I attended a large university in a small town in West Texas. There was no doubt in my mind that after graduating, I was moving back home to the metroplex. In my head, I would get a job, save my money for six months, then move out and be on my own again. That’s not how it played out at all.
I came back home two days after graduating and had three or four different interviews lined up. The jobs were very misleading when I applied and ended up being door-to-door sales job in which you only made commission. Needless to say, I was still jobless.
Since I graduated in December, all my friends who were still in school were home for Winter Break so it felt just like high school again and we were all hanging out at my parents’ house just like old times. When the break was over, everyone went back to school, and there I was alone…in my parents house. Just me, my mom, my dad (before he moved back to Ghana a couple of months later), and Laila. (Laila was my newly inherited pitbull, I was supposed to be dogsitting for one weekend, and my brother never came back to get her. It’s ok you can laugh, I did too.)
Having all that time to myself, I had nothing to do except think. I didn’t have a job, and the whole moving out in six months would be impossible considering two months had already flown by and I had no disposable income. Four years prior to that I had been living on my own, be it in a dorm or in my own apartment.
Living back at home is different. I can’t go in and out of the house as I please. I have to let my mom know when I’m leaving, where I’m going and when I will be back. The last time I had to do all of these things I was a teenager. When all these rules started coming into play, I changed my bio on Twitter to “22 with a curfew, for booking contact my roommate: Mom.” That was the perfect way to summarize my life at the moment.
I tried my best to make my living arrangement as “apartment-y” as possible. My mom’s room is downstairs and my room is upstairs, so I would consider the upstairs portion of our house my apartment. The only time I really needed to go downstairs was to go to the kitchen or to leave the house.
When you move out you’re used to doing things your own way on your own time. Now, I got fussed at for not washing dishes when my mom wanted them washed. I got fussed at for staying out too late; I was no longer my own boss. Do you know what it’s like to be out with your friends and it’s only 11 p.m. and your mom is calling you asking where you are? Or to have to tell your friends that they need to keep it down because your mom is asleep downstairs? Or, my personal favorite, having to argue with your mom that leaving the house at 10:30 p.m. is completely normal and just because it’s December doesn’t mean you can’t wear a little black dress when going out… this is my life right now!
I make it seem all bad, but there’s actually quite a few perks to living at home. The biggest pro to this situation? I don’t have to pay rent. I didn’t find a job until 6 months after graduation. At that point, when I started getting a regular paycheck, I started giving $300 a month to my mom to help out. Mind you, she didn’t ask me to, but I know that if I fell out of the habit of paying something, it would be hard once I move out and actually had to. $300 to have a roof over my head is as good as it’s going to get so even when I don’t want to, I consider myself lucky.
With paying back school loans and trying to have somewhat of a social life, I couldn’t imagine living on my own and paying rent and other bills that come with the luxury of having my own apartment. I often find myself very happy to still have the opportunity to live with my parents because I know so many who say that if they had the chance they would have done the same. One of my older cousins, who graduated college when I graduated high school, told me I would be thankful for my living situation in the long run. When she finished school, she found herself in a sea of debt and now at 31, she’s still paying for it. She says if she would have moved back home like her parents suggested, she would have saved a lot more money. But because she was so eager to be on her own, she is still paying for it 10 years later.
Here’s the best advice I can give about moving back home:
If you want to be treated like an adult, act like one. My mom doesn’t ask much of me, but at the end of the day no matter how old I am I will always be her child. If you’re going to be out late, let your parents know. They’re your parents; they’re still going to worry. Communication goes a long way. My mom understands that I want to go out and do my own thing; she just wants to know about it. At first I felt like I had to ASK her to stay out, which wasn’t the case at all. All I needed to do was TELL her where I would be so she wouldn’t have to worry.
This will help your living in situation in more ways than one. This can prevent unwanted tension in the house. My mom and I both work full time so we’re exhausted when we get home. If she cooks, I’ll clean up after and vice versa. It helps when you can divide and conquer. This simple strategy can go a long way.
Earlier I stated I give my mom $300 a month to help with expenses so I don’t fall out of the habit of paying rent. Offering my mother compensation also helps because she can’t argue that I’m living under her roof for free. My mom could cut the cable off and there would be nothing I could do about it, if I wasn’t helping with the bill. And if you’re living with your parents because you don’t have a job therefore you can’t give monetarily, offer another type of contribution like doing chores or something of the sort. You can’t really control or complain about anything that you’re not contributing to. “If you don’t pay, you don’t have a say.” It’s almost like getting into a club for free and then complaining about how bad the DJ is. You didn’t pay for it… ok maybe that wasn’t the best comparison, but hopefully you’re picking up what I’m throwing down.
It’s not easy living with your parents after moving out, but it can be very worthwhile. With the economy down, saving money should be on everyone’s to do list. So if you’re lucky enough to have that option, go for it! Having your mom for a roommate isn’t that bad, and the home cooked meals & laundry services aren’t a bad plus.