Somewhere between the age of 22 and 26, people have begun asking me where I lived.
When my answer is, “home…with my parents,” I feel this urgent need to explain myself further. I need to explain why at the age of 22, 23, 24, 25, and now 26, I’m not out living life on my own. Something isn’t right, I can read it in their faces.
Perhaps I place these feeling upon myself, but I’ve noticed that I feel inferior during these times. Un-adult, needy, dependent.
I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. I have several friends who have confided to me their own personal frustrations surrounding this awkward life stage. Some want desperately to move out but simply can’t afford it due to low-paying jobs (or no jobs at all.) Others love living at home but feel they need to move out; it’s whats expected after a certain age (some say 25, some say 30.)
It took a couple of years of soul searching and questioning others in similar situations, but here is how I’ve (mostly) made my peace with this issue:
1. People will always be asking something.
My sister gets the “when are you going to have babies?” question. I’m getting the “when are you going to get married?” question. Those younger than me are getting the “what are you going to do with your career?” question.
People will always want to know something. And. You can’t please everyone.
2. Living at home opens up a great money-saving opportunity.
If you’re currently living at home because of financial difficulties (i.e., no job, low paying job, job transitions, etc.) then this is a great time to save. I put most of the money that I would be putting towards a mortgage payment into my college loans. This is a huge opportunity to take advantage of.
Oh, and I’ve yet to hear from any young adult who has stated they wished they would have moved out sooner. Most wished they would have waited a few more years and then moved out. Take this chance to put away and save or pay off some debts!
3. Living at home doesn’t have to mean slouching off your parents.
Nor should it.
There are plenty of adults who have moved out but still require assistance from their parents (“hey mom, my car broke down!”)
Living at home means sharing the responsibilities. Doing the dishes. Watering the garden. Offering to pitch in for groceries now and then. Paying an agreed upon room and board fee. Taking out the trash. And so on.
As one friend put it, independent living doesn’t have to mean living on your own.
4. Buy a house/condo/apartment when YOU feel ready.
It’s important to explore your options. Find what you’re financially capable of affording (according to most financial experts, total housing should not cost more than 25% of your gross income.) Think about what you really want.
And don’t move out because Uncle Jeffrey thinks living at home at the age of 30 is just despicable.
Only YOU can make the choice of when and where…and you should feel comfortable with YOUR choice!
5. Enjoy the time you have right now.
I have it good in that I get along really well with my parents. I consider them two of my closest friends who I can confide with on anything and everything. They’ve always been there for me and we all help each other out with household chores.
(AND, they’ve very graciously accepted my cat Humphrey a formerly no-pet household!)
Even though I dream about the day when I can buy my own condo or house, I have to remember that life is right now and that today won’t last forever. I have to enjoy the time I have at home and learn from it (and SAVE!!) My parents aren’t in a hurry to push me out, and I’m not in a hurry to leave. I hope to have my college loans payed up in full within 3 years and that’s when saving for a house down payment will begin.
I think the most important takeaway message that I’ve learned is that you ultimately have to do what’s right and what makes you most happy. If you know you won’t be happy until you move out, then make it happen. If you and your parents are in a mutually happy living situation and you think you could really get some financial footing by living at home for the next couple of years, then by all means don’t move out quite yet.
And, most of all, don’t try to please everyone. It never works.