Why Are Millennials Still Living At Home?
How many people do you know are still living at home with their families now? Are you currently still living at home with your parents? Have you recently moved back home and given up independent living? Are you the parents that are still housing your 30-year old children?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, fear not, you are not the only one.This stay-at-home and move-back-home trend is more omnipresent than we think.
More and more so in the recent years, the topic of millennials (millennials is a term coined for the generation of young adults born in the period within the early 80s and 90s.) living at home much longer than their predecessors has become a much talked about global phenomenon, transcending beyond just culture and race.
The question of “Why” takes centerstage amongst curious and dumbfounded parents and members of the earlier eras (we don’t blame them), it must be confusing when our parents and grandparents were able to establish their financial independence long before we are able to do so in our age and time. So it’s no surprise that the same groups of these earlier generations have attributed this trend to millennials having caught the “Prince and Princess Syndrome”; an oxymoron used to mockingly describe the ultra-spoiled and entitled youth who don’t possess the bravo hustling mentality that was built in to the people of “Generation Baby Boomer” and “Generation X”.
Hong Kong is no exception to this phenomenon and the city’s economic status has been a massive driving force towards this interesting trend. City University’s Urban Research Group had recently released some astounding numbers regarding this very topic. 78% of Hong Kong millennials (aged between 18-35) are still living at home under their parents’ roof.The numbers are a bit daunting, but to be honest, we don’t really have to look to statistics to see that a large percentage of our millennial peers are living this trend and happily so may I add!
Now to the million dollar question: WHY are millennials still living at home? What are the key drivers steering this trend?
There are a number of explanations that economists have used to answer this question,and they range along a spectrum from:
1. Impact of the financialcrisis
2. Bursting of the realestate market and property bubbles in the United States and Europe
3. The rise ofnon-contractual temporary “freelance” jobs
4. Millennials waitinglonger to get married and establish independent households of their own
5. Low employmentopportunities resulting in the need to move home for financial reasons
Let’s talk more specifically about Hong Kong now. Hong Kong takes the lead as one of the most prevalent cases of millennials failing to launch out of their parents’ nest,but why? Why is it that Hong Kong is such prime breeding ground for this kind of behaviour? Here are a few reasons:
• Hong Kong property is not affordable at all, especially compared to the rest of the world’s global real estate markets. The most recent numbers rounded in has pushed Hong Kong back to its number one spot as the most expensive city for real estate.Hong Kong is scarce in land and high in population density - making it the most unaffordable place in the world for housing opportunities. Until the property market improves, Hong Kong residents will always struggle with the housing situation.
• Inter-generational households is a norm in many asian cultures, not just Chinese. In Chinese cultures typically, it is considered a sign of respect, and good fortune for the youth and elders of one family to live together. This mentality still persists in many households today. The persistent rise of property prices has soared through the roof over the past decade, which has made this stay-at-home trend even more prevalent and accepted. People simply cannot afford the prices to live-out independently.
• People are also not getting married as young as they used to. Marriage is not the most important factor in measuring happiness and success nowadays. As for the ones who are paired up, couples are also waiting later in life to get married and settle down in their own independent households, in comparison to the older generations. A typical Hong Kong single income is hardly sustainable for quality independent living, which makes moving out all the more difficult.
• Financial instability from high layoff rates. Companies are downsizing, and no longer hiring the same number of people they used to. Instead of having each person fill individual roles, the same individual is now fulfilling multi-roles,therefore less manpower is required.
• Low employment rate that is exponentially dwindling over time. Although the unemployment rate of the city is at just 3%, there is an increasingly large group of millennials who are seeking different forms of employment that stray away from the accepted traditional paths that our parents and grandparents followed. Self-employment and freelancing work is the new norm, over a 9-5 job. People in this age bracket want more autonomy and to break away from the chains of corporate careers, so many have moved back home in order to sustain their startup businesses.
• Millennials who are living at home actually like and enjoy doing so because it’s a smart way to save money for personal and business uses. Without the need to pay for sky-high rent, the city’s millennials can enjoy the disposable income that otherwise would not be available to them.People are seeing this as an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. They can enjoy the benefits of quality and luxurious home life without any financial losses. Most parents in Asia are happy to live with their children for periods much longer than their western counterparts, it’s a way of life that has long been instilled into asian cultures. As a result, it’s a win-win for all parties involved. Unless you have no choice (like most expats and international students), it makes perfect sense to consolidate expenses as a family instead of practicing the “every man for himself” lifestyle.