Recently I had a talk with a fellow recent college grad. She told me I should move out, because moving out gives you a great sense of independence and makes you grow into an adult so much faster. She’s back at home after graduation and her mother is still washing her clothes. She asks her mom for money when she goes out to bars on the weekends. When she was at college, she would call her mom to put food money on her debit card. Such independence.
When I was thirteen years old, my father asked me if I’d like to start working at our family business, a restaurant we own and operate. I was thrilled and said yes. For the past ten years I’ve worked there, throughout high school and in college, when I commuted to the Bronx campus of Fordham university. Since I was 13, I haven’t asked my parents for a single cent for myself. And I’ve lived at home for all my adult life.
When old friends ask me what I’m doing with my life now, they get really condescending when I tell them I live at home. One friend told me, “you were always a homebody” and laughed. I get frustrated, because not only do I enjoy living with my family rather than have to share a bathroom with three other girls, but I truly don’t see what the big deal is all about.
True, that most of the time living at home is a luxury. There’s no rent to pay, no annoying roommates. Lucky for me, I live half an hour away from New York City, so relocating for work was never an option. I understand the necessity for moving out, but I don’t understand the stigma of staying at home.
For me at least, living at home made me force myself into independence. I never wanted to be irresponsible or take advantage of my parents’ hospitality, or stunt my adult growth by letting my mom do my chores. Also, living at home during college gave me perspective about the future. My parents never limited my college activities (shenanigans) but it helped that I knew I was grounded in reality, unlike most college students. It was a vastly different experience, but I’m grateful for it.
“So what now?” people say. “Are you going to move out?” Well, let me tell you: I’d love to follow in my friends’ footsteps and have a fabulous apartment in Chelsea or the Upper East Side, but I can’t afford it right now. Living at home gives me financial security, something I’d rather boast than Central Park views or a short commute. It’s different, once again, but I won’t feel shame about it. I’m proud of it. If my life changes and that New York dream becomes a reality, that will be wonderful. But right now, I’m content with my setup. I’ve cultivated a relationship with my parents, sisters, cousins that would have been sacrificed if I’d moved out for college or after, and those relationships are now invaluable to me.
I think the stigma of living at home is something a lot of young people fear needlessly. There’s no shame in it. And it’s pretty awesome knowing you’re coming home to people who love and support you. If you can do it, don’t be ashamed of it. And save some money in the bargain. Your student loans will thank you.