Study: Broken Hearts Send Young Adults Back Home

February 25, 2019

In the last few years, student loan debt and rising housing costs have been cited as the chief reasons why many young adults are moving back in with their parents. But a new study suggests the real trigger may be a broken heart.

Person taping together an image of a broken heart

© JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Since the Great Recession, which thwarted many millennials’ plans to move out on their own, an improving labor market has not done much to lure these young adults out of their parents’ houses. Why are they staying? In a recent survey of 500 “boomerang” millennials, 33 percent of 26- to 30-year-olds who moved back home cited a divorce or breakup as the primary reason for returning to their parents’ nest. Thirty-seven percent of 31- to 35-year-olds and 24 percent of 36- to 40-year-olds say the same, the survey shows.

For millennials, a combination of a breakup and unstable finances may be sending them back home. Couples who live together may help each other financially by splitting housing costs. But after a breakup, the costs may be too much for one person to carry. Also, young adults may be moving back home for emotional support to help them recover post-breakup. “Home is a safe place a lot of times,” Grant Simmons, vice president of, told CNBC. “Perhaps it’s just a safe place to get your act together and start fresh.”

Potential house hunters in the South may suffer from the most heartache, with 25 percent of survey respondents in the region saying they moved home due to the end of a relationship, followed by 20 percent in the Northeast, 17 percent in the Midwest, and 16 percent in the West. Among all generations, the most commonly cited reason for moving back in with their parents was to save money for a home purchase, followed by a breakup or divorce. Other commonly cited reasons include unemployment and debt.

For those who have moved back home, 45 percent live in their childhood bedrooms, while 12 percent sleep in the basement, 4 percent sleep in the living room, and 2 percent move into the garage. Twenty-two percent pay rent to their parents, according to the survey. Moving back home is not always easy as an adult. Privacy and noise issues were the most commonly cited causes of household conflict, according to the survey.

A new relationship may help motivate young adults to move out on their own, but which should come first—the relationship or the move? A recent® suggests that owning a home can help make a single person appear more attractive. Forty-six percent of 500 singles surveyed by® say that homeownership made a potential significant other “attractive” or “very attractive.”

This is the No. 1 Reason Young Americans Move Home With Their Parents—and It’s Not the Cost of Rent,” CNBC (Feb. 14, 2019) and “The Broken-Hearted Move Back Home,” The Wall Street Journal (Feb. 14, 2019) [Log-in required.]