Are parents the new housemates?

I am one of the graduates in today’s economy that is living a life of uncertainty. After graduation I took the option to go travelling – an option many young people are advised to do in the hope of returning to a more stable economy (though I’d suggest going for considerably longer than I did to stand a chance of this working out). Instead, I found myself faced with a double-dip recession and being among the many young people that are forced into thinking it may be some time before their post-university lives can really start.* I gave up a rented house for my time abroad and moved back in with my parents after five years away from home, strictly on a temporary basis.

Now, including the time I was away, it has been almost eight months of that temporary basis, and the creeping feeling that something needs to change soon is constantly on my mind. It’s not that living at home is a bad thing, it is fairly comfortable most of the time, but that is no reason to stay in the same situation, paying for it with independence rather than rent for longer than necessary.

But what options do graduates really have in the current economical state of living? I could stay at home on a longer basis and become one of the people that others look at and think ‘living off mum and dad’, or I could move out. There’s edging back towards student life and opting for a house share with others (hopefully) in a similar position, or taking the plunge and renting solo for a life of meals for one and an increasing number of cats for company.

Of course, the real challenge is paying for either of these options. I am one of the fortunate few to be earning an income at the moment, and especially lucky to be working in my chosen sector, but as is the case with these few and far between cases, my contract is temporary and could see me looking at an empty bank account again come September. On the other hand, I could be working on temporary contracts for the next five, or even ten years, and staying at home until that time is not on my list of things to do.

The life of a graduate is the life of someone living in the in between. No longer a student, they don’t want undergraduates with their mid-week party lifestyle as housemates, nor is living alone a realistic option. Many are too young to have reached the stage of settling down with someone else, and finding friends looking for the same thing as yourself would be like waiting for a bus – you could quite literally be waiting forever if you’re not in the right spot.

The word ‘temporary’ fits the description of most aspects of life at the moment – living situations, job contracts and how long we wish to spend in the same city. Not many graduates will be doing the same thing in the same place in twelve month’s time, and it would be incredibly easy to play the safe option and stay at home, slowly waiting for the economy to rectify itself. But with an end date to global financial insecurity being anyone’s guess, do we sit and wait, or take the risk and start our lives anyway? Answers on a postcard please.

*I still recommend travelling after university to everyone, no matter how long for. It is CV worthy and guaranteed to be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.

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2 thoughts on “Are parents the new housemates?

  1. Don’t worry too much about living back with your parents. I did it aged 28, on deciding to do my Master’s, and I was there for a year – no more. Then I came back again last summer, aged 35, this time with my husband and toddler in tow, while we renovated a house. It takes some getting used to but there are many perks and as long as you establish from the beginning that you are no longer the 18 year old who left home to go to Uni, you should be fine. You just have to remember not to regress to teenager tactics when things get a bit heated because you’ve been in the shower too long or have left the lights on. Even at 35, the teenager lurks very close to the surface, I promise! And so do parental expectations. If you can save up a bit of cash by staying with your parents, and use it as an opportunity to gain valuable experience and to really go for it in terms of networking, you have nothing to lose. As for living alone, I did that too for a while, in London. No cats joined me – only new friends. I had a lot of fun. Friends who opted for the house share route have ended up 35 and still sharing a house – because maybe it gets harder to be by yourself, the longer you’re with others. Make the most of your 20s anyway – especially if you’re working in the media/PR/ industry. Good luck. Just go for it!

  2. I am definitely living with the ‘just go for it’ philosophy now. As I say in my post, being at home is alright, but I can’t get too comfortable and never leave. It could be a financial risk but at the same time everyone like yourself who has mentioned house sharing talks about how much they get out of it. It’s something I’m starting to look at now, so hopefully it won’t be long before I get my independence back!

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