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"It was the greatest decision": Why all 'adult children' should move out before their 20s.

I left home at 17 and for me it was one of the greatest decisions of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I loved living at home. I didn’t leave because my home life was miserable and I wanted to flee.

I ‘flew the nest’ because I was going to university and there was a 200km distance, two trains and a bus trip (a minimum of three hours- one way) between my home in regional Victoria and my university campus in Melbourne.

At the time, and up until recently, I had thought leaving home at 17 was pretty common. You finish school and you take a leap of faith into the real world.

But it isn’t as quite as common as I thought. In fact, what is becoming more and more popular is for ‘adult kids’ to stay living at home for a longer period of time.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics from both the 2011 and 2016 Census, there was an increase in 18-24 year olds living at the family home with at least one of their parents – 41.4 per cent in 2011 to 43.4 per cent on 2016.

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The reasons why vary and for many, it is a financial decision. Staying at home often equates to less cost and an added ability to save money themselves. With house prices ever increasing, this is seen by many as their only real opportunity to ever afford their own home.

There are also many other reasons – situational, cultural and in some case, convenience. But is staying at home actually beneficial for the ‘adult kids’ or their parents?

Dr Judith Locke, a Clinical Psychologist, says there can be significant issues for both parties by this living arrangement.

“There is evidence to suggest that adults living at home are more depressed,” she says.

This can be caused due by a lack of purpose in the living arrangement. Adult kids often ‘dream’ rather than ‘do’ and this can stop them living independently.

However, this usually only happens when the ‘adult child’ is still acting like a ‘child child’. Not taking on any of the household responsibility like cores, not contributing to bills and not paying rent are some examples of this, says Dr Locke.

moving out of home
The stunning decor of my first share house. Image: Supplied.
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“Too often, adult children tend to revert to childlike behaviours in the presence of their parents. If their parents let them, then these bad habits become more entrenched over time.

“It should be more like a flatmate relationship, where there is mutual respect and both parties are fulfilling responsibilities not just the parents. Otherwise it can be easy for ‘adult children’ to revert back to childlike behaviours.”

Moving away from home taught me important life skills that I would never have learnt otherwise like budgeting money as I studied, worked and socialised.

I also had to look after all the house-hold tasks – the cleaning, cooking, remembering to put the bins out or dealing with the ramifications if I didn’t.

Most of these life skills weren’t fun but they were reality. I am glad I learnt them when I did because they made me an independent, confident and responsible person who could rely on herself.

So while I am a firm believer in ‘flying the nest’ before you hit your twenties (or there abouts), I know for some there is more to it than a rite of passage and for some, staying in the nest does work.

“If your arrangement works for you and everybody within it, then there is nothing wrong with it,” says Dr Locke.

What do you think is the best age for kids to move out of home? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Shona Hendley is a freelance writer from Victoria. An ex secondary school teacher, Shona has a strong interest in education. She is an animal lover and advocate, with a morbid fascination for true crime and horror movies. Shona is usually busy writing and raising her children: three goats, two cats and two humans. You can follow her on Instagram @shonamarion.

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