According to an analysis of 2016 U.S. Census data by the Pew Research Center, more young adults are living at home for longer periods time. The data reported that 15 percent of millennials between the ages of 25 and 35 were living at home with their parents; additional research shows that among young adults who had moved back in with their parents, the median length of their stay was three years. Overall, the number of millennials living at home, or moving back in with their parents has increased from previous generations. In comparison, only 10 percent of Generation X-ers between the ages of 25 and 35 lived with their parents in 2000.
It would be too easy to write off the trend of millennials living back at home as a side-effect of the “lazy millennial” myth, but in reality, more millennials are forgoing traditional adult milestones like buying a home or starting a family; all in the name of pursuing advanced degrees and chasing job opportunities, in an economy with exorbitant housing prices and stagnant wages.
At this very moment, I’m one of those on-trend millennials. After I was terminated from a full-time job with benefits last fall, I bounced back-and-forth between unemployment and underemployment for almost six months. A string of freelance gigs, temp jobs, and help from family kept me from homelessness. But it has recently made more financial sense to move back in with a parent. Here are five things I’ve learned:
1. Having an exit strategy is essential.
I've experienced the freedom of living alone, in my own place for almost a year. To say that I was unhappy about moving back to my parent’s home, would be an understatement. But the promise of being able to live on my own again, is ample motivation to have an exit strategy; which includes a written plan with the specific date that I intend to move out, how much money I need to save, and how much debt stands in my way. An exit strategy can also include emergency resources in case living at home stops feeling like a healthy choice.
2. It’s necessary to have a conversation about expectations.
Does my mom love me? Yes. Am I allowed to run amuck while living at home? No. Before I moved back, I knew that it was necessary to have a conversation about my contributions to the household. As a creative freelancer, a wifi connection is my bread and butter, so mooching off of my mom’s internet didn't seem right. I made sure to ask what is expected of me during my stay, so that I can maintain both my independence and my sanity.
3. You will have to do what you don’t want to do, in order to get where you want to be.
I haven’t worked at a full-time job for more than a year, since graduating from college three years ago. I’m finally at a point, where I’m building up work as a writer. But when I moved home, I had to be honest about my poor financial habits and the fact that part-time writing can’t sustain me. As a result, I’ve had to consider things like working a less-than desirable customer service job, in order to help me reach my goals.
4. Parents are people too.
I think that it is easy to forget that our parents are only human. They have lived a lot more life than we have, and they are susceptible to the same successes and failures as us. While I live at home, I want to make intentional time to reconnect with my mom, and take advantage of the fact that we can now have conversations that are more open and more understanding now that I’m an adult.
5. It’s not the end of the world.
I do miss the ability to sit on my own couch sans pants with a glass of wine. But living at home with your parents isn’t the end of the world. It often beats the alternative, and provides the time and motivation to reset your priorities. I had a semi-permanent frown on my face my first few nights back home, but have started to make peace with my reality. It helps that I don’t have to panic about being able to pay rent and utilities for the next year.