One-third of those aged 20-34 live at home with at least one parent. Mom’s cooking is just so good!
The trend for young adults to bunk in with their parents is on the upswing. In 2017, a Statistic Canada report showed that over one third of those aged 20-34 were living at home with at least one parent, while the proportion has continued to increase every census since 2011.
While there are plenty of reasons behind the shift, a common factor is often financial, whether a boomerang recovery from early divorce, to pay off school debt or to save for a better launch into life, as a homeowner.
Home ownership is a daunting prospect, particularly the first time round and definitely when considering entry into the market as a solo income household, sans the financial benefits and advantages of coupledom.
And that brings the topic to Jill, currently in a ‘living-at-home-but-ready-for-change’ state. She’s wondering whether to buy a house or not, along with how to know when the time is the ‘right time,’ with a small helping of ‘what about my parents suffering empty nest syndrome?’ on the side.
As a kid, I always thought the natural progression of life was school, job, move out, start a family, and live happily ever after. Now that I’ve officially graduated, once from high school and twice from university, and have that great job, *BAM!* New brick wall.
After journalism school, it seemed natural to move back home while I was interning and on the job hunt. Now that I’ve settled into a career, I’m stuck in this weird place, feeling part adult and part overgrown child, living in my mom and dad’s basement.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m eternally grateful to my parents’ open-door policy. We share a great relationship, and I love hanging out with them. For the most part, I think they enjoy it too… at least that’s what they tell me. But as great as the arrangement is, I still want a place of my own, and the more I see people around me buying homes and settling down, the more embarrassing it seems to still live at home. Karalee, when’s the right time to sacrifice comfort and money-saving for independence?
Yikes there’s no easy answer. I moved out at 21, old for my generation, and I still remember that first night in my own digs. The cross over to adulthood felt exhilarating, and even if rent and other costs left me pretty much broke, it was well worth it to be queen of my own castle. Sure, that first flat was an almost-dump, with donated brown-flowery furniture, but in the 80s, that was the norm. We had different expectations around starting adult lives.
I’m glad you brought up the point about the different standard of living. That’s something that plays a big role in my lack of rush to move out. Why would I want to move into a dingy one-bedroom apartment and spend half of my money on rent and bills when I know I would want to spend 90 percent of my time hanging out with my family at their house, anyway?
When I move out, I want it to be to a house that I’ll feel proud of, a place I can decorate and personalize and turn into a home reflecting who I am, not a temporary fix for the sake of alone time. But, I also don’t want to be a freeloader who can’t be on her own. I’m thankful to have an incredible job that pays well, but buying a house involves a whole new level of debt. I want to be completely sure I’m making the right decision before jumping in.
I get being swept into Homesense, granite-countertop expectations, me included. It’s hard to go backwards, and debt is always scary, especially when you’re taking on a mortgage solo. A good way to get to an answer is by considering your options, which you’re doing. Any other factors to lump into the decision-making process?
Actually, yes. Having a serious partner has also changed the way I think about my future plans, housing included. For the first time in my life I’m in a relationship with someone I can envision a future with, so the decision isn’t just about me anymore. My boyfriend and his brother own a house together, and I love spending time there with them. It feels like home just as much as my parents’ house, and frankly, I’m probably there more than at home.
But that just adds another layer of guilt. In many ways, I already have two homes, and yet, all I can think about it saving up for my own. It feels like owning a home is the next logical step in adulthood, but does it even make sense in my current situation?
Life never does serve up answers on a silver platter. A pro and con list helps the wrestle with big life decisions, and here’s a kitchen sink for you to throw in… What about buying a rental house? Money is cheap (said by a woman who lived through the 21% interest, 12% inflation rates of the 80s), which is a bonus, and a rental will give you leeway for options. You’ll be in the market, someone else paying your mortgage, with the freedom to rent or take that plunge with your boyfriend into the happily-ever-after. (And P.S., Throw away the guilt.)
That doesn’t sound like such a bad idea either. With all this talk about moving out, I do wonder what will happen when I actually do. My father works out west, spending two weeks there and two weeks home, rinse and repeat. When he’s home it’s great, and when he’s not, my mom and I have girl time. But will my mom be lonely when I’m not there every night? Sure, I have a younger sister but she’s about to become a nurse, and the only time she spends at home will likely be sleeping.
I wonder if they’ll be relieved to have more space, or if the empty nest syndrome will tug at them a little. What was it like when the last of your boys went on his way? Any tips for my mom when the time comes?
Remember the natural progression of life? Leaving home is what’s supposed to happen, and your parents also need to get to their next phase, post ‘launching the kids.’ Yup, I’m there, and yup, it was a big adjustment, but it was my job to work through that, not my sons. A year into my youngest leaving the nest, all three sons and I are now freed up for adult relationships and conversation, minus the ‘do this or that's, part and parcel of living with parents, mom’ing on the side. And cripes, Jill, I’m loving it.
I’m glad it’s working out for you guys and hope the same for us. Happily, the great thing about my career is that I can stay in Cape Breton. It’s a relief knowing that when I do move out, it won’t be too far. And the thought of inviting my parents over and treating them to a nice meal, cooked by me in my own kitchen, puts a smile on my face. Hmmm … maybe that habit of scrolling through the “for sale” listings isn’t such a time-waster now.
A millennial from Cape Breton, Jill Ellsworth writes because ink lasts longer than her memory. Half Gen X and half Baby Boomer, Karalee Clerk launched three millennials and is rediscovering and writing about how life works, in the now.