Although talks of recession recovery have cast a positive light on the economy, the cost of consumer goods, services, and living expenses still continues to edge out take-home pay.  We seem to live in an age where the household income—which seems to serve as the baseline for the general price level of goods and services—is solely based on a two-working-adult household. This makes it difficult for millennials, college graduates, single-parent households, widows, and even the elderly to live comfortably or obtain assets and additional investments.

A new study released by Zillow seems to support the idea that the economy is based on a two-person household baseline. In this study, Zillow found that 32% of adults are solving their living-expenses-to-income-ratio by living with roommates. More specifically, the study focuses on doubled-up households: living situations where two or more adults—aged 23-65—that are not married or consider themselves domestic partners are living together.

The largest concentrations of doubled-up households are in Metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, New York, Riverside, and Miami. As adults are expected to spend 30% of their income on living expenses (and increasing rental rates hold firmly to that expectation), it may take consumers even longer to save for down payments on places of their own.

These alarming facts raise some culturally significant questions:

  1. Are today’s adults much more willing to accept the challenges of having adult roommates with the tradeoff of living comfortably, rather than being committed to a 30-year mortgage and making ends meet?
  2. Has the economy seen a shift in what we traditionally refer to as the American Dream of homeownership?
  3. How do children of single parents that grew up in doubled-up homes view the household structure?
  4. Is the housing market really on a rebound when rental prices are still outpacing income?

Share your thoughts below.