Making ends meet
Growing up in Medford, 24-year-old Jessica Teresi never imagined the typical “American dream” would feel so out of reach by the time she got to the point it was her turn to live it.
About to turn 25, Teresi has a good-paying job, a baby son and plenty of ambition to work hard for what she wants. Over the past year, however, thanks to skyrocketing rents and the chaos of the ongoing pandemic, she found herself moving back home with her parents, grateful for help with housing costs and child care for her 2-year-old.
Teresi is not alone.
A whopping near-half of young adults in Oregon have ‘boomeranged' back to their parent’s homes over the past year, according to a study by ISoldMyHouse.com. The study incorporated some 3,500 households, with 40% reporting that young adults, ages 18-35, had moved back in with parents.
Some 20% of parents in Oregon said they felt burdened by this, with 15% saying they had to delay retirement plans in order to support adult children.
In Teresi’s case, she’s working full-time, and her mom, Roberta Teresi, was eager to have her daughter and grandson move home from the East Coast and to share space again. Still, Teresi is torn between gratitude for a place to land and a desire to make her own way.
With the average rent for homes up by nearly 8% in a year, and some areas as high as 12%, Teresi said that finding some property on which to settle down feels unrealistic.
According to market statistics accompanying the ISoldMyHouse survey, rent for single-family homes has reached a 15-year high, and housing prices have jumped 26% over the past year.
“I grew up here, born and raised in Medford,”Teresi said. “We weren’t exactly rich or anything, but we’ve had a good life. The hardest thing, though, has been the prices on housing. Even the one- or two-bedroom apartments keep going up so much that I, as one person, can’t afford to get into one. I know a lot of people with two-income households who are even struggling,” she said.
“To live on my own and work to afford child care and everything else, besides rent, it’s too much. And nobody will rent to you unless you make three and four times the rent amount. You grow up thinking about how life is going to be, and now in 2021 I don’t know hardly anybody my age who has their own home or is not living with at least somebody.”
Roberta Teresi said she sympathizes with young adults trying to spread their wings.
“Everything is so uncertain. It’s enough to make the sanest person feel really anxious. It’s a different world than it once was. When we moved up here from Long Beach in the early ‘90s, a small one-bedroom apartment in Long Beach was almost $900. When we moved here, we were paying less than a third of that for a house in the Applegate,” she said.
“One income used to do it, but if you had a two-income household, you were doing good and had extra money to save money to buy a house and have a little left over.”
With so much uncertainty in the world, she’s happy to have her family close, though she admits larger living quarters would be ideal.
“I don’t mind one tiny bit that they’re back, but I wouldn’t mind a bigger place with separate living quarters. If I had more room, I could handle all the kids moving home,” she said with a laugh.
For Medford parents Kathy and Bryan Greager, the housing market and other obstacles not only prompted their three adult children to need to live at home, but the couple were unable to attain home ownership even as they ventured into their 50s. An unexpected notice from their longtime landlord, hoping to cash in on housing prices by selling his property, prompted a creative solution when the couple became co-homeowners with 30-year-old Michael, 23-year-old Eden and 21-year-old Connor.
“None of them had been able to afford living on their own, and we all realized it was just an impossibility in this market. When the opportunity came up for us to buy the house, none of us could afford to buy it on our own, so we banded together,” said Kathy Greager.
“It wasn’t something we ever planned on, but we didn’t have much of a choice. With the rental market the way it is, when the landlord said, ‘By the way, I’m selling the house,’ it was a bit of a scramble to make it happen. I don’t know what we would have done if we had to find a rental.”
Greager said the household dynamics, with adult children, is certainly different.
“It throws a little twist in there. They are obviously still our kids, but they’re also adults now, and they own a fifth of the house. What used to be ‘because I said so,’ has become, ‘Let’s take a vote.’ said the mom.
“The cool thing is they’ll always have a place that is theirs. They’re on the deed, and we all own equal shares of it.”
Added Brian Greager, “It’s a lot more than we had at their ages. It gives them something to build on.”
Teresi acknowledged the stress of feeling “in limbo” but said she was grateful to have family support despite wishing the world felt less volatile.
“Even having a good job and good pay, I would have to have two or three roommates just to be struggling to afford my own place. And it wouldn’t be my own if I had to have roommates,” she said.
“It’s hard to realize that I’m nearly 25 and I have yet to go to college because I haven’t been able to afford life in general, but I have to believe things will get better. And I’m grateful to have my family. We all just have to keep doing what we can do and help each other when we can.”
Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at firstname.lastname@example.org.