Ryann Anderegg | Lehi Free Press
Twenty years ago, owning a home was a realistic dream for many young adults. Fast forward to the present, and the harsh reality is that skyrocketing housing costs have turned this dream into a fantasy. As a full-time student and part-time worker grappling with balancing academic pursuits, employment, and living expenses, I find myself among the growing population of young adults forced to reside with family due to the high costs of independent living. Had I known the drastic changes in the housing market, I would have started saving for a home 20 years ago—when I was two years old!
“I feel like the housing issue is a real problem,” lamented Julie Anderegg, a Lehi mother. It is really difficult for my children to find housing without both parents working full-time, regardless of whether they buy or rent. It’s tough on these kids just starting their own families and trying to go to school. At least when they’re single, they can split the rent, but when they’re married,it’s nearly impossible. I don’t know how our kids will be able to afford to live nearby.”
The housing market in Utah has changed significantly over the past two decades. In 2000, a home could be purchased for an average of $146,000, a figure that has since risen to a record high of $502,600. Today, the real estate market has become a formidable barrier, making it increasingly difficult for individuals like me to step onto the property ladder.
The evolution of the housing market varies from city to city. Understanding these local nuances is crucial in understanding the challenges faced by young adults striving to secure affordable housing amid academic and professional pursuits. As we explore potential solutions, it is imperative to recognize the diverse factors influencing the housing crisis and to tailor interventions to address the unique needs of each community. Lehi is a fantastic city with a great atmosphere and has become a hotspot for entrepreneurs and startups. However, the city’s popularity comes at a cost, particularly when it comes to housing.
Despite the overall cost of living in Lehi being 4.95% lower than the national average, the housing market tells a different story. The cost of housing in Lehi is a staggering 42% higher than the national average, making buying or renting a home extremely difficult. A three-bedroom condo in Lehi costs $350,000, and the average rent is $2,200 per month.
In my household of ten, with four under 18, we have had to make significant adjustments to living. My brother, sister-in-law, and their kids share living quarters in our basement apartment,while the rest of us share the four bedrooms upstairs. Our situation is just one example of many young adults nationwidewho struggle to find affordable housing while pursuing education, career or family goals.
“Most of the time, having my whole family under the same roof is a lot of fun. I love just listening to everything going on and being able to be a part of everyone’s lives so easily. But sometimes I crave the quiet. At this point in our lives, we thought there would only be two living at home. It’s hard to know when to include everybody, and expenses are high. I see needs and feel like I need to meet them, even though it isn’t for my younger children,” said Julie.
“We transformed our basement into a furnished apartment so our kids could have a suitable space readily available when needed,” added Julie. Families across the nation are turning their basements into apartments. This is also a financial strategy for homeowners. By creating a rentable space within their homes, families are generating an additional income stream that can be used to offset their mortgage payments. In addition, finishingbasements into independent living spaces has become popular for families seeking to provide their young adults with affordable accommodation. Our basement apartment has dramatically blessed my brother and his family. It has also caused some difficulties.
“I miss having our basement and having the extra room. We’ve had to be creative with the rest of our house, such as setting up bed sheets in the loft and creating a room. But it works. I think having basement apartments is part of the solution, but I don’t know the answer,” said Jacob Anderegg, father of the Anderegg family.
The question of how to solve the housing issue has been circulating for years. We need innovative and sustainable measures to address the housing crisis, especially for those navigating the demanding life of a young adult. Here are a few potential solutions:
● Affordable housing initiatives: Governments and local authorities must take proactive steps to invest in affordable housing initiatives. This could involve the creation of subsidized housing options, low-interest mortgage programs, or grants to make housing more accessible for young adults.
● Community development: Encouraging community development projects focusing on affordable housing can be a game changer. By working with local organizations, governments can foster the creation of housing options tailored to young adults’ needs and financial capabilities.
● Support for multi-generational living: As the trend of multi-generational living becomes more common, policies should be adapted to support and regulate such arrangements. This could include tax incentives, zoning changes or other measures that acknowledge the changing dynamics of modern households.
● Student housing initiatives: Given the significant proportion of young adults juggling work and education, developing affordable housing options tailored to students can alleviate some of the strain. Collaborations between universities and housing developers could be explored to create affordable and convenient student living arrangements.
● Financial education: It is crucial to equip young adults with financial knowledge and skills. Educational programs should emphasize budgeting, saving and investing, empowering individuals to make informed decisions about housing and economic independence.
The housing challenges faced by young adults demand a comprehensive and collaborative approach. By implementing targeted policies, encouraging community development, and fostering a supportive environment for multi-generational living, we can strive to create a housing landscape that accommodates the younger generation’s aspirations.
It’s time to turn the dream of independent living into a reality for all so that every young adult has the opportunity for a bright future and, someday, has a home of their own.