When I was in college, my biggest goal was to make enough money at my job so that I wouldn’t have to move back in with Mom and Dad after graduation. Now that I am 4+ years out of school, though, I’ve realized it would have been nice to live at home for a few years. My workplace was too far to make it realistic, but even if I worked closer, I don’t think I was at a place where I would have wanted to live at home then.
What brought about this change of heart? I was reminded of this topic when Bridget at Hi That’s My Bike wrote a somewhat controversial post about adults living with their parents.
I don’t think anyone should live at home after the age of 20. I don’t care if you’re a student or saving up for a house, or whatever other ridiculous excuse you think justifies leeching off your parents. Everyone needs the experience of being independent in order to become self-sufficient. If you do not have enough money to pay rent, you have to find a way to make more money — this is called problem solving, and it’s an essential skill for coping with that scary thing called “real life” so it’s better to learn it sooner rather than later.
There are some aspects of the post that I agreed with. To have a successful stay at home, young adults should have a goal and a plan (getting a job, paying off credit card loan, etc.) and they should pitch in some way or another, such as chipping in for rent, doing some housework, buying groceries, etc. I wrote about “boomerang” kids back in 2007, but given the economic downturn and the dearth of jobs for many new graduates, adults who live at home are more common than ever.
Moving back home isn’t all sunshine and roses, and it’s probably not a viable long-time strategy for many folks. But if you have a good relationship with your parents, living at home is a wonderful way to save up, accelerate student loan payments, and generally spend some more time with family.
I know several friends and friend-of-friends who have lived at home.
- One girl lived at home for 5 years after college. She paid the market rate for her room. At the end of the five years, her parents gave her back all the money she had paid. That’s how she got a remarkable down payment and now is the proud owner of a 3-bedroom townhouse.
- Another friend and his wife live with her parents while they are building up their small business and going to school.
- One of my friends was a manager making $80K. She lived at home because it was 15 miles from her work, and there was no point in renting an apartment when she can save that money for something else.
- CB lived at home for 2+ years after he graduated, and during that time he was able to squirrel money away (some of which to his retirement funds!). He was able to hang out with his brother and sister at night. He was able to eat his mom’s cooking – and bring me some when he visited!
Now I can say that if CB and I are ever working near my parents’ place, I would have no problem whatsoever moving in with them, setting on a very accelerated saving plan for a down payment, and enjoying my mom’s delicious dinners a few nights a week. I know my mom would love to have me back home. Maybe it’s a matter of culture (I come from one where it is more normal/expected for adult children to live with their parents – all my cousins currently live at home or in apartments purchased by their folks), but I don’t see anything inherently shameful in living with parents. It’s just a living situation.
So I guess my view on adults living at home is this: do what works for your situation, but don’t dismiss the possibility (and the potential savings) so quickly, and if you are living at home and working towards a goal, don’t be ashamed. It may not be as fun as living on your own, but what you gain in return – not just monetarily – could be well worth the inconveniences.