Home Business Broke boomers are moving in with their millennials kids, who are seething: ‘Where were they when I needed help?’

Broke boomers are moving in with their millennials kids, who are seething: ‘Where were they when I needed help?’

Broke boomers are moving in with their millennials kids, who are seething: ‘Where were they when I needed help?’


Get the guest room ready, because mom and dad are moving in. What sounds like the logline of a ‘90s sitcom is reality for Lars, a college instructor in her late 30s whose boomer parents didn’t save enough for retirement.

“They can no longer sustain the lifestyle they’ve lived for 50+ years and are being forced to move in with me across the country,” Lars said in a TikTok video posted March 2, which has since amassed over 2.5 million views and tens of thousands of comments.

As more boomers reach retirement age, many are facing the stark reality of insufficient savings—and turning, oftentimes reluctantly, to their adult children for support. The median retiree has $142,000 in savings, according to a study by real estate company Clever—a far cry from the $1 million they say they’ll need to retire comfortably.

Lars, who bought a house with her partner last spring, is a member of a growing segment of adults housing their “reverse boomerang” parents. In 2021, 9% of multigenerational households were headed by a 25- to 34-year-olds, up from 6% in 2001, according to the Pew Research Center. And Lars’ new 70-something roommates come with extra baggage: In her early adulthood, her parents did not approve of her sexuality and gave her little financial support, she told her TikTok audience.

“I feel like I’m the only person who can help them and is going to help them,” Lars, a college professor, explained in the video. “But at the same time, where were they when I needed help, when I was in college and I didn’t have any money and no support through that whole process?”

How did we get here?

In a follow-up video, Lars said her parents’ financial plight has been mounting for a long time—despite her sending them part of her paycheck every month. It all began 10 years ago, when the small business her father worked for shut down, leaving him out of a job.

“At that time, my partner and I decided that we should really have a hard discussion with them about downsizing and living within their means,” she said. They tried to get her parents’ house ready for a sale—but “they just wouldn’t take the hint,” she said.

The issue came to a head this year, when Lars told her parents she could no longer send them money and asked them to move in with her. “My dad…had a sigh of relief when we told them that they could move in with us for a while,” she said.

The house Lars and her partner bought last year was a fixer-upper, she explained, and they are now diverting their home remodeling budget toward moving her parents in. In a separate video, she confirmed that her parents will be selling their house.

Heads of Households

To be sure, doubling up on housing to save money isn’t reserved for the old. The number of Americans who live in multigenerational households has quadrupled since 1971, thanks in part to the rising cost of living. A Credit Karma report from January revealed that almost one-third of Gen Zers over 18 live with a parent or family member because they can’t afford their own place.

Saving money was the number one reason for moving home, according to a Bloomberg News and Harris Poll survey, followed by taking care of older family members or dealing with immediate financial constraints. 

While young adults moving back to their parents’ homes is the dominant arrangement, the “reverse-boomerang” effect is on the rise as well. Pew found that in 2021, 15% of 25- to 34-year-olds in multigenerational households were living in their own home and had a parent or other older relative living with them—up from 12.7% in 2011. But for many adults, living under the same roof as their parents again has strained not only their finances—but their relationships as well.

“We made our [garage] into a room for my mother in law and she totally disrespected us,” one comment on Lars’ video read. “It lasted one year. She is not allowed back.”

“Went through this myself, I now don’t speak to my parents,” another user wrote. “I got them situated in an affordable trailer home (house was too expensive) and said bye.”

Why Boomers are reverse-boomeranging

Generational framings often paint a picture of carefree retirees sipping on rare wines in exotic locales, while their millennial counterparts shell out their life savings on avocado toast and minimalist apartments, waiting for the $90 trillion Great Wealth Transfer to make them rich.

But boomers may not be as well off as the headlines suggest. According to a Federal Reserve survey, 49% of 65 to 74-year-olds had no retirement savings at all as of 2022—even though more than three-quarters of that demographic owned their own homes.

Economists have long called aging populations a demographic “time bomb” waiting to detonate—and the children of boomer parents are beginning to see its fallout.

In a follow-up video, Lars shared that she looked under the hood of her parents’ financial situation. She found that they still owed money on their mortgage and had “a ton of” credit card debt—and came to the conclusion that there was “no way” her parents would be able to keep their house for more than two months. She’s now planning to move her parents into her house in May.

“I knew it was bad,” Lars said of her parents’ financial situation. “But I didn’t know it was this bad.”

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