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:
- It’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.