What It Really Feels Like… To Live With Your Parents As An Adult

Why is living at home still seen as a sign of failure? Siam, 31, explains why moving back in with her parents was the best thing she's ever done


by Siam Goorwich |
Published on

It’s been another long week full of work stress, crap dates and hopeless gym sessions. I’m tired, fed up, squashed on a packed train and trying to plot my escape plan (become a Buddhist, move somewhere with no phones or internet...). Then I get home. As I walk through the door my dad asks after my day, as mum calls from the kitchen to say dinner will be ready in ten. And suddenly everything is alright with the world. Because I’m 31 and still live with my parents. And it’s pretty fucking great.

Bar a couple of years in an occasionally nightmarish house share in East London, which price-per-lols gave a pretty shitty return, I’ve been living back at home for nearly 10 years now. I never intended to stay for so long, but time flies when you’re not having to worry about everyday shit like cooking, cleaning, laundry, general maintenance, psychopathic landlords, or that strange smell in the hallway.

I’m not alone. Last year the ONS (Office of National Statistics) recorded that there were 3.3 million 20-34 year-olds still living at home. On its own, that doesn’t mean much, but when you compare that to the numbers from 1996 (when records began) you’ll see it’s a staggering rise of 25%, and the highest recorded number yet. Another set of statistics released this weekrevealed that while more young people than ever before are in full time education, fewer than ever are working at the same time – because there simply aren’t enough jobs. None of which makes paying £600 a month in rent for a tiny double room an attractive option. Broken down – living at home is officially a growing trend, ie trendy. (Which in the real world translates to sexy. Living at home is sexy.)

I haven’t always felt quite so Zen about my living situation. There have been times where I’ve wanted (but not quite enough to actually spend money doing so) to live anywhere, with anyone, except at home with my family. Times when living at home has felt like THE WORST THING EVER – like it was dragging me down, ruining my chances of happiness both now and in the future, the absolute nadir of everything that was wrong with my life. But eventually I got over it. Because if you look at it in the cold light of day, living at home is awesome.

And of course, there are times when we want to kill each other. Just the other week I lost the plot over someone eating the last egg, which I’d earmarked for my breakfast, and my mum is convinced that she's the only one who ever puts any plates in the dishwasher. But, unlike living with strangers or friends, resentments don't fester.

If the perks of less responsibility and lure of being a bona fide trendsetter hasn’t convinced you that the best move you can make is back home, then maybe the cold, hard, economics might. According to property firm Countrywide, the average rent in the UK is now at an all-time high of £854 a month. House prices rose by an average of 8.4% last year, meaning the average house price in London is just shy of £500,000, making the average deposit needed by first-time buyers more than £56k. Now I don’t know how much you’re earning, but in my world those are some pretty big numbers. It also explains why the number of people still sharing flats into their 40s has gone up by 50% in the last five years.

I know I’m lucky – my parents live in London and have a spare room with my name on it. Not everyone has this set up. But if those who do left the renting market and moved back home to save up a bit of cash, not only would they be putting themselves in a far stronger financial position for the future, but they’d also be freeing up a helluva lotta rental space for everyone else.

Government proposals that housing benefits for under 25s should be scrapped are based on the assumption that parents can and will provide for their offspring up until this age. Equally, we’re always being told that there’s a housing shortage and that the only reason landlords can charge such ridiculous rents is because demand is just so high. So, surely, if those of us who could live at home did, that would help a little?

The number of friends I have still living at home suggests that I’m not the only one thinking this – so perhaps we need to fundamentally change the way we view the family unit. And if the cost of housing continues to rise at such a hefty rate, perhaps we’ll have no choice.

And why, when the perks are so bountiful (just like the fridge), and the economics so fricking plain for all to see, do we insist on turning this whole living at home thing into such a massive downer? If you ask me it’s a peculiarly British thing, like Boris Johnson and Marmite. You see, while we’re all over here making a bit old fuss, mourning the end of independence (for us young folk), and spare/ hobby/ storage rooms (for the oldies), out there in the rest of the world, staying at home well into adulthood is the norm. When I asked one of my best friends why she’s still at home her reply was simply, ‘I’m Brazilian, and over there it's quite normal to live at home until you’re married.’ Well, that told me.

In fact, forget your croissants and double-shot macchiatos, if you really want to live à la our European cousins, you’ll stick with your ’rents as long as possible. In Italy, for instance, 62.3% of 18-34 year-olds were officially living with their parents in 2011. In fact, 11.8% of 45-64 year olds over there still live with them… although, I think we can all agree that’s taking it a bit too far.

Occasionally, some smart Alec pulls the ‘but what about your poor parents’ card, and then whines on about how they must be desperate to ‘get shot of me’, and pities them for having such a useless lump of a daughter (OK, they don’t use those exact words, but that’s what they insinuate). Thankfully, I can reply with all certainty that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only do my parents love having me – plus my two younger sisters AND the cat – around, but they’re also staunchly proud, and rightly so in my opinion, to have created a loving, comfortable, family home in which we all still want to live in (well, we assume the cat wants to be there… she returns every night).

Maybe in generations past, the cultural gap was insurmountably wide, but that’s just not the case any more. A not-untypical night in the Family G house involves me rustling up a spot of dinner, before we all hit the sofa for some boxset action (we’ve just started Breaking Bad – my Christmas present to my dad), while passing round the iPad for various email checking, random fact googling and online shopping. And it’s not just us feeling the inter-generational love. A recent study by the Pew Research Centre in America found that 34 per cent of people aged 18-34 felt that living with their parents at this stage in life had improved their family relationships. Happy days.

Look – it’s not sex, drugs and rock’n’roll (obviously), but is that really such a bad thing? Sure, the sex part is tricky – bringing someone home isn't an option, and you're always walking the fine line between lying (about your whereabouts, who you're with etc) all the time and your entire family knowing TMI – but it's doable.

If we’re being honest, what most of us really want when we walk through the door after another (delete as appropriate) day of sucking up to a boss who clearly hates us/shitty date with someone who only looks like their profile picture after three glasses of cheap white wine with one eye closed/gut-wrenching spin class, is somewhere warm, clean and quiet to zone out and recharge for rounds 2/3/4/5 the next day. If our parents happen to be sleeping in the next bedroom, who really cares?

Follow Siam on Twitter @MissSisiG

Photograph: Richard Gaston

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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