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The A to Zs of Living with Your Parents While Going to College

It doesn't have to be terrible. (But it probably will be.)
September 18, 2015, 2:25pm

Welcome home, kid! Make the best of it, because you might never live in a house this nice again. Photo via Flickr user dedhed1950

There is a common misconception that living at home with your parents during university means that you are also missing out on university life, i.e. growing as a person, eating residence food trash, and using weird codewords when trying to score drugs off your campus dealer. You will be missing out on certain experiences that you've seen in the movies, like being able to easily perform the one-night stand, or being able to come home late without dealing with an authority figure.


But in this economy (this awful, student-hating economy) there is one very solid reason to stay home, it's hella cheap. Shacking up with your folks means you'll save on rent, you probably won't have to pay for food and, depending on how little you care about dignity, you can probably even raid their liquor cabinet. People live longer now so you can always grow as a person later on.

With that in mind, here's our A-Z guide on living with your parents and the shitty shit to expect and deal with during the next four years of lying and degrading yourself.

Mmmmm, allowance. Photo via Flickr user rick


WIlliam S Burroughs's parents gave him a weekly allowance well into adulthood, which provided him with the means to all manner of debaucherous behavior and regular flashes of pure literary brilliance. You're likely no Burroughs—more like one of those unfortunate souls whose parents stopped the allowance thing after they turned 15, or never had one in the first place. But your parents still foot the bill for something every now and then, so if your mom ever pays for the odd night out or an occasional bottle of booze, you should embrace the Burroughsian freeloader vibe and enjoy that shit full on.


This dank, crap-filled space that terrified you as a young'un is now your BFF. It is your one reprieve from your parents' nagging—or, in my case, incessant queries on how to use email. The spot where you can smoke weed indoors and it (probably) won't get noticed. The place where you can bring back a babe and have awkward, standing-against-the-laundry-machine sex. Carve out some space amongst dad's prized used car parts collection for a futon, beer fridge, and a crappy TV, since your parents are footing the cable bill. For the next four years, the basement is your lifeline. Own it.


Trashing my parent's house during parties made me an expert cleaner. I'll never forget that sinking feeling I had when my dad walked in the door at 5 AM on New Year's Day, following his graveyard shift, and was greeted by pee in the kitchen fridge and a massive hole in the bathroom created by someone who thought fire extinguishers were meant to be bashed into walls. When he peered outside, he noticed my dickhead friends had poured chocolate syrup all over the neighbor's vintage white Cadillac. Dealing with that mess was hell and, by comparison, made vacuuming everyday, non-bodily-produced stuff such as dust seem like child's play.

So look, I know you'd rather be playing video games and jerking off than doing the dishes but the truth is, even your parents have a breaking point. If mopping the floor once in a while keeps mom from having a Charlie Sheen-level meltdown, it's worth it. Play some music while you're cleaning, time will fly.


Drugs, drinking

It's a known fact that getting fucked up is infinitely harder/lamer when your parents are around. Now you're at an age where you can legally drink so your parents shouldn't really care, but deep down they still do. Either way, you can't let your parents find out that you get half-comatose on your weekends out.

For shenanigans at home, there are some widely accepted tricks. Everyone should know the smoking "spoof" tool by now: laundry sheets inside a toilet paper roll (although this does NOT work for cigarettes). If the spoof doesn't do the job, you can always light some incense as a cover up. Telling your parents that there's a skunk outside might work once, but they're (hopefully) not complete idiots.

If you think you've found a way to smoke cigarettes in secret, you are mistaken and your parents actually know that you smoke. Sorry. If you're drinking in secret at home, you should probably be less concerned with tricking your parents that you're drinking "water" and not straight vodka, and instead asking yourself why you're drinking alone at home and not at a bar with people your own age.


I once came home hungover as shit at noon on a Friday, right in the middle of history or political science 101 (something useless, anyway), and my mom greeted me as I was parking the car. "Why are you skipping class?" was her first question, the most common one among parents of college kids living at home. "Urgha urgha urgha," I mumbled, my brain unable to process an answer that wasn't "I puked on the sidewalk so class seemed like a bad idea." It would have been fine there but then my mom had to come over to the car to scold me, noticing a frilly woman's dress in the backseat. Now, as a good Christian woman, she was very unhappy to see this. She demanded to know what happened and unable to process a good lie I went with the truth: "My rugby team initiated me at a party and I wore that all night." (Not the most original or progressive group, those lads were.) She just stood there, saying nothing, thinking of how it felt like only yesterday she had a sweet little boy and not some loser half-man.

The moral of this story is that if you live at home, you are going to learn whether you are a good liar or not.


Thanks, mom and dad. Photo via Flickr user kaizen.nguyên


Food is expensive as fuck. Lucky you, you only need to buy it when there isn't any at home. As an aside: Savor the shit out of that kitchen pantry, because once you leave the nest, there's no way you'll be buying grain-fed chicken and organic blueberries, or any fruit, tbh. As for grocery shopping, in addition to being straight-up boring, it forces you to abandon your principles when you realize that cruelty-free meat actually costs more than your monthly income. In short, living solo will mean a steady diet of gas station cup noodles and chips.

The only real problem with having an endless bounty of free food is that you have to carry it everywhere, which means you need to start thinking about what a good mobile meal is made of. Harder fruit with a peel, like apples, oranges, and pears are good to usually survive the trek. Sandwiches are easy to make and carry but could get soggy. Once you start wanting to get fancy and bring your fucking soups, stews, and chili to school, your load gets a bit heavier. If you've got optimum space and strength, go for it. Or maybe just learn to exist on coffee and street meat.

Getting some

Getting any is hard enough on its own without the added challenge of finding a decent location in which to get it. Parks aren't ideal, and you will literally freeze your dick/tits/whatever off in winter, which, for some of us, is like half the year. Sure, there are probably staircases around that you can use but let's face it, it's hard to get turned on with hard wooden edges digging into your spine. If you and your fuck buddy both live with your parents, you'll have to seize the small windows of opportunities you'll be granted. Parents going on a short trip? DON'T GO. You have things to do at home. If your parents can't go on vacation, because they have to work overtime to support their bloodsucking offspring, you have a couple other options. Play music in your room while you're having sex. I recommend playing "Drunk in Love" on a loop, which is not only loud, but crazy hot 'cause you can actually picture Jay-Z and Bey going at it. To that end, STFU when you're having an orgasm. It's bad enough you're doing it with your parents in the next room, they certainly do not need to hear anything more than what's absolutely necessary. If you have an actual beau, the two of you could save up with the money you're not wasting on basic necessities, and go on a weekend trip. Hotel rooms = sex all day erryday!


Students who go home for the holidays are treated like gods, showered with attention and—more importantly—exempt from having to help out with any of the boring tasks that make up 99 percent of festivities. You, on the other hand, home dweller, are little more than a work horse. Whether you're celebrating Christmas, Eid, or your little brother's bar mitzvah, if you're living at home, your services will be called upon. This means: Idling in the kitchen while pretending to help mom cook turkey (pro tip: offer to help peel something and take three hours doing it); wrapping presents; smiling politely as your relatives comment on your weight/skin problems as if you hadn't notice that huge breakout on your forehead or the fact that you're kind of chubbs now; pretending to like children, because, as the young person who ostensibly has the most energy, you will be expected to play with them. It's all good though, because the holidays only last a couple of days and there is plenty of booze around to help you muster up the requisite enthusiasm.

Internet (data plan, etc) or Incognito mode

Mooching internet is less fun when your history can be viewed by your family. Unless you want your parents to know about your creepy belly-button fetish (it's a thing) educate yourself on using Incognito Mode (which we're sure you have) if you must share a family computer. If your parents are paying for your data via a family plan: 1) you should never leave home, 'cause that is saweeet; 2) they might for some reason feel entitled to hear from you more often as well. Like, when they ask you how you are and if you ate dinner, answer right away or else you might end up having to pay for that sweet, sweet cyberspace on your own—then you might not be able to afford dinner.


My college job was at a large chain bookstore, which I assumed would be super laid-back and, you know, bookish. It wasn't. Somewhere along the way (I guess when people stopped buying books), the company started going super hard on things like scented yoga mats and knitted pashminas for dogs, thus attracting a mix of insufferable mom bloggers and, because of our central location, drunk homeless people, all of whom demanded lightning-quick service. I started showing up to shifts wasted just to get through the Christmas rush. My friends hosted an intervention. Shit was bleak. Which leads me to my next point: bar jobs are a much better way to go when you're in school. You have flexible hours and pocket lots of tips, and, after your shift is over, you can just stay there and spend all your money on disgusting shots of Jäger. If you do land a paying gig, treat your parents to dinner or something every so often (once a semester is enough). It will give you the feels and also keep up the illusion that you are in some way contributing to the household.



Unless you're an Italian man, living with your parents as an adult is inherently uncool. The only way to make it OK is to take advantage of the situation and throw a party. I'm not talking about sneaking into your dad's liquor cabinet (see: below), or having a few pals over for a polite barbecue, I'm talking about throwing a rager. The kegger is the single most important tradition for house parties in the modern world.

Think big. You want it to be epic enough that on Monday kids will come up to you and say things like, "Dude! I heard a kid broke his leg kicking six cops at your party!"

Your parents want you be responsible. What teaches responsibility more than rushing to clean more than one pile of vomit on the carpet before your parents come home from their holiday?

Liquor cabinet

When I first started drinking, I would refill whatever I stole from my dad's stash with water. Even when I did score my own booze, I was unnecessarily sketchy about it, hoarding all my girlfriends into my brother's room to down shots and then making my exit falling down drunk, leaving the empty bottle of Bacardi in plain sight. Neither strategy worked very well, and the result was one pissed off dad. Depending on how cool your parents are, things should be better now that you're legal age. They might even Here's a quick guide:

Chill parents: The liquor cabinet is a blessing.

Not chill parents: The liquor cabinet is a trap.


Worst-case-scenario parents: The liquor cabinet doesn't exist.


You're not 14 anymore… by now you should really have mastered the art of covertly jerking off while your parents are around (and have figured out a way of dealing with the ensuing shame spiral). Just make sure to clean up any banana mess.


Admittedly, you're a little more limited when you live at home because you don't have the benefit of having debaucherous roommates on hand to go get fucked up with you. But, your living sitch has its advantages. You can pre-drink for free at home, ideally with your dad's cheap vodka (see: above). And, because you have extra pocket money, you can afford to get so wasted that you idiotically buy all 15 of your homies a round of tequila shots and not have to wake up to the realization that you just spent your rent money in one night. On some losers from your philosophy class. Also, when you get back home, you have an unlimited supply of munchies. Forget the nasty $1 pizza, y'all got leftover butter chicken.

Orgasms (specifically your parents')

If you have not yet borne witness to the act of your birth-givers fornicating, consider yourself lucky. Although they have probably had plenty of practice trying to keep quiet, I guess sometimes the power of the orgasm can just take over vocal chords and genitals alike. Accidentally hearing your parents having sex even has a name, according to Urban Dictionary: "accidental incest." Everyone remembers the moment when they realize that their parents still have sex and—dear lord it's been happening feet away from you for your entire life. When listening to a roommate have crazy kinky sex, you can kind of brush it off and know that it's something you can hold against them when your times comes for equally crazy kinky sex. Not so much with mom and dad. Ew.

Thanks for being prescribed Percocet and deciding it "makes your head too fuzzy," Mom! Photo via Flickr user e-Magine Art


Prescription meds

As semi-old people, your folks will have more serious medical problems, so when it comes to prescription drugs, they'll get the good shit. Dad's hernia removal = weeks of T3-induced blackouts. If your parents are anything like mine, they'll have a brilliant assortment of meds tucked away in their closet, enough not to notice if you snake a few pills here and there. Why fuck with Melatonin when you can have a Xanax?

Quarter-life crisis

At the height of my quarter-life crisis, I came home after a night of partying and discovered that my mom had removed and hidden all the stove-top elements because she didn't trust me to cook mac and cheese without burning the place down. I was 24 and she was literally baby-proofing the house. To be fair, I had passed out drunk with the stove on twice, setting off the smoke alarms. But still, it felt patronizing. At the time, I also had a dead-end job and was in a mediocre relationship, so, perfect quarter-life crisis trifecta. If you're in a similar boat—like you're almost done your archaeology degree when you realize it's a lot of goddamn boring lab work and there are zero situations involving stealing religious relics from the Nazis—relax. The fear that comes with having no financial stability, nothing and no one to call your own, might just be the kick in the ass you need. Stop stress-crying in the public bathroom and use the time you have left in school to build contacts (a.k.a. kiss ass to profs who can help you get a job later). You probably won't end up a failure, but even if you do, at least you're in good company these days. Blasting Taylor Swift's "22" on repeat will help, too.


Rent, aka the act of paying cash money for housing, is still a foreign concept to you. Perhaps not as foreign as the actual musical Rent, but still way outside of your wheelhouse. Once you leave the house, you will be rent's bitch, probably for the rest of your life. For now, you can breezily spend that few hundred dollars a month on crap like: a new video game console, tickets to a sports game, a premium porn subscription, grillz. But the smart thing to do is save that cash for when you eventually move out of the house: you'll need it to pay the rent.

If you're one of those unfortunate people whose parents are charging you rent because they're trying to teach you a lesson, the lesson is this: "Get the fuck out of our house." And you should heed it, because why pay rent and live at home?



Even if you're one of those weirdos who, like, listens to your parents and "pulls your weight" around the house, living at home means you're somewhat spoiled. Your parents can't help it, you're their baby and they're going to treat you like a baby. Yes, it's suffocating at times, but try to enjoy it. In my case, my mom did everything for me. I mean, she actually transported my dirty, blood-stained clothing to my dad's place, because he has a laundry machine and I didn't want to pay for the coin-operated ones, and then my dad would do said laundry and fold it, and my mom would pick it up and bring it back to our apartment. My parents aren't even together—they're just really shitty friends. Point is, no one is ever going to treat you as well as your parents do, unless you pay them handsome amounts of money. Bask in it.


It is 2015, and we are experiencing Peak TV. But with the exception of the Oscars, sports, and Game of Thrones finales (Jon Snow lives!), there is no goddamn reason in the world to actually sit on a couch around a television with your family. That being said, this is a good time for bonding (bad Game of Thrones sex assault scenes aside). Talking to your mom about sports or the Oscars requires virtually no cognitive effort on your part ("Those Blue Jays sure hit the biscuit right good, mom.") and will make your parents feel good about your "relationship" because you are "communicating." Why not do this, it might get you out of doing chores on Saturday morning sometime because they don't think you are literally a garbage person.

Uncle Hugs

More commonly known as that family member (usually uncle) who embraces a little too tight and a little too long for comfort. You'll have to deal with these more often when you live at home, close to you family. If it's not your uncle, it's your residence advisor, so it's a wash.


Having access to a car is definitely a plus, especially if you live in a city where transit is less than useful. But that convenience often comes with a price, like pairing your drive home from exams with picking up your dad and his retired work buddies from their annual Christmas season get-together at their divey local, where they think they can still pound pints like in the good ole days. Get ready for dumb jokes, excessive chortling, and more than a few questions about "the girls at school" as you try to discern ever-shifting verbal directions for where you need to go to drop the crew members off. Almost makes you want to consider a metropass, or at least having a little more sympathy for cabbies.


Take Amber Rose's sage life advice and turn your walk of shame into a walk of no shame! Walk Of No Shame with Amber Rose from Funny Or Die

Walk (home) of shame

Speaking from experience, the walk home of shame is about 35,948,732,803 times worse than if you were walking home to your parent's home shamefully (This is only funny if you are old and home for Christmas holidays.) Parents wake up early, always early enough to watch you take your first steps through the threshold—whether there are shoes on your feet or not. Neighbors judge you and there's probably a rumor going around the hood that you aren't aware of. With your now-greasy hair, tired eyes, and slouchy walk, it's pretty obvious. This might explain the glances that you've been getting on the way home from your late classes. Old people on porches are terrible things.


All parents are racist. Some more than others, but they all are to some extent. You can't teach an old dog new tricks and you also can't teach your parent to be politically correct and to stop referring to your friends by their ethnicity. Your newfound inner political justice warrior from the clubs at school won't take any effect on your parents, or aunts, and especially grandparents. Home is where the lost cause is.


While the tenets of YOLO, the most important new religion of the 21st century, seem contrary to living with your parents, just remember that your parents are TOLO (They Only Live Once). Soon they will be dead and you could be left with the memory of being an asshole to the parents who raised you and, more importantly, allowed you to live with them long after you could have been expected to get the hell out. YOLO's second commandment is "Don't be such a shitbird."


Stay away from your pets, kids!