Ages 32 and 27; Montgomery County, Maryland
After years of unemployment following his Army service in Iraq, Jose Merino recently found a job as a clerical worker, which he squeezes in around his final semester of classes at a community college. He works the 5pm-1am shift, allowing him a couple of hours of after-school time with his young son Ayden before he heads to work each evening. His girlfriend, Elizabeth Bonta, was the first in her family to go to college and works as a guidance counselor at a DC-area high school. She came into Jose’s life a couple years ago and now shares parenting responsibilities for Ayden.
Jose and Elizabeth would love to stay in Montgomery County — just outside Washington, DC — where they were both born and raised. But with the cost of living 30 percent higher than the national average, the county is a tough place to get ahead. Jose, Ayden, and Elizabeth alternate between living in their parents’ basements, tag-teaming childcare around their opposite work schedules. Elizabeth, burdened by student loan debt from her master’s degree, pays her aging parents’ mortgage, but would like to find a way for all of them to move into a place where Ayden can have his own room.
The series follows the couple as they navigate the ups and downs of home-buying, a developing relationship, and familial responsibilities. As first-generation Americans, Jose and Elizabeth are ready to fight for their foothold in the middle class.