Close your eyes and picture your childhood room at your parents’ house: faded photographs, memories, and random trinkets that didn’t make the cut in your new life. Now, imagine moving back in—or never leaving in the first place.
Photographer Damon Casarez’s photo series “Boomerang Kids” features portraits of young adults who have moved back home with their parents because of financial reasons, be it debt (I see you, Sallie Mae), the competitive job market, or the recovering economy. One day, Casarez found himself in a similar situation, and the project was born.
“I started this project as I was sleeping on my parents’ couch after having to move back home because I could no longer afford my apartment. My monthly student loan payment was twice my rent,” Casarez tells HelloGiggles. “I started wondering what other recent grads felt like who were in the same situation as me—and I was also just interested to see visuals of people in their mid-twenties living back with their parents during a time when we are supposed to be financially independent and starting our careers.”
It’s no secret that student loan debt is a growing problem—one that will only get worse as college tuition continues to rise. The subjects featured in “Boomerang Kids” have debt ranging from $10,000 to over $100,000, but rather than hide behind their loans, they used the photo project as an opportunity to share the reality of their situations.
“I found people mostly through social media such as Facebook and one person searching hashtags on Instagram, as well as posting ads on Craigslist,” Casarez tells us. “Most of the people I contacted wanted to be a part of the project, have their stories told and share the reality they face right after graduating college, which is the story of thousands of other young adults across the country.”
“Boomerang Kids” confronts real struggles many millennials are facing, but puts a visual—and at times, light-hearted—spin on the conversation. Check out some of our favorite pictures below, then click here to see the full project.
Gabriel Gonzalez, 22, Suffern, New York Student loans: $130,000
Monica Navarro, 24, Escondido, California Student loans: $44,000
Mikey Billings, 29, Statesville, North Carolina Student loans: $80,000
Annie Kasinecz, 27, Downers Grove, Illinois Student loans: $75,000
Robert Shane Ellis, 29, Alhambra, California Student loans: $10,000
Alexandria Romo, 28, Austin, Texas
Student loans: $90,000
(Images courtesy of Damon Casarez)