Should You Move Out? Pros and Cons of Living with Family

We get a lot of readers asking if they have the budget to move out of their parents’ (or other relatives) house. It makes sense: who doesn’t want to be living a fully independent lifestyle? In terms of sheer finances, we’ve covered topics from budgeting for rent to the cost of utilities to how much apartment you can afford on a given salary. But we haven’t covered one of the most basic questions in quite some time: regardless of whether you can technically afford it, is it a good idea to move out?

There are both benefits and problems to living with relatives. First, the benefits:

  • HomeSweetHomeIt’s cheaper to live with your folks. Even if your folks are charging you a little bit in rent, and you’re chipping in for food, you’re still probably paying way, way less money to live at home. And if your parents are kind enough to let you stay with them without paying rent? Well. Even if you could afford to live on your own, it might be a good idea to stay at home for the time being, provided you have a plan. What does this mean? Let’s say you’re saving for grad school, or you have an interest in a career that requires you to take low-paying (or unpaid) internships to get a foothold. You and your parents might agree that your banking money for a larger future goal is worth your living at home now. It might feel a bit claustrophobic for the time being, but in five years after you’re well-launched on your career, you’ll probably be glad you did it.
  • There can be moral support at home. Some people get along with their parents … and they like that there are several people at home to pitch in with chores, that there’s a real family, someone to talk to. Nothing beats the comfort and familiarity of home. If you love your family and enjoy living with them (and your parents feel the same), don’t feel societal pressure to move out just because you’re getting older. In many cultures, adults with professional jobs still live at home. If it works, it works.
  • A chance to relate to your parents in a new way. Just because you’re living at home doesn’t mean you’re not an adult. If you successfully set boundaries (your parents should no longer worry about how late you stay out, or who your friends are, for example), you can live with and learn about your family from a different perspective. Many people find this rewarding.

Now, of course, all these reasons to stay presume that you and your parents get along and that you’re comfortable living with them. What are some of the reasons you might want to move out?

  • You’re feeling stifled. Even if you love your parents, and you get along, sometimes living at home can be a little bit too easy. You have too many dinners made for you, you feel little motivation to seek new experiences, and you feel yourself losing touch with your friends. Sometimes, to grow as a person, you need to go it alone – even if it’s the tougher choice. If you find yourself staying in and watching movies too much, and not worrying about a career, since you barely have to earn anything to make ends meet, this likely describes you.
  • Space, finances and your folks’ wishes. You might want to live at home, but that doesn’t mean your parents want you there. Maybe they can’t afford keeping you on, they’re looking to sell their place and downgrade, or they just want to have their house to themselves. If this is the case, you should look to move out as soon as feasible. Remember that your parents are no longer under any obligation to house you.
  • You don’t get along with your folks. If you’re constantly fighting, or your folks are emotionally manipulative, or if you just can’t seem to break out of the parent-child relationship at all, it’s time to move out. Things may get better – but probably not until you change your situation.

All told, living at home doesn’t have to be a purgatory. If you have a plan for the future that benefits from your living at home – or if you and your parents have a clearly defined relationship that allows you to grow and that both parties are comfortable with, you should consider staying at home. That said, if living at home full-time feels like an unwelcome pit-stop, you need to either change your relationship with your parents, save up to move out – or both.

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Alex has rented in Minneapolis, Queens, Brooklyn, and now Chicago. He can kill rodents and roaches when required, and loves picture-hanging projects. If you're ever in town, give him a shout.

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Comments (6)

  1. Avatar Joel

    I’m only 16 (In Canada I can move out with parental consent) and I’m definitely stifled, and I’m not mentally healthy but when I’m at home I feel ill but when I’m at my boyfriends apartment I feel like I can actually take on the world. And yes I would be moving in with my boyfriend, we have been together for 9 months and while this may seem recless of me I can see how my home is not healthy for me. I love my family but I need to get away from them to learn how to actually function as a human with consequences for my actions, having to fight for my life.

    One of my main reasons why I need to leave is my schooling is going down the drain… It has been slowly for awhile, at home I cannot concentrate on homework or anything. And my emotions carry to school I’m close to breaking but I want to break by myself rather than having someone put the bandaid on me and kissing away the pain for it to just to be hidden from sight when it’s still there hurting me.

    Thank you for reading in essence all I wanted from this is if you think I can do it, because I think I can. I don’t want to become like my father and that’s what I’m becoming because of my mom… I can do it!

    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Joel,
      Because you are a minor, we cannot give you any budget advice. Just think very hard before you move away from home while you are still in high school. You’ll have plenty of time to stress about rent payments and putting food on the table later in life. Good luck!

  2. Avatar Dawn

    Thanks for another great article!

    I started college kind of late, so I’ll be getting my bachelor’s degree when I’m 25 if everything goes according to plan. In the meantime, I’ve been debating whether or not I should leave home. This article just made my decision a lot easier. Thanks again.

  3. Avatar Jessica


    You guys always seem to post an article when I need it the most!

    I am 28 years old and putting myself through grad-school. My boyfriend and I currently live in an extremely expensive town house. I love it more than words can say. It is my sanctuary. My happy place.

    But it requires me to work full time whist attending school. And that’s just not working.

    His parents offered to let us move in rent-free. It is our only choice. Even though the thought of it saddens me and we will go from having tons of space to virtually none, I am grateful for the opportunity and will embrace it.

    Thanks for this article. It helped me put some perspective on this situation!

    • Alex Alex

      Hi Jessica,

      Thanks for the kind comment; we’re happy to help you think through these issues. Best of luck!