A couple of years ago, I wrote a post for Mamamia – my first piece for Mamamia – about why I lived at home. I was 23 at the time, fresh out of uni, and – in hindsight – terribly naïve.
Looking back now, I realise I probably shouldn’t have listed expensive cheeses and fancy shower gels as reasons to stay at home. Ditto those laundry facilities I was so very fond of. Those comments did not make me any friends. The post had me jumping for joy one minute and crying on the phone to my friends the next. Even now I’m still trying to work out what made people so angry.
Anyway… It was probably ironic that only a week after I wrote that piece, I was offered a job that would see me moving out of home or facing one heck of a commute. So I packed up (Mum’s) toaster and entered into the share house life – a life so many commenters had pleaded with me not to let pass by.
Today, I’m still living out of home, and I want to broach that original subject again. Because in the two years since I wrote the original post the conversation hasn’t gone away and if anything, the debate on how long people should stay in the family home is feistier than ever.
And as my friends start to drift from the mid-twenty age bracket towards the ‘holy shit I’m pretty much 30’ cohort, living at home is becoming less and less socially acceptable. At the age of 21 it was normal, at 25 it was justifiable, but at any age thereafter living at home is just an awkward conversation.
When do you think young people should leave home? Is it when they finish high school? When they finish uni? When they’ve landed their first full time job and are ready to enter the serious adult world? And if they do leave home, is it okay to come back and forth in the interest of ‘saving’.
It’s a conversation that’s all too familiar within my circle of friends, most of whom have been coming and going from the family home (or should we call it “home base?”) for years.
On one hand there’s my 22-year-old friend who has her feet firmly planted in the family home. “My parents want me there, I want me there, our house is in a great location and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than renting in Sydney,” she says. “Yes, I enjoy the organic food in the pantry and chatting to my mum when I get home. But beyond all that – my parents would be offended if I moved out just for the sake of moving out.”
Then there’s another 26-year-old friend who’s recently made the move from the family home she shared with her mum, dad and a little brother to a share house with three roommates she met on the internet. She’s more about moving out for the experience. “The experience of being young and living in a share house is one that I would have been sad to miss out on. I like the freedom of doing what I want and growing vegetables in egg cartons on the front porch – can you imagine what my mother would say if I did that in her immaculate garden?”
“It’s just the Australian way,” says another 25-year-old American friend, who just moved back to the states after 10 years in Australia. “People look at me extremely weird when I tell them I lived at home until I moved here. Here they move out of home from college on, but their parents still very much support them.”
I’m still trying to decide where I stand on the issue – or whether it needs to be an issue at all. I see both sides of the argument now; I know what it’s like to
forget neglect to do laundry and run out of clean underwear. I’ve found myself staring simultaneously turning off all the lights in the house while staring at an electricity bill a week before pay day. Am I better for it? I’ll put down on my list of ‘life experiences’ alongside the travel and internships and uni degrees I was able to do because I lived at home until I was 23. Yes, I said that.
So moving out of home. Good move? Bad Move? Necessary move?
I think it’s my 22-year-old friend who sums it up the best: “Living at home is the best possible living arrangement for my circumstances and that’s what I think is the most important at the end of the day – doing what’s best for you and being happy and safe, wherever you are.”
Why then do people get so shitty?
At what point do you think kids should up and leave the family house? When did you move out of home? Was it your decision – or your parents?