When Savannah King left her parents’ home in Haile Plantation in 2014 and moved into a college-oriented apartment complex, 2nd Avenue Centre in downtown Gainesville, it was one of the biggest steps she had ever taken.
But her decision to move back in with her parents a year later wasn’t.
The complex announced that it would be increasing the rent on King’s two-bedroom apartment to $725 from $699 – and placing her outside of her already maximized budget, she said.
“Do I waste this money or do I come home to a clean home, cooked meals, my comfortable bed and the best support in the world, all for free? It wasn’t a hard choice,” King, a 20-year-old sociology major at UF, said.
Before enrolling in UF, King attended Santa Fe College for two years, taking the familiar 8-mile route from her family’s home to school everyday. Her decision to move away from home — and to subsequently move back — reflects a growing trend.
She is among the 36.4 percent of American women aged 18 to 34 who live at home with family members rather than on their own — a trend that hasn’t been as widespread since the 1940s, according to a Pew Research Center study published Wednesday.
Based on 2014 U.S. Census Bureau data, the study cites that young women as well as men are increasingly choosing to live in their childhood home, with college students being the most likely overall to live at home.
Compared with 36.2 percent in 1940, young women like King are remaining home with parents or relatives for different reasons than those in the World War II era.
In 1940, 62 percent of women aged 18 to 34 were married, but 2013 data from the study illustrates that women in that demographic are half as likely to be married today, with only 30 percent wedded.
Currently, women are five times more likely to be enrolled in college, with 2014 figures showing 27 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds enrolled in college versus 5 percent of young women in 1960.
The study shows 45 percent of females in this age bracket and living at home today were in college, compared to 33 percent who were not.
In 2014, 42.8 percent of men between 18 and 34 also lived at home with parents or relatives.
Dan Fox, a 22-year-old business marketing UF graduate, landed his dream job with a Fortune 500 company after graduating in May. It’s even better, he said, because he lives for free at home in Lutz, Fla., while getting paid and saving for the future.
“I don’t have to pay rent, or for food, and so far it’s been nice living with my parents and brother and being able to spend time with them,” said Fox, now a product support representative for Fidelity National Information Services.
Fox said he plans to remain at home for at least another year, because his parents haven’t pushed him to leave anytime soon. But his living situation, he said, still requires patience.
“It’s hard, I can’t have people over all the time and it’s isolating,” he said. “It’s definitely limiting, and one of the biggest cons, but I made the choice for a reason, and it doesn’t outweigh the pros.”
Despite the trend, 14 years of experience in the Gainesville housing market have shown Vanessa Neal that statistics do not dictate business here.
“I haven’t seen any of these trends specifically, and I don’t think students or people have been choosing not to move into the area,” said Neal, the general manager for Apartment Hunters, a Gainesville-based rental locator agency that serves thousands every year.
Neal said that new development and redevelopment of older apartment complexes in Gainesville have contributed to the gradual change she’s seen in her business.
“If you asked me a couple of years ago, 800 dollars for a one bedroom in Gainesville was expensive, but now that is more standard and acceptable in the mid range,” she said.
“There’s a lot of older inventory here, but land and cost of construction for new apartments are different. There’s a change there due to being new.”
Neal said she hasn’t seen a decline in young women nor men within her clientele, but does believe the demographic is slowly expanding, she said.
“There’s been a decent mix and increase in younger working professionals who have entered the market here,” she said. “We used to be very student-dependent, but there’s definitely been a change in the market that has also changed that.”
King said she doesn’t plan on moving out of her childhood room and her family’s home until she graduates.
For one thing, she’d miss her mother’s cooking and her dog Zoe — but King said she also needs to save up to move out when she graduates in 2017.
For now, King said she is happy living in the home that holds so many memories for her. It’s a nice reminder of where she came from and where she’s going.
“I feel bad for some of my friends, sometimes,” she said. “They might laugh at me for staying at home, but I think I’m the one who really has the last laugh.”