A 30-year-old man living in his parents’ basement who doesn’t have a job and plays video games all day? Seems like the ultimate example of the word “pathetic,” and perhaps it is. But this stereotype doesn’t apply to every person who lives with their parents.
There’s a perception that living on your own is the zenith of adulthood, independence and responsibility. If you’re not out by the time you’ve finished college, you might as well get back in your crib and call it a day.
But judging people for living at home isn’t fair, and doesn’t reflect the fact that living at home is a perfectly adult and independent decision, especially in today’s world. Whether young people choose to live at home for cultural reasons, financial reasons, logistical reasons, or just because they like living with their family, it’s their decision and doesn’t necessarily make them any less mature than those who choose to get their own place.
According to an article published by the Pew Research Center in May 2016, it’s now more common for young people ages 18-36 to live with their parents than to live with a spouse, on their own, or in any other living arrangement. The reason? Pew Research Center attributes the numbers, which haven’t been so high in 130 years, to the drop in young people who choose to get married or settle down with a partner before they turn 35. Other factors the study points out are decreasing wages, increasing college enrollment and economic recession.
The decision to move out is an adult one, but the decision to continue to live at home can also be an adult decision. When figuring out whether to move out and get a job or live at home to afford graduate school tuition, staying at home may be the most mature choice. When choosing between getting an apartment or living at home to take care of a sick parent or sibling, staying home might be the most responsible choice. And even if there are no financial or familial benefits, some young adults may just prefer living with their family, often compensating them financially, to living with strangers. Every family’s arrangement is different.
The increasing number of young people who live with their parents can even be viewed as a positive thing. It could mean that young people are feeling less pressured to get married just to get out of the house, or are focusing on bettering themselves through education, or are thinking through their financial situation instead of jumping into a lease or mortgage.
It’s hard to look at someone over 30 who lives with their parents and call them truly mature and independent. Doubtless, there are plenty of lazy people who take advantage of their parents’ generosity and space, but there are lots of good reasons to live at home past what society may consider to be an acceptable age.