lifestyle

30-years-old, with no plans to move out of home. Selfish or sensible?

This is why your children don’t want to leave home.

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.

Siam Goorwich, has written an article about her life as a 30-year-old freelance writer, who still lives at home with her parents. And Siam – understandably – loves it.

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.

Siam claims that she can’t move out.

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:

Siam (image from the Daily Mail)

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“.

Now.

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.

Nat out the front of her house with her grandma.

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.

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They also travel a lot and need me around to look after grandma, so they don’t have to stress. (Mum, I know you’re reading this – I’ll be home at 8pm.)

And grandma loves having me there. Seeing her every day is the highlight of my life. She has endless enthusiasm at seeing me awake and home and eating her soup even if it is 38 degrees outside.

I don’t have any immediate plans to move out, either.

Firstly, because I come from a European family, who genuinely think it’s entirely reasonable – as Siam points out in her article – for children to still live at home, really right up until they get married. It’s not just limited to kids – the more relatives, the better. Hence my grandma’s presence (who is really living it up in her own little section of the house).

Secondly, I live in Sydney where paying $250/week for rent is considered cheap. One of my colleagues pays $470/week for a two-bedroom apartment she describes as a “crack den”.

Granted, with a little bit of struggle and a lot of eating of two minute noodles for dinner, I could potentially move out of home. But I agree with Siam – I’m not going to do so just for the sake of doing so.

And the great majority of my Gen Y friends are also refusing to do so.

The only ones who live out of home these days are those who:

a) hate their parents, or

b) can’t live at home because of geographical issues (hard to live at home when you’re on exchange in Texas), or

c) have somehow magically managed to save up enough money for a house deposit of their own.

Those who do live at home aren’t just putting their feet up on the couch to let mum vacuum around them. They’re incredibly hard-working, saving their hard-earned cash for various life goals. They’re also incredibly respectful and would happily do whatever their parents asked of them – whether it was doing the dishes or cleaning the shower.

Siam with her family

In this post-GFC world of financial hardship, questionable job availabilities and less-than-generous salaries, I really think we’re just going to have to get used to this new culture, where kids don’t necessarily move out just because they’ve turn 18.

And I really think we should stop arguing the whole, “but EVERYONE needs to move out and experience the hardship of living out of home at some point in their lives!” point.

That’s like saying that everyone needs to go backpacking around India for a year in order to be a Proper Person.

It’s like saying that everyone needs to do a law degree or own a dog or have a child, in order to live life properly.

One specific life experience does not define a person. One circumstance does not make you better, or make you worse. You become the person that you become because of a huge range of factors – not simply because of where you live, or with whom.

My final word about living at home or not living at home? It’s all about doing what’s best for you. Sorting out the best possible living arrangement for your circumstances at the time. And being happy and healthy and safe, wherever you are.

If Siam’s happy and she’s not hurting anyone? Then good on her. Let’s all leave her alone to enjoy her chicken breast, her apple crumble dessert, her clean bed sheets and her beautiful family.

What do you think about adults still living at home with their parents?