Things You Only Know If… You Live With Your Parents At 29

Anna Behrmann, 29, moved back home to save money. It’s had its ups and downs...

Living with parents

by Anna Behrmann |

When I told my friends I was moving home, they reacted with barely disguised horror. One of my best friends offered her sympathy: ‘Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.’ Another spoke about someone else moving back home as if it signalled a full-blown crisis: ‘She’s split up with her boyfriend, quit her job – and now she’s living with her parents.’ I tried to tell them that it wasn’t that bad – he’s still on the scene and work’s fine, thanks – but they looked unconvinced.

I moved back in with my parents nine months ago, after hassle with my last flatshare. The landlord had sent in builders without any warning to carry out major renovations. I came back to the flat that night to 20 panicked WhatsApp messages from my flatmates, scaffolding outside the building and my bedroom windows left wide open to let out the dust. The flimsy illusion that this was our home evaporated.

Although freelance writing can have its ups and downs, I earn enough money to rent. But the idea of having to find a new flatshare to move into put things into perspective. So I made a positive – and what I thought of then as reasonable – decision to move in with my parents. We get on well and, crucially, I want to save enough money to eventually buy somewhere myself.

And I appreciate that I’m lucky to have parents who live in (suburban) London and don’t mind having me back home (much). But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been difficult moments. I sometimes feel like an overgrown child, dragging my feet on family outings. And, unexpectedly perhaps, I have felt my confidence dip.

I know that I can make my own decisions, but there’s something about living at home that makes me question my own judgement – I find myself asking my parents’ advice much more often. It doesn’t help that I get daily unsolicited directions from my mum: I need to throw my shoes out, apparently, because they are ‘disintegrating’. My nail varnish is chipped, which is ‘unprofessional’.

I admit to a few teenage moments, too. Until recently, my mum was coming in to my room every day to take mugs and plates downstairs. She wanted every room in her house to be tidy and well-presented – including the one that I happened to be living in. I fought back against the daily invasion of my territory and, thankfully, we have now called a truce. I’m tidier and she (almost) always knocks before entering.

My boyfriend Daniel has his own place, but occasionally stays over. That’s not a problem – my parents like him – except for Cornflakes-gate. My parents are very health-conscious, so the breakfast options are raw oats, hemp, flaxseed and sunflower seeds. Daniel decided to bring his own kingsize packet of cornflakes. My dad asked (several times) if Daniel knew about the amount of sugar in cornflakes; my mum was offended by the bright packaging. She threw away the cardboard box, and the contents disappeared suspiciously quickly too: I found out later that the cornflakes were being siphoned o to feed birds on the lawn.

That said, there are huge positives – not least, the chance to get to know my parents better. My dad moved to London from South Africa when he was in his thirties and I’ve never known much about his ‘previous life’. Now, we go for long walks on Hampstead Heath and he’s told me how he came to London as a foreign correspondent. When he returned to Johannesburg on a trip to meet with his editors, he hid documents in his luggage which exposed a South African government scandal. After the story was published, he had to shake off secret service agents.

Meanwhile, my mum has launched an entirely new career in the last 10 years. Having known her first and foremost as a mum, now that I’m living with her again I can see how increasingly confident and devoted to her work she is – it’s inspiring to be around.

Living with my parents is also surprisingly fun. I got them into watching Fleabag. I taught my dad to use Twitter and he has almost mastered it, apart from when he thinks he is tweeting politicians about Brexit but is just angrily tweeting himself. He wants me to teach him Instagram next, so he can share his photographs of the birds with the world. In return, I am now an expert on the blue tits and jays in the garden and I can hold my own in a conversation about geraniums. It feels as if I am learning about the joys of retirement just slightly ahead of time.

In the meantime, I reassure myself that I am far from the only one in my late twenties living at home, as wages have failed to keep up with spiralling house prices. The thinktank Civitas reported earlier this year that, between 2003 and 2017, the number of 20- to 34-year-olds living with their parents rose by one million, to 3.4 million.

Even celebrities are boomeranging. Anthony Joshua earns a fortune boxing, but he chose to move back home with his mum in North London. BAFTA winner Jodie Comer still lives in her childhood home in Liverpool and Helena Bonham Carter lived with her parents until she was 30.

There’s also a kind of magic in getting another chance to live with your parents as an adult – even if, at the same time, I wouldn’t mind moving out as soon as possible.

READ MORE: The Best Places To Kit Out Your Home On The Cheap That Aren't Ikea


SHOP: The Best Places To Kit Out Your Home On The Cheap

The Best Places To Decorate Your Home On The Cheap That Aren't Ikea
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Behind every Ian Snow piece lies a story. A tradition, a way of doing things, carefully preserved through the generations. Inspired by Ian's travels to India in 1969, his daughters Daisy and India work alongside him and their mother from their farm in Devon.

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If you've ever been into an Anthropologie store you'll know the overwhelming feeling of wanting everything in sight. From soft furnishings to glassware, they stock near enough everything for any room in the house.

The Best Places To Decorate Your Home On The Cheap That Aren't Ikea
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CREDIT: Zara Home

Zara Home is about to launch a new online collection, so you no longer have to go in store to get your fix.

The Best Places To Kit Out Your Home On The Cheap That Aren't Ikea
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With 33 stores all over the UK, stock changes regularly but they claim they are 60% cheaper than other retailers. Although you can't shop online, which is a bit of a pain. Their beautiful rustic tables are seriously sturdy. Also their beautiful blue & white cushion with serious top texture is a stand out accessory for your sofa (£7.99). You can't buy online so a visit to store is essential.

The Best Places To Kit Out Your Home On The Cheap That Aren't Ikea
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If you've been missing out on Sainsbury's range of homeware then you need to jump on the bandwagon pronto. This beautiful scarf-print bed linen is only £31 and pretty enough to make you ditch plain white bedding for life. They also have some very reasonably priced soft furnishing like this oil paint cushion (£12) to instantly add a unique interior twist without blowing the budget.

The Best Places To Kit Out Your Home On The Cheap That Aren't Ikea
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While you're browsing ASOS looking for an outfit for the last minute boozy brunch you've agreed to attend this weekend, pop some bedding, towels and plant hangers (this one's only £16!) in your basket from the website's homeware range. It's cheap, durable and (most importantly) uniquely stylish.

The Best Places To Kit Out Your Home On The Cheap That Aren't Ikea
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With over 140 stores in the UK with so much to choose from and is suitable for a range of budgets. Their home accessories are particularly good for those with less cash to splash. From their decor range their blue ribbed glass bud vase at £5 is perfect for stems and their metal and glass lantern is just stunning for £8. Also you may not know it yet, but their Albany gold table lamp is exactly what you need in your life. (£104).

The Best Places To Kit Out Your Home On The Cheap That Aren't Ikea
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Offering everything from furniture to wall art, throws, cushions, vases and even a dedicated wedding range. You do have to root around, but you'll find some gems. Check out the hanging chair from their garden essentials, or their Pinterest-worthy ivory arched mirror for £57.99. Their Laos Trail wallpaper is beautiful with a price to match at £14.99 a roll and their Lobster cushion taps into the tapestry trend for just £3.99.

The Best Places To Kit Out Your Home On The Cheap That Aren't Ikea
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Decorator's Notebook specialise in handmade home accessories from fair trade groups, social enterprises and artisan co-operatives all over the world. Their ethos is that design quality and ethics can go hand in hand and allow customers to create a beautiful home without compromising their style or their conscience.

The Best Places To Kit Out Your Home On The Cheap That Aren't Ikea
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A family-run business with unusual pieces. Their geometric vases are so nice it's hard to know if you'd look at the flowers or the vase and their black distressed whale book ends will make even your crappy old uni books look interesting.

The Best Places To Kit Out Your Home On The Cheap That Aren't Ikea
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Wilko calls itself the 'home of family value' retailer. And although it sounds a bit like a razor, it's actually just an amazing shop that sells just about everything. You could kit out your entire home this way, but highlights right now are a slick bookcase from their Julian Bowen range for £140, or this Anthropologie-esque duvet set for just £14.

The Best Places To Kit Out Your Home On The Cheap That Aren't Ikea
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Launched in October 2014, this boutique scours the globe for handmade pieces which means your mates won't automatically have the same wardrobe as you. We're very into this chevron chest of drawers, par example.

The Best Places To Decorate Your Home On The Cheap That Aren't Ikea
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Mostly known for their clothes, H&M has recently upped it's game and stepped into the homeware market. And with pieces such as this rattan basket for just £9.99 it's no surprise the new venture is doing well.

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CREDIT: Marks & Spencer

Seeing a theme here? Yep, there are plenty of supermarkets offering cheap homeware, including Marks & Spencer. This leaf print cushion is only £12.50!

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