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From Roommates to Nuclear Families, A Look at Housing Composition in the DC Area

by Nena Perry-Brown

The DC region is the land of the nuclear family and the roommate. 

Today, ApartmentList released a study comparing how household compositions have changed in 25 metropolitan areas. Fifty years ago, more than three in four 26 year-olds in the U.S. lived with their spouse; now, it is barely one in four, and there are 300,000 more 26 year-olds living with their parents. 

Many signs are pointing to the Great Recession as the turning point for household composition, as the number of households comprised of unrelated families has more than doubled since 2008. Adults age 25-34 years-old are 46 percent more likely to live with a parent now than in 2007; they are also 32 percent more likely to cohabit before marriage and 19 percent more likely to have an unrelated roommate. Conversely, the share of nuclear households has gone down from 42 to 22 percent since 1968. 

While high home prices seem to correlate with the creation of fewer nuclear households, the DC area is just one of five metros where the number of nuclear households has increased since 2007. Part of why the region has bucked the trend seems to be a side effect of general population growth, as there has been an increase in every type of household since 2007 except for households with people who are related, but are not nuclear families nor married couples.

Specifically, the number of nuclear families in the DC area has increased by 16 percent, from 543,162 to 629,576; there has been a much greater increase in the number of roommate households, however, which have risen 77 percent, from 45,952 to 81,296. This number does not capture all roommate living situations, as the study also accounts for households comprised of multiple families living together and for married couples who live with roommates.

Between continuous growth in housing costs and the rise of co-living, accessory dwelling units and other alternative housing arrangements, ApartmentList predicts that these household composition trends will only continue.

Note: The study defines nuclear families as married couples living only with their children.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/nuclear-families-increase-16-percent-in-dc-metro/15957

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