Living at home for a year can be a humbling, rewarding, exhausting, confusing, meaningful experience. It was never in my plans, but I’ve learned and gained so much from this year.
This post is for anyone who is considering making a change in their life and wants to weight out all the options. I’m breaking down why I moved home, why it was great, why it was challenging and some tips for how to make it work, if it’s something you’re considering.
Why I Lived With My Parents for a Year at Age 24
When I graduated from college, I had it all mapped out in my head. I was going to work (a lot), save money, move to the city, work some more, #livethedream… or something like that. I moved to NJ where I knew no one for a job I really loved. They moved me to Boston after 6 months and I was psyched because, you know, “the plan” was happening.
Life was perfect… on paper
But a year into the job I was miserable. On paper, life was going according to the plan… so why wasn’t I happy? I thought it was my job but, the fact was, the job was great. The company was innovative, gave me tons of freedom and I was doing what I loved. I even interviewed and got a couple job offers both in Boston and New York, but my gut said no.
It wasn’t the job, but rather I realized that I really didn’t want to be working for anyone else. It sounds weird and a little selfish (or at least that’s what I thought when I realized the truth.) When people asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to own a small business. I wanted to be my own boss. I didn’t know what it would be or why, but it was something I could never shake.
I went home to Nantucket for a week with my vacation days (because I was too broke to take a real vacation) and spent the week blogging. It was the most blissful, productive week of my life.
Then it clicked
I knew then, I wanted a change. I desperately wanted to run my blog as a business. I wasn’t close to making enough money to go full time, while paying Boston rents, so I felt stuck. There was also the liiiitle hitch that my company didn’t allow employees to have their own businesses on the side. So it was piss or get off the pot.
I hatched my plan
That September (2015) I hatched my genius plan. I would move home, find part time work at a coffee shop (also a gig I had always wanted) work on my blog, save my money, move to London (another pipe dream) and run my blog full time.
The plan worked… (kind of, now it’s actually better)
- That fall (2015) I sat on my plan and let it brew. I got a job as a barista and social media manager for a coffee shop on Nantucket and in late November I quit my first job.
- In January, I moved home and started working at Handlebar Cafe about 30-40 hours a week.
- This past spring I fell in love.
- Over the summer I burned out and rebranded.
- This fall I booked my tickets to London, but instead of a one way I booked a return in May. My original plan was to save enough money for 3 months living expenses while I got on my feet, but instead I’m making it a 4 month trip. I’m coming back to Nantucket… because you know, love and all that good stuff.
- I’m flying to England next week. I’m scared, excited and nervous. Luckily I’ll be crashing with my dad for 2 weeks (he lives in the countryside) but then I’m off to the big city.
The Good, the Bad & How to Make it Work
1. The opportunity to Save a lot of money
Even with a decent starting salary, every month I felt like I was barely making it, when I lived in Boston. If I was absolutely perfect with my spending I could maybe put away $500 a month. But shit happens (replacing both side mirrors on your car after snowmagedon) and it was close to impossible to be perfect with my spending. Being able to live at home gave me the ability to save enough money to live in London without a source of income for 4 months.
2. Spending time with your parents as adults
An added benefit of living at home is the quality time you can spend with your parents as an adult. I love my mom so much and it’s been wonderful seeing her every day. Even after I move out, I’m really looking forward to continuing to build my adult mother daughter relationship.
1. The biggest hit will be your pride.
I am stubborn, independent and like doing things in my own way. For me, living at home was an amazing opportunity to help me pursue my dreams, but I worried for way too long about what it would look like to other people. I saw teachers and friends and parents I hadn’t seen in years when I moved home. Explaining your story to people isn’t always easy when it’s not the norm.
Seriously, try telling your grandmother that you quit your stable job in Boston to live at home and blog on the side while you work at a coffee shop. Actually, my whole family is insanely supportive so I was pretty lucky. But not everyone will get it, and that’s ok too.
2. You have to share stuff again
Sure it can be stressful when shit breaks and you don’t know how to fix it, but living on your own is amazing. Going home meant sharing. For some reason, I struggled a lot pitching in with family chores, even when, on my own, it was never an issue. I felt like I reverted back to teenager behavoir some days (and I’m sure my mom would agree.)
There were days when I would make a mess in the kitchen and just want to clean it on my own time, but I knew I wasn’t my space to do that. Sometimes I’d rise to the challenge, other days I’d be a little shit…. sorry mom.
Oh and I desperately miss having my own fridge. Silly as it sounds, I just miss doing all the grocery shopping for myself.
3. You’ll feel unsettled
This entire year has felt like a series of transitions. I’ve felt a little like a guest for an entire year. I’m tired of moving (but I know that won’t stop). But it’s a small price to pay in the long run.
How to Make it Work
Know your family
This is the number one thing if you want to move home. You have to be honest. Is this really going to work for you and your family? I’m so beyond fortunate that I could have this experience but I know it’s absolutely not for everyone. If you don’t have a good relationship or the timing isn’t right, don’t try to force something that could damage your relationships. There might be someone else in your family or friend network that could help you out in this way. They key is to know yourself, your family and OVER communicate.
Set a timeline
Moving home indefinitely is a recipe for disaster. When you don’t have a departure date you’ll never feel ready. Ok, sure my original departure was supposed to be October, but I still knew that I wouldn’t be here longer than 2016.
Pay some kind of rent
I only payed $200 for fridge access and utilities per month, but I think paying was really important. It makes you feel more empowered and less like you’re mooching off your family.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
Despite being a communications major, I still struggle with any kind of confrontation or potentially awkward conversation. But this year has taught me that getting the tough stuff out first, saves you SO much angst in the long run. Have the tough conversations with your family in the beginning about potential problems that could arise, how you’ll keep the communication lines open, how you’ll resolve conflicts (because they happen to everyone.)
- Have you ever lived at home as an adult?
- What’s your favorite part of living alone?