Americans Double Up to Make Do

Written by: Steve Cook   Fri, October 14, 2011 Beyond Today's News, Consumer Reports, Consumer Trends

During the Depression, few American homes had an empty bedroom.  The housing recession of the past four years has made empty spare rooms a luxury again by freezing families in place for years and limiting their housing choices.

The latest numbers from Census’ Current Population Survey found there are more than 3 million more “doubled-up” households, homes occupied by at least one “additional” adult, a person age 18 or older who is not enrolled in school and is not the householder or spouse.

In spring 2007, there were 19.7 million doubled-up households, amounting to 17.0 percent of all households. In the spring of 2011, the number of such households jumped to 21.8 million, or 18.3 percent. In total, 61.7 million adults, or 27.7 percent, were doubled-up in 2007, rising to 69.2 million, or 30.0 percent, in 2011.

The number of young adults living at home is rising.  Some 5.9 million people ages 25 to 34 living in their parents’ household in 2011, up from 4.7 million before the recession. The remaining 14.2 percent of young adults lived in their parents’ households in March 2011, up more than two percentage points over the period.

A March 2010 survey by found that a variety of ways that the housing recession has forced some homeowners to make serious sacrifices or changes to their lifestyle as they wait for conditions to improve.  Just over two-thirds (69.1 percent) of homeowners who have delayed selling their home reduced their daily living expenses in order to pay their mortgage, 35.4 percent have downsized to a smaller home, and 33.5 percent have delayed expanding their family as planned.

Approximately one-third (36 percent) of homeowners not in a position to sell their home and purchase a home that better fits their needs, report they couldn’t purchase a different home in a more upscale neighborhood as a result.  This was especially true for women (45.1 percent) compared to men (27.2 percent). In addition, 24 percent of homeowners say they’ve not been able to move closer to work or a desired school (21.9 percent), purchase a second vacation home or retirement home, or buy a rental property as an investment (21.5 percent) as a result of their current situation.

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