Living at Home in your 20s

Living at Home in your 20s

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Young adults are increasingly moving back in with Mom and Dad or simply not moving out at all until their late 20s or early 30s. A recent blog from The Wall Street Journal indicated that one in three young adults still lives at home, and most of them are satisfied with these living conditions while they gain financial footing.

The blog argues that since the economy is improving, shouldn't young adults be taking the leap of independence? Why are employed, unmarried young adults still living at home? The author stresses that other factors other than work must play a role somehow, but finances are still a major reason young adults remain at home.

I appreciate that my parents allow me to continue living at home in my 20s. Initially, I was embarrassed to move back home. I was worried about how other people would perceive it. I looked at it as a failure when I moved back into my old room after graduating from college because my goal had been to immediately land a full-time job and fend for myself.

In hindsight, it has been a positive growing experience for me. Instead of having a harsh "welcome to the real world" experience right after I graduated, I have been able to take on new financial responsibilities gradually. I've learned how to budget on a small income in order to pay the bills I do have, like my car payment, car insurance and my cell phone bill.

I also didn't have a car of my own until after college. I still borrowed one of my parents' cars when I needed to go somewhere until about six months ago. Being the responsible parents they are (as frustrating as good parenting can be sometimes), they made it clear they would not buy me a car. Growing up, they had to purchase their own, so I would, too. Taking that into account, it would have been hard for me to move right away even if I did land a great job. I wouldn't have known how to budget well, and I certainly would not have been able to afford a car at the same time, not even a used one.

Another benefit to living at home is that I have time to start building my credit so that when I do move into my own place, I won't need someone to cosign my lease. I can also save money so that when I am able to move, it can be into a nice building in a nice neighborhood. I won't be forced to forego safety in the name of independence.  

One big reason I am thankful to still live at home is safety. As a young woman, I have never been comfortable with the thought of living by myself. I realize there is a great benefit to living with roommates, but I like knowing my dad is nearby just in case. I know it is encouraged in some families and cultures for women to live at home until marriage. I have never held strongly to that belief personally, but I do like knowing I live under the protection of my family while unmarried. 

If you currently live at home, what have been some of the benefits or struggles for you? How old is too old to live at home? And if you live on your own, what advice would you give in hindsight to those of us who haven't left the nest yet? 

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  • --I lived with my mum until a few months ago. I love my mum and we get on well, but it wasn't the ideal scenario and the only reason I stayed at home was because I couldn't afford to live on my own, didn't have a roommate to move out with and didn't see the point in renting a room in someone else's house when I could do basically the same thing at my mum's.  When I met a nice Christian woman my age who wanted to move to my town and was looking for a roommate, I jumped at the chance to move out.

    I do think it's hard to be completely financially independent as a young adult these days.  And there are other good reasons why someone in their 20s and even 30s might choose to stay at home (cultural expectations, ill health of parents or child, etc).  But I do think, honestly, that if you're working and can afford to contribute to the family budget then you should do so (the goal to save some money too might factor into how much you contribute).  Two of my friends have been living with their parents and paying no rent at all (and have assumed that my situation was the same which it wasn't), and that annoys me.  Individual families may have other legitimate arrangements, but in general I don't think it does anyone any favours to allow your employed  adult son or daughter to live with you rent free.

  • --I've lived at home after high school on and off (usually over the summer or for a couple weeks between apartments, but once for a semester between colleges), and while I appreciated having my parents' house as a safety net for short term transitions, I highly recommend that people get out on their own as soon as possible. I couldn't become a full adult until I cut the cord, and it's hard to see how anybody else could either.

    If you're still in college, that should be the time where you learn to budget and handle money. If you have a history of paying your rent on time, you generally need an income 3x your portion of the rent in order to get an apartment, so building credit isn't absolutely necessary. If you treat college like a transition into the real world instead, by your third or fourth year (and certainly your fifth), you should be prepared for the real world and not see it as a shock.

    There's certainly no formula for how everyone needs to always do everything, but I meet too many young adults who have yet to actually become adults. From our obsession with hoodies and sweat pants to staying at home indefinitely, we're a generation that values comfort over responsibility.

  • --Great article, Amy, as always.

    I am twenty-one, about to enter junior year in college, and still live with my parents. To be completely frank, at this point in my life, I do not have the desire to move out or to prove myself independent. I also never felt embarrassed whenever I tell others that I still live with my parents. To be blunt, I don't care what they think. In my case, living with my parents has been all benefits - financially, morally, and spiritually.

    In my home, I take care of all the heavy work and laundry. My sister takes care of cleaning and shopping, and sometimes cooking. My aunt, who adopted me, takes care of shopping and cooking. My uncle, who is eighty and retired, goes to his senior's club every morning and relaxes throughout the day. I love doing work around the house for my family and to read books during my laundromat trips. My sister loves cleaning so much she starts her day at 5 am in the morning by sweeping and mopping the house. My aunt LOVES to shop, cook, and watch her family enjoy her dishes. My uncle, well, he just loves us all.

    I am blessed enough to be financially capable to move out if I want to. But I say to myself: "what for?". Why sacrifice all this for the sake of proving to the world that I can do it alone, knowing that this is in no way a biblical way of thinking? Why sacrifice community, accountability, and sanctification for the sake of being able to show off my "independence", knowing well that it has been God all along? Yes, moving out will tell the world that you are not a mama's boy anymore. But does it mean that you are independent? No. You will still be dependent of others and God in so many ways. Does living on your own better prepare you for marriage? not always.

    If your family insists on babysitting you all the time then yes, leaving them will help you practice going the opposite direction. But for me, living with my family has helped me to actually prepare for marriage. I learn to be considerate of their needs, and to be intentional in doing small and big things to please them. I learn to share responsibilities, and to love sacrificially. I learn to communicate, and to listen. And most importantly, I learn to DEPEND on others. I believe where you live or who you live with has little to do with your growth or even marriability. Those are merely circumstances, and how you respond to them is what ultimately decides whether you will grow or not.

    I think that as Christians we should aim for spiritual maturity, not "independence". Even if you somehow attain independence, what good does it do you? If anything, your future experiences in your career, marriage, and life will expose you to your true identity: a completely dependent, needy being. And guess what will happen if you persist in your independence? Your career will fail. Your marriage will fail. Your walk with Christ too, will fail. All because we are never meant to "make it on your own".

    Of course, I sometimes couldn't help but imagine myself being on a date and having to telling her "oh, I still live with my parents". I know it's guaranteed to turn almost any woman off, at least by a little bit. But that's ok;  It's my decision and I'm fine with it. That's a small cost that I'm willing to pay in exchange for growth. And oh, because of that decision, at least in two years I will graduate from college debt free and actually have a significant amount of money saved away, enough to afford a decent engagement ring, a modest wedding party, a honeymoon trip, and a down-payment for a house.

    Some women will like that, I'm sure.

  • --"I couldn't become a full adult until I cut the cord, and it's hard to see how anybody else could either."

    I think it depends entirely on specific situations and your personality. I know some of my friends who moved out at 18 and were back at home 6 months later because they had no idea how to budget, pay bills, deal with car insurance, etc.

    I've had a job continuously since I was 14, I started paying my mom rent and I purchased my own car at 18, and I started splitting all of the bills with my mom at 23. Sure, I could've afforded to live with a roommate, but why not just stay with my mom, the best roommate ever?

    I moved out this year at 27, not because I felt cultural pressure to do so, but because it felt right and I could truly afford it. I don't think you can make a blanket statement that a person is not a full adult unless they live away from home. There are so many other facets involved to being independent. Like JosieJo said, it can also be cultural, or it may depend on what region or state you live in. I also hate the stereotype that if you're living with your parents, you're not paying any rent/bills. This is certainly true for many people, but not all! In my area (Detroit), I don't know many parents who can afford to support another adult with adult bills (gas, car insurance, cell phone, health insurance, clothes for work, etc.)

    Perfect example: My aunt has 5 kids and 10 grand-kids. She told me that she receives well over 50 calls a day from them about a variety of things (laundry questions, how coupons work at the grocery store, registering kids for school, etc.) She said the record was 71 calls in one day. Now, it's natural to ask your parents for advice, but this is just ridiculous. I know my cousins, and they just can't think for themselves or do the research to figure things out on their own. They live away from home, but they're not independent by a long stretch.

    It just depends. (And although I quoted GrinAndBarrett, I'm not directing this all at you.)

  • --I graduated college around this time one year ago, and I was so sure that it would not take long for me to land a job in my chosen career field, but instead I ended up unemployed and am currently living with my parents once more. Personally, I find this the most unfair situation in which I have ever been. I am almost 30, and I belong in my own apartment with a full-time job, not unemployed with my parents. And I am so very miserable. I hate living with my parents, I hate being unemployed, and I just don't understand why God gave me such much to offer to the world if He does not want me doing anything with my life!

  • --@Manifresh, I actually agree with you in that I do see benefits associated with staying at home, even into your 20s. As Amy already mentioned, there are some families/cultures that actually encourage this kind of thing (both for cultural and religious purposes). My family is one of them and I have no problem with it (though I don't think it's for everyone!). There are advantages and disadvantages to both staying and leaving so I definitely think it should be a personal choice. I know that as a guy it may be worse to tell others (especially a girl you're interested in) that you still "live at home"; however, based on the reasoning you gave, I for one, would have no problem accepting that. Hang in there! :-)

    @Amy, some of the benefits for me is that I get to stay at home (no worries about rent), go to school, work part-time, build my credit, and learn to budget and pay my bills (in preparation for when I leave). Also, living with family members is a little bit different because arguments tend to get settled right away (I mean, how long can you stay mad at someone you live with AND are related too? lol). Also, I definitely agree with you that I appreciate having my Dad around (which is also a plus when I'm dating b/c he has no problem looking out for me and making sure that the guy has good intentions). Currently, there aren't many struggles for me (if you ignore the whole "As long as you live under *my* house, you'll obey my rules" thing :-p) Though that doesn't seem to be much of a problem for me as I've always been "the good girl" :-D

  • --Warning: I'm about to make some generalizations.

    GENERALLY if you're older than 21 and living with your parents, you should probably ask yourself why you are doing it. If you HAVEN'T at least considered moving into your own place, you need to start thinking about it.

    Also, If you think living with your family of origin is "preparing you for marriage" by needing to take into account the feelings of others, you're going to get a short, sharp shock. Unless you come from a broken, bad, abusive environment, your family of origin loves you. They love you for a variety of reasons, but the biggest reason is that blood is thicker than water and you happen to share their DNA. They love you in a non-transferable way that they can't get rid of just because they don't like the way that you replace the toilet paper role.

    You and your spouse *will not have this kind of love*. They should love youm but you will have a DIFFERENT kind of love and  they do not HAVE to love you, especially in a culture that is more and more amicable to no-fault divorce. No one is ever going to love you like your Momma, and if you start treating your wife the way you treat your Mom, your marriage is going to fall apart. Because your Momma is going to complain about you leaving your dirty socks strung out all over the house, but she's still going to wash them becasue you are her baby and she takes care of you. Just try that with your wife.

    Just try it once. :P

    Roomates on the other hand, they don't have to love you. they don't even have to *like* you. But they do have to share your space. if you can learn to live amicably (and neatly!) in a house with four other women, all of you survive to marriage AND you're still talking to all of them... congratulations. ;) You might have some of the skill it takes to build a lasting marriage.

    Secondly, there is a reason that the bible talks about leaving and cleaving. :P There was a gal in the office I met my husband who didn't often bust out the soul-mamma gospel choir voice, but when she talked about how the bible says "A man shall LEAAAVE his Father and mother and CLEAAAVE to his wife" it jumped out EVERY time. ;) It's not good to learn "dependency" as a way ahead in the world. That is -- it is not good to be overly dependent on fallible humans, even ones that love you. It is also not good to have SUCH a strong bond with your family of origin that it causes tension and friction in your NEW family with your spouse. (of which YOU (and I :/) are the Momma, and we're all going to have to learn the kind of love that deals with our babies' dirty socks :P).

    These are just a couple of the reasons I would advocate moving out of the home of your family of origin. There are others: For example, not placing undue financial strain on your parents. Not using your parent's golden years as your crash pad. Not taking advantage of your parent's goodwill by sleeping in their home but not really connecting with them. Not having the freedom your desire to give in the areas of hospitality and homemaking that will eventually aide you in building your own life apart from your parents.

    That being said, it's not for everyone. I get that. some people have extrenuating circumstances. They, or a family member, have a debilitating illness. They have younger siblings that need a positive influence in their life. Their parents are too old or frail to take care of themselves without help. Life circumstances have dealt you a period of unemployment -- or in my soon-to-be-case, all your earthly possessions are with your husband six states away waiting on the builders to finish building your home which was supposed to be done but won't be on the timeline they said they could do and your job starts before they'll be done. :( Boo. :P All of those things are legit. Things happen.

    But you need to be able to evaluate whether you are making the decision to life at home because it's comfortable and easy, and Mom and Dad let you drive their car and be on their wireless plan... and it lets you slowly adjust to responsibilities you should be growing to be able to do on your own! OR whether you're staying at home because it really is the wisest course of action for you. Because you ARE taking on responsibilities at home, and you ARE diligently contributing to your household and saving money for your future (or you're just temporarily inconvenienced and can't be living under an overpass ;) ).

  • --I lived at home until my mid-20s, and it DID hold me back from fully becoming an 'adult'.  I was protected from a lot of life's learning experiences: how to negotiate agreements (rental, etc), how to live with non-related others, how to keep an entire space tidy instead of just my room, how to cook.

    The benefits I had living at home were great.  My mom cooked for me, and I paid minimal rent.  (In retrospect, I wish I'd given more to my parents, but I was selfish and they never asked for more.)  I didn't have to worry about "admin" like electricity bills, or groceries; I just had to manage my own few bills.  I thought I was the model of a good daughter because I still did chores and 'contributed'.  

    And, oh, I could go out every night and just sleep at home and someone else (my mom) took care of everything else.  Even though I thought I was an adult and told people that I was totally independant (true! I never had to check with my parents about where I was), I had that safe buffer zone to come home to every night.  And if I wanted to go on a trip, well, I'd just take off.  No need to worry about anything like pets or food going bad or even locking down the house.

    Moving out was a huge learning curve.  It made me grow up a LOT.

    So I think - if you have lived out of home, then going back temporarily is okay.  Life is expensive.  You're lucky if you have a family who can help you out for a time.  

    However, if you've never been fully independent, paying your own way for everything, then you NEED to do that.  Go live in a share-house for 6 months (you can find some really cheap places out there) and have that experience.  It will motivate you and teach you so many things!

  • --Also, you mentioned Safety as a reason for living at home.  I rarely think of that any more but I choose apartments based on how secure they are and am very good at locking doors.

    It does suck when you don't have help to do tough things - but again, needing someone tall to come over and help me change a lightbulb that I couldn't reach (this was before I owned furniture!) - taught me valuable life skills about being unashamed to ask for help.  

  • --It was an easy decision to stay in my college's city after graduation. The practical reason is that my parents' city has a /horrible/ job market. I've seen this with many people at church, and they all had much more experience than me. Of course, I don't expect it to be easy anywhere, but my college's city wasn't hit hard by the recession, and there are so many more opportunities here. Another practical reason is that I went to a small university, so most people who live far away haven't heard of it, but employers in-state often want to hire alumni because it has such an outstanding reputation.

    The bigger reason is because whenever I go back to my hometown for holidays, summer, whenever, I feel like I am reliving my preteen-teen years, and believe me, it was traumatic enough the first time around. I love my family, and I don't blame them because they didn't really know what was wrong, and they did the best they could. They are wonderful people, and I love to keep in touch. But between all the painful past memories associated with the area and the family's current negativity, it would be a bad idea all around for me move back. Besides, living on my own and having more responsibility has made me more confidant and responsible, so now I come across better in the professional world.

    And I know a lot of people in the area and have a roommate, so it's not like I am a lone wolf. All of things below I've learned from them: "Be considerate of their needs, and to be intentional in doing small and big things to please them. I learn to share responsibilities, and to love sacrificially. I learn to communicate, and to listen. And most importantly, I learn to DEPEND on others." I would add "healthy boundaries" to the list, but these are all traits we can from the church as well as family members who may or may not be in the church.      

    Also, I thought this article was really interesting. It shows how painful it can be to go directly from your childhood home to getting married.

  • --This has been brought up before in past threads, but there appears to be a double standard in regards to guys vs girls still living at home as adults.  

    Meaning if a girl lives home as an adult, even up until her early 30's, it's not viewed nearly as negatively as if a guy were to do that.  A girl who does that is often labeled "prudent", "a saver", etc.  But a guy who does that even if he's working a "normal" job?  "Pathetic", "stuck in adultescence", etc.  I know that part of this is motivated by the theory that a guy needs to be the "provider", but how is saving money by living at home especially when saved/invested wisely not in the vein of being a good provider.  In fact if he saved enough, when he does marry they might be able to purchase a home much sooner than normal.

    Also many of us don't realize that in other cultures living at home until marriage (sometimes even after marriage) is not at all considered unusual or socially stigmitized.  It's not so much a matter of independence so much as it is practicality.

    Of course ultimately living at home is an arragement which requires cooperation between the parents and the children.  If parents don't mind their adult kids staying at home, that's their choice.  But I would ask that they observe WHAT their kids are doing with their time and the money they are saving.  If they aren't progressing towards reasonable independence or blowing all their saved money on luxuries, I think that's something which needs addressing.

  • --Kelly_1: I will say, that living on my own the first time without roomates I *did* ask my mom to text me every morning to make sure I was still alive. ;) I think there was an episode of 30 Rock where Liz Lemon was paranoid about choking to death on a cheeto in her apartment and not being found for two weeks. I was afraid that I was going to fall in the shower and turn into a Bones-esque crime scene! :P

    Of course, that was probably a little dramatic of me, but it did improve my comunication with my Mom, and we still instant message each other good morning, just to say hello and show each other that we care ;) so I guess it turned out all right in the end!

  • --@DreamerGuy

    I feel your pain sir. It is okay not to be okay with where you are. But God does want to do something with your life; you're fearfully and wonderfully made, as Psalm 139 says. I am praying for you.


    Yep. Culture is definitely a huge part, and like you said, it may not be for everyone. I definitely agree.


    I don't think that you have to live away from your family to learn to take care of yourself. Like Dani640's beautiful example, you can live away from your parents but by no means be independent. As I've mentioned before, I believe that what matters is not who you live with (a loving family, alone, or with four other women), but your choices and how you respond. The goal is not to just be able to take care of yourself, but ultimately to spiritually mature. And this is possible regardless of who you're living with. Even if you are able to afford to move out, staying with your parents will not hinder you from learning to take care of your own. What matters is whether you will or will not practice taking care of your own.

    I'm on my eleventh month tour in Afghanistan now. Did my choice inhibit my ability to leave and cleave? No! This is the longest time I've spent away from my family and honestly, I never even felt homesick. I only called home twice throughout the year. Did I become independent? Quite the contrary; I became even more dependent. I'm in charge of my base's warehouse and every day I DEPEND on the help of my boss, my civilian employees, and other soldiers to finish projects, deadlines, and to get units whatever supplies they need. I depend on the Chaplain, who agrees to counsel me every week, and to keep me spiritually in place. I depend on my chain-of-command to listen to my concerns and to assist me in my career progress. Hey, I become a dependable leader by learning to depend on others,

    No, I don't think that you have to move away from your parents to learn to wash your own socks, clean the house, pay your own bills, manage your budget, or even practice replacing a baby's diapers.I learned and did all that (EXCEPT THE BABY DIAPER PART) while living with my parents. Yes I pay my own "rent", cellphone bills, health, dental and life insurances. I can do all these with or without your parents. Again, what matters is your response to your circumstance, your choices, not the circumstance. What matters is whether you choose to learn to mature or not.

    Oh, as an additional note, when I get home, I am treating my family to a fancy dinner. I am going to buy them something special (a washing machine, maybe). And I'm going to continue living with them as long as I possibly can. Because I love my family. Because I want to. Because I only have so much time left with them; one day I will either die or get married, and will have to LEAAAVE and CLEEEAVE.

  • --Lots of interesting thoughts here. I'm 23 and just getting my own apartment this month. I've been wanting to move out for about a year, and it's finally happening. I definitely have mixed feelings though. On the one side, I am thrilled to have my own place and look forward to having people over. I think living on my own will mature me a good bit by having to handle everything that comes with a place of your own. On the other hand, I'm think I'm gonna miss my family a ton! Even though I won't be far, and will visit often, part of me feels really sad about not being able to interact with them on a daily basis. At times I stop and think,' what are you doing!!'. But I feel like it's time for me to take the plunge and move. Here's to hoping I don't get horribly homesick in a few months and wish I was back home!

  • --I lived at home during college and grad school (since both were within driving distance, and it was less expensive to live at home rather than in the dorms).  When I got a full-time job right out of grad school, I still continued to live at home, but I also started to pay rent, help with household expenses, and purchase all my own clothes, toiletries, and any "extras" that I wanted.  I also saved every spare penny so that I could buy a car of my own asap (I'd been driving one of my mom's during college, but I realized that I needed to be responsible for my own transportation at that point.)  It's a little pathetic, but I didn't consider moving out because I kept hoping that I would meet a guy and get married very soon.  I had just turned 25, so I figured I surely wouldn't be single too much longer.  Moving out seemed counter-productive since I'd just be moving again to live with a husband in the near future...and besides, why should I purchase everything I'd need to live on my own when I could wait and get things as wedding shower gifts?  Or why should I spend all that money on decor when I'd rather wait and pick out decor with my husband who I was just sure would show up soon.  Oh, I had lots of good reasons.  

    After 4 years, though, I accepted the fact that I might not marry after all, and that it was time to move on.  I love my family, and for the most part I enjoyed their companionship, but there were a few tense issues that really pushed me to look ahead and decide where I was going in the future.  Around that time, a rental came available near where I worked, in a safe location, and for a good price...and it was partially furnished!  After a week of intense prayer and consultation with family, friends, and mentors, I chose to sign the lease on the house.  That was 13 months ago.  Since then, I've matured a lot, learned a lot about myself, and to be honest, moving out on my own was one of the best things I've ever done.  I should have done it earlier, probably, but I'll justify NOT moving out earlier by reminding myself that I was able to save up enough money to buy a car with cash, and also set aside some money in a nice little nest-egg for future use on a house, wedding (though I'm not holding my breath anymore on that one), travel, etc.  

    Now.  I'm going to generalize a little bit.  :D  I think there's a difference in a female living at home and a male living at home.  For us girls, there is some sense of needing to be secure and safe.  We can live at home under the protection of our parents, just as someday we might hope to live under the protection of a husband.  I'm not saying that guys shouldn't be safe as well, but it seems that they should be preparing to lead a family (if they feel that they wish to marry someday), and moving out and supporting oneself is part of that process.  Every guy I've date (all two of them), and another close guy friend, lived at home with their parents.  These guys were in their late 20s or early 30s, had full-time jobs, and should have been able to support themselves.  One of them had legitimate reasons for living with his parents, and technically they lived with HIM, not the other way around; that situation was a bit odd, but understandable.  The other two guys lived at home for "free," and saw no point in moving out when it would just cost more money than living at home.  Now that I live alone, and have experienced some of the "growing up" that came from moving out, it's become a yellow flag when I meet a single guy my age who lives at home with his parents without an obvious good reason for doing so.  It's not a red flag, but it definitely makes me hesitate.    

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