Housing

Housing decisions are intertwined with people's relationships and their finances. As they enter adulthood, many young adults live with their parents, but as they get older, they tend to live independently or with a spouse or partner. However, some older adults also live with parents in order to provide care to them.

Where people live and who they live with took on a particular significance in 2020 because of restrictions on being outside of the home. Fewer people reported moving in 2020 compared with previous surveys. In contrast to 2019, however, those who moved ("movers") in 2020—particularly movers with at least a bachelor's degree—were more likely to move farther from their usual workplaces. In general, these moves were voluntary, although financial difficulties can contribute to forced moves due to evictions. Renters with children were more likely to report an eviction than other renters.

Households

Eighty-five percent of adults lived with other people in 2020, usually a spouse or a partner and frequently their children under age 18 (table 12). Half of all adults lived in a household with a spouse or partner or with a child under age 18 and with no one else. However, a sizable number lived in other types of households. For example, 28 percent lived in a household that contains multiple generations of adults, meaning that the adult respondents either lived with their parents or adult children. Households sometimes contained other relatives, as well as non-relatives, but these arrangements were less common.

Table 12. Other people living in household
Category Percent
Live alone 14
Spouse or partner 65
Children under age 18 25
Adult children 16
Parents 13
Brothers or sisters 6
Other relatives 4
Other non-relatives 5

Note: Among all adults. Adult children includes those in school and not in school. Respondents (other than those who live alone) can select multiple answers.

Older adults, and older women in particular, were the most likely to live alone. Twenty-two percent of adults age 65 or older lived alone, and 29 percent of women age 65 or older lived alone. For adults age 75 or older, the shares were higher.

Adults in their early 20s were very likely to live with their parents. But by their mid and late 20s, young adults were more likely to live with spouses or partners. The share of young adults living with a parent fell with age, from 46 percent of 22- to 24-year-olds to 26 percent of 25- to 29-year-olds. Conversely, the share living with a spouse or partner increased with age, from 29 percent of 22- to 24-year-olds to 55 percent of 25- to 29-year-olds.31

Adults who lived with their parents most commonly did so to save money, and this was especially true for young adults. Overall, nearly three-fourths of people who lived with their parents said they lived with others to save money. Among adults ages 22 to 29, nearly 90 percent said that they did so to save money (table 13). Older adults who lived with their parents were less likely to give this reason, however. A larger share of adults ages 30 to 44 who lived with their parents received assistance with childcare than was the case for younger adults.

Table 13. Reasons for living with parents (by age)

Percent

Reason 22–24 25–29 30–44 45–59
To save money 90 87 68 43
To help those living with me financially 33 46 51 57
To care for family member or friend 24 42 57 83
To receive help with childcare 5 9 18 8
Prefer living with others 43 44 35 18

Note: Among people living with parents. Respondents could select multiple answers.

Another common reason for living with parents was to provide care, especially as people get older. Forty-four percent of people who lived with their parents gave this reason. Adults in their 30s, 40s, and 50s who lived with their parents were more likely to say that they lived with others for caregiving reasons. Eighty-three percent of 45- to 59-year-olds who lived with their parents said they lived with others to provide care.

Changes in Household Composition

Eighteen percent of adults changed who they lived with in 2020, and these changes were more common among younger adults. Almost one-third of 22- to 24-year-olds changed who they lived with, compared with 24 percent of those in their late 20s. A smaller 16 percent of those in their 30s or early 40s did so. However, the frequency of changes in who people lived with increased slightly among 45- to 59-year-olds to 19 percent, possibly because of adult children moving out, or sometimes back in.

In keeping with the age patterns, it was much more common for people who had a household change to live with parents or their adult children. Seventeen percent of those who reported a change in household members lived with their parents, and 23 percent lived with their adult children.

Some people said that COVID-19 was a factor in their household change. Just under 4 in 10 people who changed who they lived with attributed it to COVID-19. Among those who expected the change to be temporary, COVID-19 was more of a factor. For those with temporary changes in the composition of their household, half attributed the change to COVID-19.32

Adults who said their household changed because of COVID-19 were more likely to be living with parents, adult children, siblings, or non-relatives than those whose household changed for other reasons (table 14). Thirty percent of people who changed who they lived with due to COVID-19 said that they lived with their adult children at the time of the survey, and 20 percent said they lived with their parents. Each rate is higher than that seen among people whose change in their household was not related to COVID-19.

Table 14. Other people living in the household among those who changed who they live with (by whether the household change was for COVID-related reasons)

Percent

Category Change not due to COVID-19 Change due to COVID-19
Live alone 16 9
Spouse or partner 58 66
Children under age 18 25 29
Adult children 19 30
Parents 16 20
Brothers or sisters 6 11
Other relatives 6 7
Other non-relatives 12 15

Note: Among people who changed who they lived with in 2020. Respondents could select multiple answers.

Moving

Fewer people reported moving in 2020 than in recent years. Seventeen percent of all adults said they moved to their home within the past two years, including 9 percent who moved into their current home in 2020. The share of adults who moved within the past two years is down 3 percentage points from 2019 and 4 percentage points from 2018. Also, relatively few people made long distance moves—only 2 percent of all adults moved across state lines in 2020.

Moving was generally associated with an increasing distance from family, friends, and other informal supports, and the pattern has continued in 2020. Thirty percent of people who moved in 2020 said they moved farther away from family, while 23 percent said they moved closer (figure 23). Thirty-six percent said they moved farther from friends, compared with 17 percent who moved closer.

Figure 23. Distance to friends, families, and workplaces after moving in 2020
Figure 23. Distance to friends, families, and workplaces after moving in 2020

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Note: Among people who moved in 2020. Distance relative to one's usual workplace is among employed adults. Key identifies bars in order from left to right.

People who moved into their homes in 2020 were more likely than those who moved in 2019 to have moved away from their usual workplace. More employed adults who moved said that they moved away from their workplace than said they moved closer to work (31 percent versus 26 percent). In 2019, those who moved were slightly more likely to move closer to work (28 percent) than farther away (26 percent).

Workers with at least a bachelor's degree were particularly likely to move away from workplaces, which may reflect their higher rates of remote work during the pandemic. Thirty-six percent of employed adults with at least a bachelor's degree who moved in 2020 moved away from their usual workplace. This exceeds the 25 percent of movers with a high school degree or less who moved away from work.

Additionally, the relationship is the reverse of that seen among people who moved into their current home in 2019. Twenty-four percent of movers with at least a bachelor's degree moved away from work in 2019, compared with 32 percent of those with a high school degree or less.

There is, however, some indication that people expected that movements away from workplaces could be temporary. Thirty-six percent of people who moved away from their workplace in 2020 said that they did not expect to be living in their current homes a year after the survey. This exceeds the 29 percent of all people who moved in 2020 who expected to still be in their new homes after a year.

Homeownership

Nearly two-thirds of adults owned their homes, though young adults, as well as Black and Hispanic adults, were less likely to own. Twenty-nine percent of 18- to 29-year-olds owned their homes, compared with 85 percent of people age 60 and older (figure 24). Young adults under age 30 were more likely than older adults to have housing arrangements other than owning or renting, such as living with a parent rent-free. Seventy percent of White adults owned their homes, as did 65 percent of Asian adults, 51 percent of Black adults, and 50 percent of Hispanic adults (figure 25).

Figure 24. Homeownership rate (by age)
Figure 24. Homeownership rate (by age)

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Note: Among all adults.

Figure 25. Homeownership rate (by race/ethnicity)
Figure 25. Homeownership rate (by race/ethnicity)

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Note: Among all adults.

Many homeowners took advantage of low interest rates in 2020 to refinance their mortgages. One-fifth of all homeowners with a mortgage refinanced their mortgage within the prior year. However, it was predominantly higher-income homeowners who opted to refinance (figure 26). Twenty-six percent of mortgage holders with income of at least $100,000 per year refinanced within the past year, compared to 17 percent of those with income between $50,000 and $100,000 and 12 percent of those with income under $50,000. In addition, Black mortgage holders were less likely to have refinanced within the past year (13 percent) than mortgage holders in other racial or ethnic groups.

Figure 26. Share of homeowners with a mortgage who refinanced in the prior year (by family income)
Figure 26. Share of homeowners with a mortgage who refinanced in the prior year (by family income)

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Note: Among homeowners with a mortgage.

Renting and Evictions

Renting can enable people to move and give them the convenience of not having to manage repairs, among other benefits. But renting can also lead to less stable living arrangements and less control over living spaces and repairs.

One potential convenience of renting is having a landlord who promptly makes repairs. Fifty-three percent of renters said they had a problem that needed to be fixed in the prior 12 months. Seven percent of renters needed a repair but did not attempt to contact their landlord about it. Forty-two percent of renters who attempted to contact their landlord said the landlord resolved the problem with no difficulty. The rest of the time, however, the repair involved at least a little difficulty. Eight percent of renters (17 percent of those who attempted to contact their landlord) said that the repair involved substantial difficulty (table 15). Renters who paid higher rents were more likely to have their problems resolved without experiencing difficulties.

Table 15. Problems with rental units and difficulty getting repairs
Response Percent
No repair needed 47
Needed repairs, but did not contact landlord 7
Difficulty repairing if contacted landlord  
No difficulty with repairs 19
A little difficulty with repairs 12
Moderate difficulty with repairs 7
Substantial difficulty with repairs 8

Note: Among renters.

Renters can also be forced to move through an eviction. Among non-homeowners who reported moving in the last two years, 3 percent said that their last move was due to an eviction or a threat of eviction, essentially unchanged from 2019.33 This represents 3 million adults. Hispanic adults were more likely to report moving due to eviction or the threat of eviction in the past year.

Non-homeowners who lived with a child under 18 were more likely to have been evicted or threatened with an eviction. Five percent of non-homeowners who lived with a child reported an eviction-related move, compared to 3 percent of other non-homeowners.34

 

References

 

 31. Eight percent of 22- to 24-year-olds lived with a spouse, while the other 21 percent were living with a partner that they were not married to. Return to text

 32. Respondents defined household changes as either "temporary" or "permanent" themselves, without prompts about how long a permanent change would have to last. Return to text

 33. Some renters who were evicted may be living with others rent-free at the time of the survey, so the questions are asked of both renters and people who neither own their houses nor pay rent. Return to text

 34. The finding mirrors ethnographic research in Matthew Desmond's Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (New York: Crown, 2016) showing pathways that can lead to evictions and threats of eviction among families with small children. Return to text

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Last Update: May 19, 2021