And what a doosy it is! On one hand, free rent, free electricity, free food! On the other, free phone calls at midnight asking you where you are, who you’re with, and when you plan on returning to the cradle. It may shock you, (or perhaps validate you), but more than ever, young 20-somethings are choosing to live at home. According to Monster Trak,
* 48% of 2006 college grads moved back home after graduation
* 44% of 2005 grads moved back home, too, and are still there
* 1/3 of all college grads under 24 live with their parents.
Those are substantial figures. And, most importantly, nothing to be ashamed of; making ends meet is harder today than it’s ever been. Karen Burns, a blogger I like, recently referenced a Seattle Times’ January study of incomes and inflation, finding some hard facts:
“Inflation-adjusted earnings for young men with high school degrees were $42,630 in 1972; In 2002, they were $29,647.
* Inflation-adjusted earnings for young men with college degrees were $52,087 in 1972 and $48,955 in 2002.”
Your grandfather may have walked to school in the snow for 10 miles because cars weren’t ‘invented’ yet, but he could afford to buy a house by his 30’s, something that many in our generation will only dream of. In the Move or Not debate, there are really only two factors to consider: Social Life/Sanity vs. Economics. Like any decision, you need to decide what is most important to you. If you can stand to live at home for a few months, that’s a nice nest egg should you decide you want to go to Europe in the spring or be able to fix your car when the alternator breaks. And, there’s nothing wrong postponing that big move, as evidenced by the statistics.
But, wait, you say, I feel trapped and hopeless about ever moving out. Answer? To keep your hopes up, set a dollar amount that you are saving towards. Make it something reasonable and attainable within a year. In a way, it feels like paying off credit card debt, no? Saving now for a better life later? Setting goals is super important though for one’s mental state, as that way, you’ll feel like you’re progressing towards something–adulthood–a life of urban delinquency–whatever you wish to call it, instead of reverting back to the place you lived in while 16 and drooling over JTT. Or, you know, Pam Anderson.
Obviously, you readers are familiar with the internet–you’re reading this column–but participating in a discussion with others in your situation could really improve moral. Truth be told, I lived at home for 5 months after returning from teaching abroad last year and felt isolated for most of that time; the internet would beg to differ with such feelings of abandonment. One discussion I found on the Web, from December, is here. If you decide to live a home, you’re doing something really economically smart right now and you should feel darn good about it. I mean, $600 rent X 12, plus electric, plus cable, plus heat–you could take that money to Vegas if you wanted to–you have that choice. In fact, you have many a choice: don’t let your parents let you forget it.
And, when you feel economically secure, we have plenty a tip and a checklist to get you started.