Where are Illinois millennials living?

Kate Scott DalyTruth in Accounting

Aug 31, 2017

Surprisingly, millennials aren’t just spending their money on avocado toast and iPhones. Turns out, we also want to find a safe and comfortable place to live. Where can we go? We also have to deal with the challenge of finding a safe and comfortable place to live. What are the most realistic options available to us given the massive amount of student debt most of us have?

The state of Illinois, which has historically had a high percentage of homeowners, experienced a large increase in renters in the past decade. Truth in Accounting’s State Data Lab shows that while the population for Illinois increased from 2006–2010, the number of home sales decreased. This means that while more people may have been moving into the state, the number of homes being sold went down.

Source: Truth in Accounting

Source: Truth in Accounting

Since the market crash of 2009, buying a house has been a somewhat uneasy topic amongst prospective homeowners across the country. For those grappling with student loan debt and entry level salaries, however, the situation is even worse. CNBC reported last year that while there was a substantial drop in home buying in all age groups, the drop amongst millennials was the worst. Home purchases dropped by over 21 percent for adults under 35 years old. The average cost of a home in Illinois is $220,844, according to Zillow, and while the average price of a home has dropped in the past 14 years, Illinois mortgage rates are still higher than the national average.

College graduation levels are at an all-time high, but that comes with a hefty price. TD Ameritrade’s Young Money Survey showed that the average amount of tuition that recent college grads need to pay off after graduation is between $10,000-$50,000. To put that in perspective, the average cost of tuition for one year of college was only $9,500 in 1980. This amount equates to approximately $21,000 per year for Millennials. Between 2005 and 2015 the national average for individual student debt rose from $18,000 to $27,802.

Source: Truth in Accounting

Source: Truth in Accounting

Renting isn’t always an option either. While Chicago has often been a city of renters due to the price of owning a home within city limits, rent prices are going up across the board. According to State Data Lab, the median monthly rent for Chicago in 2015 was $985, which increased from $794 in 2014. In addition, a recent study by Rentcafe showed that the rent prices across Chicagoland suburbs have increased in the past several years due to a growing demand in rentals. More renters are having to rely on roommates or romantic partners to share the bills. Crains reported in 2011 that the number of Illinois residents aged 15–34 living with non-relatives increased from 6.1% to 8.3%, and this number has risen since then.

More of us are choosing to live with our parents to save money. A recent Census study found that approximately 31 percent of adults aged 18–34 are currently living with their parents, compared to 26% of baby boomers in 1975. Illinois ranks higher than the national average, with 36 percent of millennials living at home. Those who have chosen to live at home are doing so mainly to save money. Despite the increase in rent and housing costs alongside the cost of living, the national wage has stagnated over the past 40 years. According to a study from MIT, an adult would need to make $11.72 an hour to support their family. The minimum wage in Illinois is currently $8.25 an hour and $11.00 an hour in the City of Chicago.

So, what should millennials do? We’re left with few options. We either have to find a roommate or live with mom and dad (both of which provide very little privacy). To pay off our college debt, we could assume a fake identity to avoid student loan payments, or we could take that second job as a bartender to pay off our loans. If we want to move out and live on our own, we could try that old-school tactic of marrying wealthy and living off our new spouse and in-laws.

And, of course, we could sell our iPhones to afford health insurance and stop buying avocado toast.

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