Young adults don’t like to live alone. They’d rather have a roommate who is a friend, relative, stranger, or even their parents. That’s according to new research from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
But seeking housemates is not a desperate move. These folks are simply being rational: Having a roommate makes financial sense. This was a strong trend in recent years, as an economic downturn affected Millennials with loads of college debt and low income levels.
But, a funny thing has happened. Once the economic outlook became sunnier, the trend didn’t reverse course. “In total, one in three young adults — or more than 15 million — between the ages of 25 to 34 years old now lives with either their parents, relatives or is sharing housing with nonrelatives,” writes Natalia Siniavskaia on the NAHB research.
While not all young adults live with their parents, many are living in the same communities as or near new-home communities as their parents. Plus, because today’s new-home communities offer resort-style communities and walkable areas, Millennials and Baby Boomers are moving to urban areas with exceptional home offerings.
Why? These townhome and condo communities are like apartment communities, with the conveniences that come with apartment living: communal spaces, walkable/live-work-play areas with pools, maintenance-free outdoor areas and proximity to shopping, dining and nightlife.
Taylor Brown is a Millennial homeowner at 5401 North, a master-planned community in Raleigh, N.C. Homes here include single-family units, as well as townhomes and condos for buyers of all ages. The community includes amenities such as a community farm, pool, walking trails, a dog park, tree-lined streets, and is in close proximity to downtown Raleigh. Brown says she enjoys being able to walk to the grocery store or grab a cup of coffee without having to leave the neighborhood.
“I would encourage people my age to buy and be in a community like this because it’s something that people my age enjoy: walk, shop and having everything be as accessible as it is,” says Brown.
The difference in these new-home communities and apartments is that the homes are owned and homeowners are gaining equity, not flushing money down the toilet on rent. Renters are quickly learning that a mortgage payment can be comparable to monthly rent, so why not buy a new home?
If you’re concerned about affording a new home and don’t want the maintenance required of a single-family home, a townhome or condo may be a viable option. Many empty nesters are moving into communities like this and sharing the expense with their grown children. It’s a great way for adult children to be on their own, but still be close enough to do laundry at Mom’s.
“My son said ‘Dad, we bought a house at 5401 North — you should come look at it,’ ” says Thomas Norman, a homeowner at 5401 North. “My wife had already talked about downsizing to a smaller home for us. … It’s really nice because he is a pilot and when he is on the road, I am able to help him and assist with the grandchildren, drive them wherever they might need to go.”
“And with restaurants being so close, it’s nice not having to get in the car and have to drive anywhere,” Norman adds.
Newly built townhomes and condos in work-live-play communities are helping to bridge the gap between generations by offering a variety of home types with amenities typically found in urban centers.
Patricia L. Garcia is an award-winning freelance journalist who has written for NewHomeSource, the Associated Press, New Mexico magazine and the Texas Bar Journal. When not writing, she can be found in the garden, battling weeds and high-desert heat.