two months after the start of the pandemic, she started receiving calls from people who had moved and were looking for a way to stay.
She says these “boomerangs” – people who return to their hometowns – are usually in their early to mid-30s. But now more and more people in their twenties are coming back. To hire! Cleveland launched a social media ad campaign targeting young professionals in New York, Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus and Pittsburgh to bring them back to Cleveland.
It’s unclear whether this spike in young adults living at home is a temporary, pandemic-induced acceleration of a trend that was already happening – or if it signals a permanent change in behavior, says Professor Karen Fingerman. of Human Development and Family Sciences at the University. from Texas, Austin. But it’s clear that there has been a stronger bond in families over the past year, she says. The influx of young people animates many small towns and expands resources for growth and development.
“I feel connected to the community here,” says Aleah LaForce, who moved to his mother’s house in Brooklyn, New York, in March 2020, after the pandemic interrupted his senior year at Oral Roberts University in New York. Tulsa, Okla. Since coming home she has been active in her church and volunteering for the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Ms. LaForce, 22, began a series of virtual internships at organizations based in Washington, DC, where she planned to live after college. But now, instead of going to Washington to find a permanent job, she plans to stay and work in Brooklyn. It makes economic sense: with $ 30,000 in student debt and aspirations to work in a nonprofit or government organization, she can save money by living in her mother’s house.
Coming home comes from “the need to look for ways to maximize certainty during uncertain times.” The goal is to achieve safety and security, ”says Jacqueline K. Gollan, professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago. Moving is a coping mechanism caused by a biological response to the uncertainty of the pandemic – a response to the activation of the sympathetic nervous system and the subsequent release of stress hormones.
Neal Roese, professor of marketing at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, says change stems from changing expectations. Instead of young adults who focus on independence, employment and mobility, they feel a renewed need to feel grounded. “Spending less time in cars and on planes and with distant knowledge makes us rethink the balance of our lives,” he says.
Shira Olson and Scott MacPhee, both 29, thought they would only be spending a few weeks with Ms Olson’s parents in Cranston, RI, when they left their New York apartment in March 2020 due to the pandemic .
They ended up staying in Ms Olson’s old bedroom for a few months, both at the height of the jobs that went virtual. They had planned a big wedding in December, but put it off until July instead. Then they returned to New York.
“I was in tears, I wanted to come home and I missed my parents. All I wanted was to be near my parents, ”says Olson. The couple lasted a few months, then broke their New York lease and returned to Rhode Island, where they plan to stay in their own apartment. If Mr. MacPhee’s education support job comes in person again, he will look for a new one nearby. “We had this moment aha where being close to the family is so special. It’s a gift, ”says Olson.
For Benjamin Becker, childcare assistance was one of the main reasons for coming home. The 29-year-old sales manager and his wife, Katie Becker, drove the six-hour drive from Chicago to Cleveland with their 10-day-old son in April and moved in with his wife’s parents. Now her own parents, who live nearby, and her in-laws share the babysitting duties.
“Having our parents to help out every day is truly a blessing,” says Becker. They knew they would eventually want to settle near their family, but expected to live in Chicago for at least another two to three years. They just bought a house in Cleveland.
“All of a sudden it became a really attractive place,” says Jessica Beringer, a 33-year-old lawyer, who also moved from Chicago to return to Cleveland, where her parents and in-laws live. She, along with her husband, their 3-year-old child, their baby born five months before the pandemic and their dog stayed in her childhood home for five months.
Ms Beringer found a new job at a Cleveland law firm in October and they bought a house in Shaker Heights, the neighborhood where she grew up. She likes having more space, but she misses her mom making dinner every night. “There is a feeling of relief now that we are home,” she said.
Sabrina Ahmadzai was in the process of securing jobs at pharmaceutical companies in New Jersey and central Pennsylvania in anticipation of her graduation from Philadelphia University of Science last spring. She lived with her parents in her childhood home nearby. When the pandemic hit, all of his plans changed. Instead of pursuing these jobs, she found one within driving distance of her home. She decided that her younger sister, who started high school this year, needed her home to help her with virtual school.
Her change of mind surprised her, as she generally enjoys exposing herself to new experiences and relishes change. But, she says, “Now is the time to spend some precious time with the family.”
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Write to Nancy Keates at [email protected]
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