In this suburb, more than half of young adults live with their parents. Why?

Marcus D. Smith, The Sacramento Bee on

Published in Lifestyles

ELK GROVE, Calif. -- Alexis Farrow is thrilled to finally move into her studio apartment in Elk Grove this month. She recently went for a walkthrough and has already imagined what decorations she will have on the walls.

Farrow, 31, has lived at home with her parents all her life and will experience for the first time what it’s like to live alone. She’s spent years living with her mom and dad in Elk Grove , saving up to help afford her own rent and other bills.

It’s a special moment, she said, as she prepares to embark on a new journey in her adulthood.

“Honestly every person should live with their parents for as long as they can, as long as possible,” said Farrow, who works as a behavioral technician. “Just because the economy is so crazy right now and everything’s so expensive… I’m realizing it doesn’t matter how old you are. I think for everyone it’s different because progress is not linear.”

It’s not uncommon for adults to live with their parents in today’s economy, especially in Elk Grove, the second-largest city in Sacramento County.

In fact, it’s become the norm for young adults. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates, 53% of Elk Grove residents ages 18 through 34 lived with their parents between 2018 and 2022. That’s up from 45% from 2011 through 2015.

By comparison, about 40% of California residents ages 18 to 34 lived with their parents between 2018 and 2022, according to the data, as did about 34% of residents across Sacramento County.

Among cities within the county, Sacramento had the lowest rate at 28%. Elk Grove’s percentage is also much higher than the county’s other suburban cities: Folsom (40%), Rancho Cordova (34%) and Citrus Heights (31%).

According to the city’s website, there are 52,000 households in Elk Grove, and it is one of California’s fastest-growing cities.

Farrow believes that more people are now opting to live with their parents a little longer than previous generations because of the rising cost of living.

The data appear to support that. Elk Grove’s average per-capita monthly income from 2018 to 2022 was $3,564, Census data shows. The median gross rent was $2,076 a month — 58% of the per-capita income. That’s well above the rates for Sacramento County as a whole and California, which were 48% and 49%, respectively.

“It’s clear that things are a lot harder now for young people and those types of things are harder now to acquire because everything’s expensive, everything, even food is more expensive now,” Farrow said. “You cannot expect people to just have everything, have all their stuff together like your parents did back then because we’re not living in the same time. We’re not living in the same era.”

‘Comparison is the thief of joy’

Arlysia Harris, a 29-year-old paraeducator, also feels the effects of a high cost of living as she aims to find her own place. She currently lives with her parents in Sacramento County’s Vineyard neighborhood, just north of Elk Grove city limits near Elk Grove Florin Road.

She said she feels pressured to be independent because she’s approaching her 30th birthday and has been living with her parents throughout her 20s.

“People look at me as a child because I still live at home,” Harris said. “I get those same people who then turn around and (tell me) I shouldn’t want to move out. I should live at home and save as much money as I can...You (should) have enough money to buy, whether it’s a house or an apartment, your furniture, all the necessities that come with that. So you’re not in a place where you have to take out a loan or ask to borrow money.”

Harris always thought that she would have been moved out by 25. Now, she fears how people will perceive her.

“I’m really big on just being who I am and not letting how people treat me affect me,” Harris said. “At the same time when it comes to adulting, I feel like a lot of adults ostracize me. They belittle me because I still live at home with my parents. I felt like a lot of adults my age or older who do have their own places belittle me and try to treat me or talk to me as if I’m a kid.”

That’s not the case, Harris said.


“I’m an adult, just like you,” she said. “I’m living on this earth, I go to work every day. I do what I have to do. Yes, I’m still living at home, but that’s because financially I’m not able to move out as of yet.”

Another added pressure she struggles with is social media perception.

“I see people my age who have started a family, have their own apartment or house, people who haven’t even started a family that have their own apartment and have their own home. They’re just living life,” Harris said. “People on social media will say if you’re 29 or in your 20s and you’re still living at home (with your parents), then that’s a bad thing.”

That was something Farrow, too, grappled with. She felt the same pressures of being out of her parents’ home by age 30.

It wasn’t until she turned 30 that she stopped putting unnecessary expectations upon herself.

“Comparison is the thief of joy,” Farrow said. “I had to learn to stop comparing my life to theirs and just realize that we’re all on a different timetable and just because they decided to get married, start a family and everything, while they were young doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone else has to.”

Stay or leave Elk Grove?

Harris still goes back and forth on what the best decision for her is.

“I’m trying to figure out whether I want to move out because this is what people want me to do and I think it’s the best idea? Or am I moving out because I actually want to,” Harris said.

“I’m not going to lie, saving as much as I can sounds better than moving out and paying high rent in Sacramento (or Elk Grove) and trying to save at the same time. Since I’m a single person and I don’t have a significant other, when I do move out, I won’t have help with the rent or mortgage or whatever the case may be, all of that is going to fall on me, and me only.”

Harris isn’t too particular about location. Ultimately, she just wants something affordable that she can call her own.

“I do wish that they would make more affordable housing in Elk Grove because Elk Grove is a suburb and it’s not a bad place,” Harris said. “Sacramento has its good areas too, but I do feel like a lot of the lower income apartments are in places where you do have to watch your back more.”

There are currently 18 affordable housing apartment complexes in Elk Grove, according to the city. Four are reserved for senior living, and the rest are single- and multi-family apartment homes for those who qualify.

“I feel a lot of adults end up moving into areas (with) high crime rates because they’re just trying to get out of their parents’ house, they’re just trying to get any place that will take them in,” Harris said. “It’s the lower income areas that are in spots that are not so safe of a place to raise kids and have a family.

“Elk Grove, to me, is a place that is safe in a way where you can raise a family and have kids.”

Harris is still searching and working on moving out of her parents’ house. She’s applied to some complexes in Sacramento and is still waiting for responses. She hasn’t ruled out Elk Grove.

In the meantime, she believes it’s best to stay at home and save money and advises those who are 18 to 30 to do the same, if they are fortunate enough to have that option.

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