Home / Blog / The Millennial's Quandary: Rent, Buy, or Just Stay Home?

The Millennial's Quandary: Rent, Buy, or Just Stay Home?

The intersection of the so-called American Dream and the Millennial Generation - those people born between 1990 and 2000, plus or minus a few years - is a very interesting phenomenon to look at and study. By all accounts, Millennials are the most politically active, technologically savvy, socially conscious generation since, well, ever maybe, yet they routinely fail to find purpose on the path of daily life. Unlike their forebears, the young people of today are not only faced with the challenges of finding a sense of stable place and identity - a difficult thing at the best of times, made more so by the unprecedented rapidity with which the world is changing today - but also with what most would deem the bare existential essentials - steady, appreciable employment, financial solvency and independence, and even simple housing. These things are all facets of a wider issue, but to speak about them all is beyond the scope of this article. Instead, let us focus on the most commonly repeated question from today's young people: When it comes to living arrangements, is it best to rent an apartment, buy one's own home, or to simply bunk with parents until something better comes along? 
It's a direct question with a simple (but surprising) answer - as it turns out, it is often best for the Millennial generation to come back to the nest, as it were, until they find their feet. Read on to learn more.


Renting an apartment or similar living space is probably the most time-honored post-collegiate option. After all, if such an arrangement is good enough for students and the young professionals on television and in the movies, why should it be any less workable a solution in real life? There is wisdom in such thought; the pros of renting are many, and when taken in their totality, they can offer substantial benefits. This is especially true when a person is just starting out in life. Some of the pros of renting can be found below:
  • No worries about repairs or other maintenance-related tasks
  • No property taxes or other incidentals customarily related to home ownership
  • A measure of freedom regarding location, rental conditions, and so forth
  • No need to register utilities in your own name each time you move into a new building
These are just some of the benefits of renting, yet the cons can outweigh them in certain situations. Rent can easily comprise half a person's income (a shocking value which only becomes more onerous when standard bills and student loan payments are factored in), the apartment hunt is often a grueling process, and lease agreements, once made, are not easily broken without consequence. 

Home Ownership

As the cornerstone of American life, owning one's own home is constantly held up to all as the ultimate goal for all self-respecting individual. While owning one's own home is indeed an admirable pursuit, it certainly isn't a one size fits all affair. Property taxes, mortgage payments, the burden of maintenance and improvement upon the property in question, and the inability of owners to simply flit about from place to place when they want to - some people enjoy a sense of "roots", some don't - are just a few of the snags encountered by homeowners, to say nothing of the house-hunting process itself. To say the least, it can all be rather daunting. In fact, home ownership totals for folks ages eighteen to thirty-four are at an all-time low: thirteen percent, give or take a few points. Still, the dream beckons. The following reasons give a glimpse of why that is:
  • Home ownership is inextricably linked with the image and status of the successful, proud American whose toil has resulted in tangible, concrete rewards for themselves and their families
  • Tax breaks for homeowners are many and varied
  • There are various incentive programs which are designed to make home ownership easier than ever, whether it's help finding that first dream home or mortgage refinancing schemes which allow even those of modest means to afford such places
  • The simple pride taken in pointing to a home and being able to say that it's yours is a powerful, almost primal thing
The goal of home ownership is laudable, but with the above-mentioned negative aspects involved, not to mention the persistent instability stemming from the economic cataclysm of 2008, it simply isn't a tenable or even wise option for most Millennials. 

Living at Home with Mom and Dad

The data is jaw-dropping: Almost a third of people between the ages of eighteen and thirty-four still live with their parents. While their Gen x counterparts would've scoffed and rebelled against such a thing, Millennials are finding this arrangement to be not only efficient, but necessary. To be blunt, the world just isn't the same place that it was ten years ago, let alone twenty, and in the minds of most young people today, if living with their parents can cushion them against the often stark realities of adulthood, then so be it. Here are just a few selling points of returning to the next in adulthood:
  • No concerns about rent or a mortgage payment
  • Unparalleled security in one's living arrangements
  • No need to worry about your credit rating, references, and so on
  • Tax offsets and financial aid for those still attending school (this varies, of course)
It's a simple choice, really: When faced with a down market in terms of employment and the dollar itself, rising housing prices - interest rates on housing loans, mortgages, and related financial instruments are set to spike by the end of 2015 - student loan bills, and other such "grown up concerns", having a safe place to rest one's head and gather one's resources without having to spend a full fifty percent of one's salary for the privilege is a gift. As time progresses, more and more of today's young people are seeing it as such, and latching on for dear life. Of course, once they've achieved some semblance of social and economic stability on the back of this temporary respite, many Millennials are quite capable of (and happy to!) strike out on their own, which is as it ought to be.

Conclusion / Closing Thoughts

For the average person, the debate as to whether a person is better off to rent, buy, or stay at home is a simple one to resolve: If you have the chance, don't be afraid or ashamed to move back in with your parents. They'll be glad to have you, and once you see all the benefits to such an arrangement, you'll be glad, too. Then again, one size never quite fits all. Those with pre-assured financial stability should look into buying a home while the favorable climate for financing such a purchase exists. For the rest of the population, renting is a trusted, time-honored, and even beloved option.
Blog Tags: 

Sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Get the latest tips & advice from our team of 30+ credit & money experts, delivered to you via email each month. sign up Now

Yael Kent's picture

Yael Kent is a personal finance enthusiast with experience writing about credit cards, credit repair, debt, and more. In addition to being an editor at Creditnet, she has been featured on Yahoo Finance, Reuters, and other financial sites.

Visit 's Google Plus profile for more.