Imagine that you live in a really lovely house, where the bills are always paid and the landlord never comes knocking, asking for the overdue rent.
The house is nicely decorated and although your room is somewhat small, your bed linen is of a quality thread count and there is excellent shower gel in the bathroom. At the end of each day, you place your dirty undies in the washing basket and they are cleaned, folded and returned to you promptly.
Three meals a day are cooked and placed on the dining room table for you. They’re beautiful meals. Well-made. Quality ingredients. If you miss dinner time then you can grab something out of the well-stocked fridge. And your contribution to the upkeep of this magical place? No real requirements, perhaps you occasionally make your own bed.
This isn’t a fairytale where hardworking elves, à la Harry Potter, do your bidding. It’s the reality of an increasing number of Gen Ys who are choosing to forgo share house living or buying their own place in favour of staying at home with their parents. Often, well into their 30s.
She’s not expected to contribute to the running of the house in any way whatsoever, financially or otherwise. One of her parents pays for everything. The other does all the washing and cleaning and cooking. Occasionally, Siam does the dishes. She’s also expected to keep her room clean.
She doesn’t earn a living wage from her work as a freelance writer, and she’s had enough of living in shitty sharehouses where the dishes aren’t done and the bills aren’t paid. And she doesn’t care when people judge her for being 30 and still living at home. She writes:
Why should I leave a home I’m happy in just to conform to social norms, when my parents are still happy for me to live here? In fact, my younger sisters, who are in their 20s, still live at home, too.
…My parents have worked hard to build a comfortable family home and are only too pleased that I still want to live in it.
When I moved out in my 20s, Mum was indignant; she took it as a personal insult that I wanted to leave her lovely home and castigated me for frittering away my hard-earned money on paying a greedy landlord’s mortgage.
Siam points out that she’s not at all alone in her circumstances:
In fact, like me, most of my friends are still living with their parents. Not only does it make financial sense, but we recognise we’d be stupid to suffer in discomfort and penury just to prove a point.
Siam isn’t exaggerating.
Across the western world, the numbers of adults still living at home with their parents has been steadily rising. For example, in the US, it was recently determined that 36 per cent of adults aged 18 to 31 still live at home. That’s a 4 per cent increase from five years earlier. In Australia in 2006, it was about 23 per cent and it’s only gone up since then.
And guess what? People hate Siam. There are over 1800 comments on the article, saying that she is “disgraceful” and “selfish” and a “pampered little darling“.
Here’s the part where I tell you: I’m in my early 20s and I still live at home.
With my parents and my grandma. My brother also lived at home until he decided to move Canada for work and it became logistically impossible to live at home anymore.
I don’t contribute to the rent. Often I buy my own groceries if I specifically want something, but there is still a lot available for my use in the pantry. We have a cleaner, so my laundry is generally done for me and I never have to vacuum.
I know – I sound quite spoiled. But I am incredibly grateful for how easy my living situation. And I work my butt off during the week, both at work and at uni, so that my parents can be proud of me. So that they know that I’m not just milking my situation for all it’s worth. And I save my pennies to pay off my uni education and buy a house someday.
The other thing? My parents want me there. They like me there. We enjoy each other’s company and I make these great oat and chocolate cookies.