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Young adults struggle to move away from home

Whether it’s lagging salaries or soaring costs, young adults across the region aren’t ready to leave home.

With its high cost of living and proximity to New York City, young people across southwestern Connecticut say they’re feeling the economic pressures prompting them to live with their parents. Many say they have plans to cut out on their own, but the future is uncertain.

In Connecticut, almost a quarter of young adults live at home, based on information from 60,000 loan applicants by Earnest, a tech-focused loan provider.

Starting salaries lagging behind inflation coupled with ballooning student debts prevent many recent graduates from affording mortgage and even rental payments, said Bob Reby, CEO of Danbury-based Reby Advisors. As a result, young adults’ decisions to defer moving away from home is more a matter of necessity than choice. This is a “systemic societal problem,” he said.

“What I’m seeing is young people, as talented as they are, having salaries that are not keeping up with the ability to buy a home at the age their parents or grandparents were when they bought their first home,” Reby said. “Inflation adjusted, it’s a fraction of what people earned in the 1980s out of school. Even renting is a challenge. If renting is a challenge, buying a house is definitely a challenge. Then, if there’s college debt, that’s something else they have to deal with.”

Reby advises clients to spend no more than 28 to 32 percent of their gross income on housing, whether it’s renting or buying a home. But he often sees people making financial decisions based on expected salaries in the future, rather than the present, he said.

Derby resident Alexandra Pisco, 23, said financial restraints are the main reason she still lives with her parents.

She had planned to move away six months after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Bridgeport in May 2015. That plan broke down when she failed to pass the physical exam that would have allowed her to apply to become a police officer. A car accident has since rendered her unable to retake the exam.

As a backup, Pisco took a full-time position as coordinator for student employment and career development at UB. She’s now saving up with hopes of moving out this year.

Ricky Grasso, 23, of Newtown, said he has a “fair amount” of friends who, like him, live at home with their parents. He lives with his mother and stepfather due to limited finances while he finishes his master’s degree.

At the college level, University of Connecticut-Stamford students Kalea Coles, 20, of Stratford, and Dre’Ana Grant, 18, of Norwalk, also live with their parents, which they say is due to Stamford’s pricey real estate. Both said they work two part-time jobs. They have high hopes the UConn apartments planned to open this fall will provide a feasible alternative.

“The commute takes away from studying; it makes you tired,” Cole said of her ride, which takes about an hour and a half each way. “Working two part-time jobs, being a double major in the honors program and doing stuff for med school, it’s kind of hard to juggle it all.”

Greenwich doesn’t see as many young adults returning to live with their parents, but a dwindling supply of homes priced for young homebuyers has had an effect on the community, according to longtime Greenwich resident David Rafferty. The town has a history of attracting young homebuyers who want to start their new families in the same town they grew up, Rafferty said.

“You used to see young folks moving back into small homes and re-joining the community, but now they’re priced out of it,” he said.

Unlike Stamford and Norwalk, Greenwich doesn’t have a large supply of rentals that appeal to young professionals. Projects like the JLoft apartments downtown are working to change Greenwich’s reputation for limited housing geared toward young people and those with more average incomes.

At the state level, the General Assembly is aware of the state’s limited housing options for recent college graduates, and has attempted to address the situation for the last few years.

Between 2013 and 2016, the Legislature has annually proposed forms of a bill that would allow graduates of Connecticut colleges and universities to take income tax deductions of up to $1,200 covering 10 percent of their payments for mortgage or rental leases.

The Assembly has yet to vote on the proposed Young Professionals Urban Housing incentives, which would have applied for those carrying at least $20,000 in debt. In 2015, the legislative Office of Fiscal Analysis estimated up to 24,000 graduates would qualify for the program annually, and that if in effect for the 2017 fiscal year the incentive would have cost the state at least $21 million annually.

The bill has received the support of legislators but opposition from state agency heads under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on grounds funding and staff resources cannot be freed up for the incentive given the state’s precarious budget. As of Tuesday, a bill had yet to be introduced in the 2017 legislative session.

Source: Florida Realtors

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