House-Sharing: Americans Are Changing the Way They Live

Some pretty fascinating stats in this Marketwatch piece on how so many more people are living life as if they are in their early 20s.  We’ve talked about this in the past few years – how even divorced couples are still living under the same roof, as they can’t afford to physically separate,and the influx of adult children (I’m not talking those in their 20s but those in their 30s and 40s) moving back in with their parents.

The bearish take here is that many of the former middle class no longer have the capacity to be out on their own.  (also one imagines some of these are college grads the past few years who never made it into their career path and are enjoying the ‘barista’ lifestyle).  The bullish take will be that provides a lot of latent demand coming for the next housing boom.  Surely the truth is somewhere in the middle, but nearly 8M Americans have moved into these ‘doubled up’ situations since 2007 – that is a staggering figure.  Keep in mind household ownership is now back down to levels not seen since 1996.

  • In today’s economy many are finding it necessary to share living space.  These aren’t just friends turned roommates. Couples, multigenerational families and people with no relationship to each other are joining the growing ranks of those who are in “doubled-up” households. Technically, these are households with at least one additional adult who is not in school, and not the householder’s spouse or partner.
  • This year about 30% of adults, 69.2 million people, are living in doubled-up households, compared with 27.7%, or 61.7 million, in 2007, according to a September report on income, poverty and health insurance from the Census Bureau.
  • In spring 2011, there were 21.8 million doubled-up households, or 18.3% of all households, up from 19.7 million, or 17%, in spring 2007.
  • While the benefits of house-sharing are clear — splitting expenses and pooling resources — running such a household can be tricky. Even within a single-family household, the daily morning chaos of getting everyone out the door on time, clean and happy, is no low bar. Now double that.

Trader Mark is the author of Fund My Mutual Fund.

Further Reading: Another Housing Plan to Boost Demand and Save the Real Estate Market>>