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posted: 8/28/2011 6:00 AM

Adult children living with parents on rise

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  • Christy Landrigan, 25, right, poses for photos with her parents, Mike and Rebecca, center, and her brother Kevin, in Fort Wayne. Christy has chosen to move back in with her parents and brother while she finishes college at Fort Wayne Indiana Purdue University.

      Christy Landrigan, 25, right, poses for photos with her parents, Mike and Rebecca, center, and her brother Kevin, in Fort Wayne. Christy has chosen to move back in with her parents and brother while she finishes college at Fort Wayne Indiana Purdue University.
    Cathie Rowand/The Journal-Gazette

 
The Journal Gazette

FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- Christy Landrigan never expected to be living with her parents at 25.

But she doesn't regret it.

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"I don't have any debt right now, and I don't know how many 25-year-olds can say that," she said. "I consider myself very lucky."

Landrigan of Fort Wayne belongs to a growing number of adults who have moved back in with their parents. Adult children living at home climbed from 19 percent to 22 percent in Allen County between 2000 and 2010, according to recently released census figures.

The census counted more than 24,500 adults living with their parents in Allen County, and the trend was reflected throughout Indiana. Statewide, nearly one in four children living with their parents is age 18 or older, according to the census -- an increase from one in five in 2000.

Landrigan had a full-time retail management job -- complete with benefits and a 401(k) -- when she graduated from high school in 2005 and began attending classes at IPFW.

Landrigan, the second-oldest of six, said her parents set an expectation with all their children that they would go to college and pay for college themselves. She began her studies in political science and economics, with the intention of becoming a lobbyist.

After more than a year of trying to juggle her 40-hour-plus-overtime workweek and 15 college credit hours, she decided to move to Bloomington to attend IU full time, with the intention of quitting her job.

Her company fought to keep her and offered her moving expenses and a promotion. But when she arrived in Bloomington, the company had an issue with her plan to attend school full time.

She quit school and decided to live and work in Bloomington -- for a while.

"It was a really great learning and growing experience, but it wasn't helping me achieve the goals I set for myself," Landrigan said.

She moved home, back to her childhood bedroom and to classes at IPFW.

CollegeGrad.com, an entry-level job search website, says its online surveys have shown an annual increase since the middle of the last decade of college graduates moving home after graduation. In recent years, online media have devoted themselves to the phenomenon, creating resources for parents and adult children alike.

Knowing her situation was common didn't make the decision easier, Landrigan said. There are those who tell her she needs to move out in order to grow as a person. She's read articles about "boomerang kids" and "extended adolescence," terms she rejects because she believes they imply adults who live with parents are a societal drag.

Landrigan, who belongs to the Junior League of Fort Wayne and is on the Fort Wayne Urban Gardening board, said she's trying to do good things for the community.

Her community involvement has introduced her to many other twentysomethings who are active forces in the community -- and who live with their parents. In the economic downturn, she's watched many of her peers endure pay cuts and take jobs without benefits; she now works an hourly job at the Downtown Improvement District.

The solidarity has helped convince her it'll be worthwhile to hold the course of living at home while she finishes school - in finance and economics.

Landrigan said the experience has drawn her closer to both her parents and her siblings at home.

"The small degree of freedom I'm giving up is completely meaningless in the grand scheme of things," she said.

When her parents, Michael and Rebecca Landrigan, were married, they were 21 and 20, respectively. Michael Landrigan said they went from their parents' homes to their married home.

But Christy Landrigan's father said her moving home has been the logical way for her to take control of her finances during a difficult economic time.

So far, it has been a fairly smooth experience for both daughter and parents; if occasionally the house seems full, the inconvenience is countered by family togetherness the Landrigans wouldn't have otherwise.

"The day she moves out, I'll cry," he said. "It's a lot of fun."

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