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Return to the roost: More 25- to 34-year-olds move back in with parents

SYCAMORE – Since 21-year-old Jake Olson can’t afford to live on his own as he used to, he has moved back in with his parents in Sycamore.

Olson spent two years living independently in a dormitory and later in an apartment in North Dakota while studying first at North Dakota State University his freshman year and at University of North Dakota his sophomore year.

When his parents moved from North Dakota to Sycamore in January, he packed his bags, too. He is now taking online courses in botany at the University of Phoenix while working at Blumen Gardens in Sycamore.

“I’m saving money for school, life,” he said. “I’m trying to get out [of my parents’ house]. I’ll move out once I’m back at school this spring, hopefully.”

Olson may become part of a growing trend of boomerang kids, or young adults who return to live with their parents after college. The number of people ages 25 to 34 living at home increased to 18.1 percent in 2012, double the amount in 1980, according to a recent report from the Pew Research Center.

Another Pew report on boomerang kids finds 78 percent of them do not have enough money to live the kind of life they would like compared to 55 percent of their same-aged peers who did not live with their parents.

The popularity of boomerang kids caught the attention of American Realty, 519 W. State St., Sycamore. The business posted signs reading, “Boomerang kids need space too,” about two weeks ago because Jake Olson’s mother, Lori, works there as a marketing consultant.

Lori Olson shared her experiences raising four children ranging in ages from 21 to 11 with Alison Rosenow, the owner and managing broker of American Realty in Sycamore.

Rosenow said she has personally seen the effects boomerang children have on their parents. Some older parents who are looking to downsize from living in a house to a townhouse now have to factor in whether their grown child will move in with them, Rosenow said.

This is a new phenomenon Rosenow has only seen in the past few years.

“That financial burden is another person in your household that you’re accommodating for extra space for that person and extra utilities for that person,” Rosenow said. “Bills could still go up.”

Some current Northern Illinois University students are already planning their future so they don’t end up back home. Chicago native and NIU freshman Luis Centeno wants to attend law school. While he hasn’t decided his major yet, he said he will get a job related to whatever field of study he chooses before he heads to law school.

“I heard law school is competitive,” Centeno said. “Maybe my first year, I won’t get in.”

Meanwhile, NIU psychology major Emma Lange, 22, of Schaumburg, said she is plans to pursue a master’s degree in psychology upon graduation. She hasn’t given much thought to the possibility of living back with her father if things don’t go as planned.

“I think he’d feel proud I accomplished something,” Lange said. “I’d feel upset because I’d feel stuck. I imagine I’d keep going with my independence and not start back at square one.”

Lori Olson’s decision to allow her 21-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter, Jenna, to live with her at home wasn’t difficult. She said she would rather they live at home than spend her money paying for their housing.

Lori Olson estimated she paid about $5,000 for all of her children’s college tuition this year. Her kids do not pay rent but help around the house with chores and caring for their younger siblings.

“I wouldn’t want to be 19 again,” Lori Olson said. “Jobs are tight in a tough economic situation in Illinois. These kids have a lot more pressure. Expectations were different 30 years ago: When you turned 18 or 19, you moved out.”

Jake Olson does not want to stay living at home for much longer, although he doesn’t mind getting his laundry and dishes done for him.

Instead, Jake Olson is focused on pursuing a business degree this spring at NIU and saving up about $2,000 in order to pay for a security deposit and a few months’ rent for an apartment.

In the meantime, he still finds time to relax. Jake Olson went fishing this weekend at Lake Michigan and caught some salmon.

“I’m just chilling right now,” he said. “I’m not rushing really.”

By the numbers

Percentage of Americans ages 25 to 34 living in multigenerational households

1940: 27.7

1950: 21.1

1960: 14.1

1970: 11.6

1980: 11

1990: 15.2

2000: 15.8

2010: 21.6

Source: Pew Research Center

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