Mazel tov! You graduated college! That’s one step closer to becoming a functioning member of society. However, the real world is scary and maybe you’re not totally ready to be out on your own. What’s scarier though: living with your parents.
You were perfectly happy eating Easy Mac every night for dinner; your biggest accomplishment was staying out until 2 a.m. and still getting up for your 9 a.m. class; and no one harassed you about the mountains of clothes hiding your bedroom floor. Now you have to return to your childhood home.
In 2014, for the first time in over 130 years, 18-34 year olds were more likely to be living in their parents’ home than with a spouse or partner in their own household, according to Pew Research. See it’s trendy; all the cool kids are doing it.
If you’re still asking your dad how to do laundry after he showed you 50 times, maybe it’s time to fake it till you make it, and act like an adult. But if you’re already in the mindset of a grownup with goals, being independent will be easy. It might be hard not depending on your family when they are so accessible, but here’s how to stop relying on your parents while still living with them.
Pay for (most of) your expenses
News flash- things are expensive. The average rent for a studio apartment in New York City is $2,000-$3,000 a month. New York Licensed Clinical Social Worker Cindy Valk-Danish said you might not be financially prepared to rent your own apartment after college. But to assess how financially independent you can be Danish asks, “Are they paying rent to their parents? Contributing to the food budget? Utilities? Do they have a car they use? Health insurance? Who pays for the gas?”
Erica Bernstein -owner of Jewelerry- has been living with her family for three years. Bernstein returned to her home in Dix Hills, Long Island, because, “I work for myself, I travel a lot, and I save money by living home.” Bernstein’s jewelry business is successful, but doesn’t feel pressure to move out since she pays for almost everything herself. “All the money I spend is my money that I make from my business,” she said. “I pay for my car and car insurance, all of my medication, travels and clothing.”
Being financially independent from your parents shows maturity and growth. Twenty-three year-old social worker Maryssa Deliteris recently started making her own substantial money, allowing herself to pay for more things. “For my entire life I have financially relied on my parents,” she said. “Now that I have a full-time job, I have become more financially independent.” Deliteris set up her own bank account so she can manage finances and paychecks herself.
While you may live rent-free, paying for your own food, travel expenses, gas, medicines and car insurance to financially distance yourself from your parents.
Give yourself space
Wasn’t living with your family for your first 18 years enough? Well, it depends on every family, said Danish. “I think kids are more dependent these days on their parents. There’s a little bit more difficulty leaving the nest.”
Of course kids feel more comfortable living at home right after college; the security of being thrown a $20 bill for gas, not having to Facetime Dad every time you forget how to cook steak and the emotional support of family. Danish said, “Technology is like an electronic umbilical cord,” constantly giving kids access to their parents. “Helicopter moms” also deter kids from becoming self-reliant. Parents who hover enable, not giving their kids the chance to do things for themselves.
Catherine Lucey, New York mother of four, wants to treat her kids like the adults they are. Her two college graduates Sean and Sinead live home, but are barely around. “They’re both working, so they’re not home. Sinead’s only home for a few hours,” Lucey said.
Sinead Lucey has only been home for 10 months since graduating Binghamton University but already wants out. “It’s hard from being at school and living on your own for four years and transitioning back to living with your parents,” she said. “I try to go out more so I’m not home all the time with them.” When does she plan her escape? When she pays off her student debt, which for the average graduate is $30,000, according to The Institute for College Access and Success.
Although St. John’s University pharmacy student Gina Costante lives with her parents and three siblings, she has space. “I don’t always want them on top of me,” she said. “My parents know I have to work hard, so they respect that and they don’t bother me.” By staying in her room and studying on campus, Costante gets the space she would’ve had if she didn’t live home.
Have family discussions
To stop relying on your parents, tell them what you need from them, and ask what they expect from you. You’re basically an adult, or at least want to be treated like one, so you need to act like one.
Danish says young adults should define what they think being independent is and discuss that with their parents. “If you want to have a better relationship with them, what are their expectations and rules?” she said. There might be compromises on both parts, since they have to understand you’re more independent now.
For example, Lucey and her mother have discussed a plan for Sinead’s student debt; “Their job is to pay off student loans as soon as they can. We hope they can do it by the end of the year and then they can start to save up to move out.” Deliteris has a similar plan that she’s discussed with her family.
Having conversations about responsibilities is an important step toward independence. Bernstein, Deliteris, Lucey and Costante are expected to clean up after themselves, do laundry and let their parents know if they’ll be out late. That’s the roommate agreement.
Living With Your Parents Can Be Beneficial
Living at home should not be embarrassing. It honestly is the new norm and a smart plan. It’s like taking a mental health day to figure everything out, except for longer. Family emotional support, being financially self-reliant and figuring out what you want will help you become more independent.