As go Brooklyn's trustafarians, so goes the nation

It's sad news for landlords in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, says a piece in The New York Times' Metro section: the so-called "trustafarians," young adults living on trust funds and other financial assistance from their parents, are starting to lose the faith. No longer are parents able to pony up big down payments to buy condos whose prices far exceeded the 20-somethings' ability to pay; no longer are parents guaranteeing rent on apartments whose costs are more than most artists and young creatives make. One landlord quoted in the piece, Ernie DiGiacomo, says that he's lost tenants whose parents used to make up the difference between his rents and their ability to pay. "Most of them are moving back with parents," he says.

While rents are definitely going down, according to DailyFinance editor and Williamsburg resident Michael Rainey, it's probably not all the fault of the declining value of young Williamsburgians' parents' investments. What is true? Young people everywhere are increasingly turning to their parents for help, and often that means moving back home. For Lake Oswego, Oregon commodities broker Jonathan Paulson, that means a pre-fab tepee in his parents' backyard. (Seriously.)

For a friend of my husband's who just turned 40, that means flying back to Connecticut to "hang" with his mom for an unspecified amount of time. "I don't have a job or a wife, so I figured it was a good time," he said last night. "I don't even have a girlfriend!" He'd tired of living in basements and on couches, and his mom had just enough extra money for a bargain airfare.

Another friend here in Portland has welcomed her adult son back home with pride, adopting it as part of her commitment to sustainability (economic sustainability, too). She believes that we're headed toward a future where more and more extended family units live under the same roof -- sharing cooking, cleaning, and vegetable gardening duties.

Clearly, this is not what's going on in Williamsburg, where the gentrification has been much-exclaimed over. If anything, kids are moving back home to Long Island, where gardening is more of the heirloom rose variety. And rents are definitely falling, from $100 to $500 a month compared to 2008 according to one broker, but he says it's because of the flush of new construction (and, lest we forget, that real estate bubble the entire country's seen popped). Adults are definitely moving back with their parents more and more often nationwide, though exact data isn't available.

What's going on in Williamsburg may be magnified and unusually precious, what with the proliferation of young, barely employed creatives, but it's only a reflection of what's going on nationwide; as house values and retirement funds decline, older adults don't have as much money to help their children. Inevitably, more kids will move back home; and maybe, this will end up being a more sustainable way for us all to live.

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