How to Deal with Living with Your Parents in Your 20s
Moving in with the people who made you is actually great if you're not a big human baby about it.
A young man who actually doesn't live with his parents, but you know, he's in a bedroom—you get the idea. Photo by Carl Wilson
This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
Living with your parents as an adult isn't ideal. It's nice, for instance, to have your own place, so you can decide which house plants you're going to buy and then never, ever water them. Or to be able to burn and irreversibly ruin saucepans without your mom screaming your full name at you. Or just, you know, have somewhere that's yours.
It's unfortunate, then, that more and more young people are now living with the people who raised them. According to the most recent survey out of the UK's Office of National Statistics, in 2013, 3.3 million 20- to 34-year-olds were living with their parents in the UK, a 25 percent increase from 1996. The main reasons for this, though bleak, are not surprising: financial insecurity among young people, topped off with a high cost of living.
However, living at home doesn't have to be shitty. Think about the positives: At least you have parents who are happy to house you until you get a job or work out what you're doing with your life. But if that's not good enough for you, you spoiled baby-human, here are a few more benefits to living with the people who made you.
THE LUXURY OF BEING ABLE TO THINK ABOUT YOURSELF LOADS
Living at home, especially if you've just graduated or are unemployed, gives you a better chance of figuring stuff out. Say you're spending the majority of your measly salary to rent an actual garden shed to live in: You're going to be a bit all over the place, aren't you? Come home from slaving away behind a desk all day, and you're not going to want to do much serious life thinking. The thinking goes that the stability of family life will allow you to establish what motivates you and to work out the steps you need to take to get the job you actually want. Or at least one you hate a little less.
Emerald, a 25-year-old trainee teacher, has lived with her parents in Sheffield for the past two years. The stability of home life—and her parents' advice—helped her identify all the things she did and didn't like in the world of work, before realizing teaching was the right idea for her. Without the luxury of "having the time to sit and think, to write my application, to try it out," she's unsure that she would have ever gone down that road.
GET TO KNOW YOUR PARENTS BETTER BEFORE THEY DIE
According to plenty of people I spoke to, being able to strengthen their relationship with their parents is one of the best things about "boomeranging" back home.
Bryony, a 26-year-old communications executive, lived with her parents in Kent on and off for eight months while she looked for work. She listed "spending time with my parents now we're all adults" as one of the most significant pros of her time there. "Although I was a bit worried we would fight like when I was a teenager, it was actually really nice, and I felt I got to know them much better as people rather than just 'parents.'"
And she makes a solid point: They are people, your parents, just like the sort you see in pubs or at bowling alleys. They probably have some semi-decent stories they'll actually share with you now you're at an age where they're no longer buying your clothes, so use your time with them to talk, rather than just going straight up to your room and scrolling through Instagram until your phone runs out of battery.
"Embrace it," says Helen, a 25-year-old teacher from Birmingham. "There's probably never going to be another time in your life when you're going to live with your parents. Sooner or later, it won't be there anymore, and you're going to miss it."
I MEAN, YES, YOU SAVE A TON OF MONEY
There's no shame in this one being a big motivation for moving home, assuming, obviously, you're lucky enough to have the option. But there has to be a purpose to it; you can't just be a lay around, telling your friends you're working on becoming a screenwriter while doing exactly zero writing and just waiting for production companies to hit you up on LinkedIn.
"Treat it as a safety net, but don't get comfy—it's not a hammock," says Rob, a 28-year-old personal trainer from London. "Use it as a base to build up to a point that you can take the first step toward your independence and keep your focus on that goal."
That goal could be anything, really, from saving for big things like a flat or further education, to small but equally important stuff, like taking an InDesign course or learning how to cross stitch so you can make terrible rap lyric cushion covers and sell them on Etsy. Having goals gives you something to aim for, stops you being a sponge, and hopefully staves off all that self-loathing.
IT'S A GOOD OPPORTUNITY TO ADDRESS ANYTHING THAT NEEDS ADDRESSING
One in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, and for young people, anxiety and depression are particularly prevalent. Although everyone has his or her own way of dealing, the stability of living at home is usually a bit more of a positive force than, say, squatting a derelict Carphone Warehouse or living with housemates who really like doing cocaine and shouting at one another.
Depression was a determining factor in Emerald's decision to move back in with her parents. Living abroad with a poor support network, she was finding it increasingly difficult to cope with everyday life
"When I came back, I wasn't in a particularly good place," she says. "I found it hard to get up and do stuff, and it was nice to be somewhere where I couldn't just lie in bed all day: Someone will come along and make you get up. There's that kind of level of support. Having that really gave me the space I needed to work it out, go see my doctor, go see a therapist—basically sort myself out."
REALIZE IT'S A HUGE BLESSING, NOT A CURSE
Remember that being able to ping back into a rent-free or highly subsidized existence is a huge luxury, not your basic human right as offspring. Treat your parents with respect, don't throw a hissy fit when they ask you to wash your own clothes or stop collecting your nail clippings in a Tic Tac container on the night stand, because it's fucking gross.
Moving in with parents who will look out for and look after you is a luxury only a lucky few can rely on, so don't take it for granted.