Homeward bound

More 20-somethings moving back with Mom and Dad as economy sputters

  • Marcos Ceniceros lives with his parents, Larry and Lupe, in Brighton Park.
Marcos Ceniceros lives with his parents, Larry and Lupe, in Brighton Park. (Lenny Gilmore/RedEye )
December 21, 2011|By Tracy Swartz, RedEye

Marcos Ceniceros, 25, is part of a growing movement—back to Mom and Dad's house.

In November, Ceniceros moved into his parents' Brighton Park home after living on his own for two years in Albany Park. Ceniceros said he's trying to save money to finish his sociology degree at DePaul, and the best way to do that was to take on two new roommates: His folks.

"It takes some getting used to again," said Ceniceros, who first moved out at age 23. "[My parents] don't want me to be drinking in the house. They don't want me to have get-togethers with drinking or music."

Forget "Occupy Wall Street." More and more 20- and 30-somethings are occupying a guest room at Mom and Dad's while saving money for school or finding a job, according to Census data released in November.

Like Ceniceros, 19 percent of American men 25 to 34 years old live with their parents, up from 14 percent in 2005. This number jumps for younger men. Nearly 60 percent of men ages 18 to 24 live with their parents, up from 53 percent six years ago.

The fairer sex is faring better. Ten percent of women 25 to 34 years old live with parents, up from 8 percent in 2005, according to the data. Meanwhile, half of women ages 18 to 24 live at home, up from 46 percent six years ago.

These numbers do include college students living in a dormitory, which are counted as living in their parents' home.

Chicagoans who live with their parents told RedEye that while they appreciate that they're able to save money, they sometimes find it difficult to abide by the rules of the roost and they're not optimistic they'll be moving out anytime soon because of the down economy.

Amanda Peña, 23, never expected to be a boomerang kid. Five years ago, she moved out of her mom's Edgewater home and into a place with her boyfriend-turned-fiancé. They eventually grew apart and split.

In the meantime, Peña's credit card debt had grown, so she moved back in with her mom two years ago. She works full time at an apartment complex to pay off her debt and save money to go to school to be an elementary school teacher.

Peña said things have changed at home since her last stay. She pays a little rent now and her old room isn't really her room. The space had been redecorated for her grandmother, who stayed there for a while.

"I don't really have anything that makes me feel like it's my room. [My mom] won't let me put up any posters because it doesn't go with the décor," Peña said. "It kind of feels like I'm in the guest room."

Mom has other rules too. Peña said her mother prefers to know whom she's with and when she's coming home if she's going to be out late.

"It's hard being the age I am living at home. It's kind of hard to go out," Peña said. "I'll probably be there for two more years. I'm hoping not. I'm hoping middle of next year I'll have my stuff paid off."

These living situations are no picnic for the 'rents, either. Four out of five of Lisa Collins' kids live at her Riverside home, including her 29-year-old son, Frank, and her 21-year-old son, Eddie.

Eddie, a junior at Northeastern, never has moved out, while Frank moved into Collins' basement in September after divorcing his wife of five years.

Collins, 51, said she charges neither son rent, but Frank helps out with the cooking and Eddie walks the family's three dogs.

There are drawbacks. Collins said she has to hide her beloved Diet Coke, chocolate chips, bottles of water, low-fat potato chips and Halloween candy in her closet so her sons don't find and steal them. Also, "XBox rules the house. It's ridiculous."

Collins said "not in a million years" did she believe her grown children would be living with her and her husband, but she does see an end to this arrangement in a few months when Eddie graduates and Frank finds a job.

"You figure you raise them and you do a good enough job that they understand the importance of being financially independent," Collins said. "It's going to be nice when they're independently on their own, but it's a double-edged sword. I'll be the first one to whine, 'I wish the kids were still here.'"

Ceniceros, who moved in with his parents in Brighton Park last month, said he hopes he won't have stay much longer. He said he's worked various jobs including barback, after-school coordinator and part-time accountant for a nonprofit group, to pay his school bills.

He said he doesn't have to pay rent to his parents, who are working on creating a space for him in their house. Ceniceros said his brother took his room when he moved out two years ago.

"It's only been a few weeks, but even these few weeks have been challenging in a way," Ceniceros said. "It's still nice to be back home again."


You know you've lived with your parents for too long when…

>>You have matching "his" and "hers" bathrobes with your mom. Hello, "Psycho."

>>You're the third wheel when your significant other comes over for dinner.

>>Your name is first on the answering machine. The fact that you even have an answering machine probably is a red flag as well.

>>The show you watch most is "Wheel of Fortune."

>>You can name all the contestants on "Dancing With the Stars." Thanks, Mom!

tswartz@tribune.com | @tracyswartz

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