Twentysomethings Living at Home Are Destroying the Economy!!!

According to the New York Times, I’m partially to blame for the failing economy. You see, like 14.2 percent of young adults, I live with my parents. I moved back home after I graduated five months ago and I don’t plan on leaving until next summer.

If you’ll believe Catherine Rampell, I’m depriving the economy of $145,000 by living here. If I moved out, I’d be buying Pöalågnar frying pans at IKEA, banging my head against the wall while I wait for Mr. Comcast to show up between 9am and 7pm, and hiring “a handyman to hang a newly framed diploma.”

Let’s gloss over that fact that anyone who needs a handyman to hang a frame has more basic issues on their plate than stunting economic growth and talk about the real costs of living at home. It might be true that moving out and spending money benefits the economy, but where’s that money supposed to come from? With only 74 percent of 25-34-year-olds currently employed and the average graduate carrying over $25,000 in student loan debt, it’s no longer clear what the responsible choice should be.

Rampell did an exceptional job of finding two people, Jay Bouvier and Hollis Romanelli, who are unlike to garner any sympathy. Both have full time jobs–Bouvier makes $45,000 a year after taxes — and neither pay their parents rent. Romanelli even admits that she’s spent her first 2 months worth of paychecks treating herself. Rampell all but paints a picture of selfishness — Romanelli is guilty of indulging when so many are un- or underemployed and Bouvier saves his money when he could be out buying houses and helping “the economy.”

Am I wrong to think that the economy is a means and not an end? There’s always more to an issue than just money. In order to better understand what’s going on, I’ve compiled a pros and cons list for those of you considering moving back home.

Top 5 reasons living with your parents is irresponsible:

5: You’re hurting the economy by living in your old bedroom. (See above)
4: You’re missing out on character-building rites of passage like cockroaches and park bench masturbators*.
3: You can’t develop real relationships with friends or significant others due to lurking parents.
2: You’re putting financial strain on your parents who once again have to feed and shelter you.
1: You’re not taking on responsibilities like a Real Adult® and will never properly learn how to pay rent, take out the trash, and shovel your stoop when it snows.*

Top 5 reasons living with your parents is responsible:

5: Remember how much people like to talk about how 20-something are all capricious nincompoops who have no sense of self-control, no plans for the future, and no moral fiber? By living at home, you can learn all about budgeting and credit scores at the dinner table, overhear FOX News playing on the TV downstairs, and never ever have sex ever. It’s like a conservative’s dream world.
4: Do you really need to live on your own? If roommates are out of the question and your only options are living with your family and living by yourself, your family could be the better option. Environmentalists will thank you for keeping plastics production, waste, and energy usage down.
3: Do you know where college students and recent college graduates tend to live? I will tell you: in poor neighborhoods. If you’re in college, you know that you’ll only be living there for 4 years max. Which means that you probably won’t get involved with your community or care if you keep your neighbors up until 4 a.m. with your frat party. If you’re a graduate, you’ll probably be moving away when you can afford it and are similar to undergraduates in terms of how you see your ‘hood. Treating neighborhoods as disposable isn’t helpful for people who will live there for many years or their whole lives. Clearly not everyone does this, but if you’ve ever looked at the amount of trash on the streets in university off-campus housing you’ll know that there are enough people who do to make it a problem. By living at home, you help keep neighborhoods neighborhoody.
2: Two words: mental health. Have you ever tried finding a therapist? It’s really effing hard work. Having people (or dogs) who care about you around can make it easier to get through really bad days. They might even help you look for a therapist. On the other side of the coin, if you find you’re losing the motivation you once had, going home can be a refresher course on all the reasons you wanted to leave Ohio/wherever in the first place and get you back on track.
1: I bet your grandparents are lonely. I bet your parents need help cleaning out the basement. I bet your little brother needs to be picked up from school. Living at home can be fantastic because you can help people and they can hug you.

So. This may be a slightly skewed list, but we home-livers get a bad rap. We all make choices that work for us. Some of us move home because we’re not sure where to go next. Some don’t have the option to go back because it’s no longer a home for us. I chose to move home because I needed a place to make decisions, my family needed my help, and I needed reminder that I wasn’t alone. It’s about more than just money. What works for me probably doesn’t work for you and that doesn’t automatically make any of us less responsible for our lives or more responsible for the economic crisis. When I move out next year, I know I’ll be ready, I’ll be thankful, and I won’t be back.**

Who do you live with? Where do you live? Do Europeans really think we’re crazy for moving out before we can really afford it?

*Been there, done that, character built.

**Except to visit, obviously.

Feature photo via: New York Magazine

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Laura is a tiny girl who wishes she were a superhero. She likes talking to her grandma on the phone and making things with her hands. Strengths include an impressive knowledge of Harry Potter, the ability to apply sociology to everything under the sun, and a knack for haggling for groceries in Spanish. Weaknesses: Chick-fil-a, her triceps, girls in glasses, and the subjunctive mood. Follow the vagabond adventures of Laura and her bike on twitter [@laurrrrita].

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92 Comments

  1. Thumb up 0

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    My life. 2011.

    I moved home because I got the shit end of the break up stick and didn’t want to get even more life sucked out of me by over-paying for rent, electricity, water, gas, etc by living on my own. I still hold a full time job, a college degree, and more intelligence and drive to be an autonomous human being than most of the capitalist fucks that find their happiness in exploiting others to get ahead.

    And I’m SO SICK of being told I need to make “something” of myself by the time I’m 25. I remember on my graduation day (from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences) my grandmother said, “I don’t know what all of these people are going to do with these USELESS degrees!”. How hard it is to succeed when you’re constantly lambasted for even making an attempt.

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    Britain isn’t really Europe in the sense you’re asking, but most people I know have moved away from home as soon as possible, accepting the less-than-desirable conditions because they needed privacy or freedom or however you want to characterise it.

    At the moment I flit back and forth between my boyfriend’s apartment and my mum’s house. I pay half of the rent when I’m with my boyfriend, and a small contribution when I’m not, and I only pay a contribution to bills when I’m at my mum’s house, because she owns it outright. I’m in a weird nationality situation (my mum is in FL, my boyfriend in England), so I’m by no means typical, but I just got a job in FL and could definitely not afford to move out on what I’m making. When I’m in England I get money from long-overdue child support which is the only reason I can afford to live anywhere.

    I have a degree and plans for grad school, but my job is not full-time (or skilled), and it’s only seasonal. My last job was almost full-time but it was an internship that ended. I feel like this is what people mean when they say underemployment, and it’s stupid.

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      It’ kinda funny that I’ve never met somebody from the uk who would refer to themself as a european….
      its like you all pretend you’re in the middle of the atlantic all by yourself … and not just 30 km away from the european coast:)

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          I’m not with you on that comparison. Europe is a continent; not a country like mexico or the US. And the European Union is political/economical union consisting out of 27 independent countries and 27 independent cultures. You are welcome to join (actually the UK already joined) !:)

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            Mexico and the US are on the same continent yet have very different cultures, that was the basis of my analogy.

            The EU is economical and political, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. Obviously I’m not arguing I’m not part of the EU, albeit in a more limited sense than those with the shared currency. I’m saying when people ask about attitudes to social issues I don’t consider myself in the group that they address as “Europeans”. I acknowledge that the EU consists of different cultures but I just don’t feel a part of the wider group. I know we are isolationist and often I think there’s no good reason for it, but it has influenced how I identify whether I like it or not.

            I hope you don’t take it as snobbery that we tend to feel this way. I think it happens a lot when a country is part of a group and doesn’t feel represented or integrated. I identify as English rather than British, and if you called a Scottish or Welsh person British they’d probably correct you. Obviously as an English person I’m more represented in British government than either of those people but I don’t think there is a unified identity.

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            okay, lets agree to disagree. I’ve just never been big on national identities and patriotism (might be a german thing).YOU DO YOU.

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            also yes to the scottish/welsh thing.
            I got told of by a welsh guy once when referring to him as british. it didn’t sound very nice what he had to say at least the half I actually was able to understand.

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            It depends on the non English Brit in question, some of them are OK with being called British and when you get mongrels like me its the only moniker that’s actually truthful. My parents both consider themselves European, which on my English dad’s part is due to a consciour rejection of mainstream English culture.

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            YES. I’m from Canada and when people overseas just lumps Canada in with the US… um. No.

            It’s not that I dislike Americans. Just, no.

  3. Thumb up 0

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    Personally, I love living at home. I get along with my family really well and also I’m kind of unemployed right now so it all works out!

    I do a crapton of chores though, and cart my sister around town, and cook dinner some nights among other things. As soon as I get a steady job and save enough money for a safety net I’m moving out, but I know that I’ll be back to visit a ton. Strong family bond, or something.

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      Same here to most of what you said. Almost every time I tell someone I’m living at home I get this big dramatic sympathetic/horrified look from them like I must be going insane living here. I actually get along with my parents, but feel weird saying that to a lot of people.

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        Aw, that’s so nice! I love hearing about people who get along so well with their parents. :) I endure mine and couldn’t wait to leave home. Not because they’re terrible people or anything – they’re not. They just drive me nuts.

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    No, europeans are just fucking impressed that there are people putting up with $25,000+ in student loans.kudos!

    also I’m a big fan on moving out before actually being able to afford it!
    also also good thing about the welfare state I’m living in is the fact that you get up to 1000$ monthly just for going to university. YAY socialism/marxism/communism or whateff the republican party likes to hold against us germans/europeans.

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    I live by myself in a one bedroom apartment. Though I was one of the ones who moved out on their own, I can understand why people would want to live with parents. Living on your own is effing expensive. I thank some deity that I am employed.

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    I moved back home this year to finish up law school and hopefully keep my student loans from growing to monstrous proportions…it’s mildly depressing but at least I dont have to worry about those damn “character builders” anymore!

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    Lul wut is this Rampell lady even talking about. If you don’t have $145,000 to spend, then you aren’t exactly depriving the economy by not spending it.

    Aside from that obvious point, she’s oversimplifying a lot in that article – the woman who lives at home and blows her paychecks on consumer goods is still injecting money into the economy. The guy who saves it all away to buy a house he can first live in is probably going to ‘contribute’ more economically in the long term than someone who can’t buy or invest because all their income is going on rent.

    Also, maybe I’m going too far here, but did she really have to show us a woman who buys luxury items when she should be saving and a financially responsible man? Like it’s just a bit toooooo stereotypical to be a completely random sampling of all the ‘boomerang’ children out there.

    Her whole article really bothers me… it’s like she thinks there’s a moral imperative on young people to make financially irresponsible choices in the name of economic growth.

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      You’re definitely right. No one owes a prospective landlord rent money! You don’t owe people who are financially better off anything just because tey are financially better off! That’s how you get lower taxes for rich people and other stupid institutions.

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      When we were kids, my mum advised me and my sisters to blow our very first paycheque on something we’d always wanted, and then commit rigidly to saving responsibly. It didn’t work out quite that way for me, since I’d already left my parent’s home by the time I got my first paycheque, but I still think it’s fantastic advice.

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        Ha, how funny, my mum gave me the same advice! And, like you, I couldn’t follow it when I first started working because I’d already left home and had to be careful with money.

        When I graduated from university about six years later I was more financially comfortable… so to celebrate the fact I’d survived my studies and assorted personal tragedies, I spent a whole paycheck on something I really loved but didn’t need. At time I couldn’t believe how indulgent I was being, but now I’m really glad I did it.

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    What a ridiculous claim!

    First of all, living on your own does not automatically equate to being responsible. There are plenty of twentysomethings (and thirtysomethings, for that matter) who live alone, basically in a pit of filth, and yeah, never shovel their sidewalks, and are – gasp! – irresponsible despite being able to (barely) make their rent. Which really isn’t hard at all even if you work a job that pays minimum wage.

    Second, living at home can help you save up enough money over a period of time to put towards buying your own place… and if that isn’t “stimulating the economy”, I don’t know what is. Especially in big cities, where renting a bachelor can mean at least $800-900/month (at least here in Toronto), you could save up enough for a down payment on a small one-bedroom downtown if you lived at home for two and a half to three years. Whereas trying to save up to buy a place while renting can end up taking many, many years more.

    Third, as already pointed out in this AS article, living at home provides you with more emotional support. Living alone, in contrast, can be depressing and a huge strain on your life since you are solely responsible for: doing all the cleaning/laundry, maintenance/repairs, paying electricity/hydro/gas for an entire apartment (two people living in the same space would not pay that much more)… the list goes on. Sure, your parents may be snoopers and not everybody can put up with that (hence why some people move out), but if that is a reasonable trade-off for being able to do #2, then why the hell not?

    Fourth — and this is related to #1 — there are other ways to build character / becoming a “real adult” (that is a process, not a destination!) other than living alone. This NYT writer sure did a good job of finding the biggest twentysomething parasites, and I’m sure there are many out there, but there are just as many people who live with their parents still but are completely independent in every other way in terms of doing taxes, paying their own bills, transportation, etc.

    Fifth, this whole notion of “building character” through living alone in a shitty apartment/neighbourhood and living on weak tea and white bread is horribly outdated if not simply untrue. “Building character” this way sounds all brave and admirable until you realize that it is fucking awful having to work all the time, then having half your paycheck go towards rent, the other half towards groceries and other necessities, and not have any money left to enjoy your life (within reason). That is not the definition of “becoming a real adult”; it’s more like taking the high road to a mental breakdown.

    Lastly, this lady just needs to grow a heart. Really.

    And for the record, I am a 21 year old recent university graduate and do *not* live at home (and who knows, maybe I would be right now if not for the fact that my parents live on another continent). But I know a lot of people who do and for various reasons, all valid.

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      Dagensfisk – are you a Swede or a Dane by any chance??

      Also, I agree with everything you said. I especially agree with you about the twentysomethings who live alone, basically in a pit of filth, and never shovel their sidewalks – in fact, I am one of them :P

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        haha, I’m not — I live in Canada (Toronto). I just happen to like/travel a lot in Scandinavia and stole my username off a seafood restaurant when I was in Copenhagen this June :-)

        Well hey, admitting it is the first step… ;-) And for that matter I was one of them too… until I got roommates who implemented a cleaning schedule, and I follow it if only because I’m afraid of getting murdered by my housemates who have… um… a lower tolerance for dust. :-P

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    I moved into my own apartment in NYC when I was 23 (just over 2 years ago) and I was the first of any of my friends to do so. Want to know how I did it? I didn’t finish college and I’ve been working non-stop since I was 15. I went back to school this semester because I’m trying to get my (probably useless) degree and I’m still working full time to afford said apartment which is overpriced and in a shitty neighborhood. Going to school and working full time is super fucking stressful to say the least. I’m convinced for every week I keep this up, I’m shaving like 6 months off of my lifespan. Sometimes I wish I could move back in with my mom which is definitely NOT an option for me.

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    I’m Irish and I’m always shocked to hear about americans moving out at 18 and onwards. Here most people are at home well into their twenties because its so insanely expensive to live here (food/utilities etc all above the european average) and as well as that there is literally no legal protections for renters. Also, you nearly need a degree to work in a shop these days. I’d kill to move out, but its not going to be feasible for a very long time. :(

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    i think was a somewhat unfair summation of the nyt article. like, i don’t think the writer was shaking her finger being like, kids should move out. she was just illustrating a phenomenon.

    now, i lived with my parents post-lawschool(graduated 2010) while i was working under a public interest fellowship. i did ultimately get a full time position and move out, but only because the job was far away.

    i am really lonely living alone but not sure there are many other weirdos i’d be happy living with. i would have continued to live with my parents for financial reasons but distance made it impossible.

    so i don’t think there is anything wrong with living with parents.

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    I like how she acknowledges that the reason most of them haven’t moved out is the economy but fails to make the obvious connection that what this means is most of them are either unemployed or can’t afford to move out. Instead she found a pair of people (nice scientific sample size by the way) who earned fairly high salaries for recent graduates and presented them like this was typical. Then she went on about how we owe people like landlords our money and I am sorry but no, no one owes it to any service provider to use their service.

    Saving and buying a house, particularly a fixer upper like the guy in question wants, brings money into the economy. It just happens later. Also owning a house (as he seems to intend to buy outright) provides financial security of a certain kind that means that you are actually freer to spend more money even when the economy is ailing because you aren’t hoarding it in case you become unemployed and have to make rent while looking for a new job. Its a long term investment that will work out better for the economy. A cheap fix now won’t help in the long run.

    As far as moving out goes, if my mother and I could be around each other without fighting for longer than half an hour I wouldn’t mind moving back in with my family. I would live with my grandparents any time (and they did most of the raising of me so it would be like moving in with my parents for other people). The only reason I don’t have to? My parents bought me a flat and I get an allowance. I am a brat. How does this make me more responsible than someone whose parents did not pay for everything because they couldn’t afford it? Privelige does not make you a grown up, and my being unemployed does not contribute to tbhe economy. (would get job if I could, am not that spoiled)

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    YES YES to moving back home and getting reminded of why you wanted to get away in the first place. Also yes to no sex or relationships with parents constantly hovering in the background and basically no privacy ever unless I’m in a coffeehouse alone. Yay.

    But the end is coming! I’m applying to grad schools right now and this time next year I will be in San Francisco, Seattle, or London, and on my own again. Yay for reals! The only thing I will miss is my hairdresser. Also free meals. Hugs are nice too. BUT FREEDOM! I cannot wait.

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    I felt really strange about living with my parents until I realized my next door neighbors are two women in their thirties still living with their mother, a guy across the street is someone I graduated with and he’s living at home, and there are three other young adults in my neighborhood living at home. These are tough times, guys.

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    I live alone, but pretty sure I’m not contributing to the economy anymore than I was than when I was at home. I probably contributed more at home, because I used money to buy any and everything. Now I’m constantly saving as much as can only buying the necesities.
    As far as responsibilities, I think it depends on the person not where they live.

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    I moved out at sixteen when the economy was happy and student loans were abundant and easy to obtain. I moved back in at 20 with a shitty economy and a fuckton of student loans.

    I’m currently in Europe working, in a country where most of the 20/21 year olds are sophomores in university, and almost everyone lives at home. Those that live in dorms go home for the weekends without fail. Its incredibly different and I can’t help think better- their schooling is free, their meals are heavily subsidized, everyone had nice teeth because they get dental care. I sort of want to become a citizen and stay.

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    if you can’t figure out how to hang a diploma, maybe you shouldn’t have received said diploma in the first place…

    also if Ms. Rampell can’t figure out why so many 20-somethings are living at home, maybe she shouldn’t be writing for the NYT. IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID.

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    how appropriate…. on October 31st I had to make the heart wrenching self-esteem destroying decision to leave school and move back home. After a doctors appointment I went on medical leave in order to attend treatment for an eating disorder. I’m out of school until September and had to quit my job to attend treatment, meaning that when I get out I will be at home, with no job, and nothing that I can do about it.

    My 4 year degree is now going to take me 5.5 and as I catch up with my high school friends who are starting their capstones, internships, and prepping for life after college, I can’t help but feel like I failed somehow. This isn’t the american dream, or how my carefully planned life was supposed to go, but maybe we need to redefine success.

    As one of my professors so aptly put it when I explained to her the situation, “How much does being a nurse mean to you? Would you rather take the year and graduate late, or never get to see your degree”

    I’ll take it. Even if I do have to move home. And go back on the chore rotation. And give up my social life, job and apartment. And not have sex or even watch porn safely for the foreseeable future….

    Oh g-d….what have I gotten myself into….

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      *hugs*

      I’m in a similar boat right now. I took medical leave for the rest of the semester because of a physical illness (pneumonia) that triggered the anxiety and depression I’ve been battling for years. I’ve been in and out of school for mental health reasons since 8th grade. I just want to let you know that you’re not alone, and you haven’t failed. You are just focusing on what’s important right now. Good luck and more hugs.

      Robin

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        @Allegra and Robin

        I’ve been there too, due to a chronic health problem, and I just wanted to share what I’ve discovered:

        Life happens. Sometimes life gets in the way of goals. It’s OK. Life is long: we don’t have to cram all our learning into a few short years, or meet our goals within the same timescale as ‘everybody else’.

        You haven’t failed. Everyone doesn’t get dealt the same hand in life. We can only play the hand we have, and that’s OK. You have advantages that those who have been able to stay on don’t have, even if it’s only more compassion for those in a similar situation.

        Try to see the free time you have as a bonus. You now have time to write a novel / poetry / a diary, to make art, read loads of novels, watch films, research something interesting, game, dream etc. Every minute doesn’t have to be productive, and you don’t need to feel guilty if it isn’t.

        Take the time you need to heal properly. You don’t want to end up back at square one just because you over-pressured yourself. A year or two is not a life-sentence, just an event in your life. I promise.

        ((hugs))

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          Beautifully said, Megaera. It took me seven years to get my bachelors because I kept changing my major/minor/had minor medical issues/etc.

          There is no one recipe for success (and no one kind of success).

          In the end, this is YOUR path, and you WILL learn from this. Own it, embrace it and accept it as a part of who you are. Maybe this will allow you to thrive in what it is that YOU are all about.

          I never really understood this when I was younger and talked to older people. They had to move to other cities to find work, they had babies while still in university, the plant where they worked closed, i don’t know, but in the end, they all had wisdom and knowledge I’d love to have one day. What matters is that, in the end, they make it, and that’s what makes life so great.

          The possibilities are endless, and this is the one you chose for now. As cheesy as this all may sound, take it one day at a time and do everything you can every day and it can only get better.

          Also, hugs, puppies and hot chocolate.

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    I live at home with my mother. I offer to pay for things and she usually turns me down. I buy groceries and maintain my own vehicle/phone.

    I was attending a local technical college (no dorms) and my parents helped me pay for that. I finished my Associate’s in the Summer. (this degree means NOTHING) I only have <$3,000 of student debt.

    Even if the business I worked for would entertain the notion of hiring me full-time I would have the annual salary of $16,000. But they only hire me part-time, so it's more like $9,000.

    I spend ALL OF MY MONEY. ALL OF IT. How am I not contributing to the economy? I think what the New York Times may have meant is "people aren't spending their money the way i/we think they should spend their money."

    But I'm moving out in February. SO EXCITED/TERRIFIED, YOU GUYS.

  20. Thumb up 0

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    I moved out right after high school because a family home didn’t exist anymore for me to stay in. I lived with strangers from craigslist, then friends, and learned a lot about paying bills, sorting mail, cleaning up dead birds, grocery shopping, booze, folk music, and social awkwardness. Now I live by myself and it’s pretty awesome. I don’t really feel like I’m helping the economy, but then all I ever buy are cups of coffee and MP3s, so.

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    I’m 35 and just moved away from my parent’s house- for the second time. I lived alone from 25-30 after I completed grad school and then lost my job- so I came back home and it’s taken me quite a while to recover from being jobless for a year. I’m also working a job that’s not in any way, shape or form related to my degree- so I’m not making as much as I could be. the good thing is, in the time that I lived with my parents, I managed to pay off my credit card debt, though I’m still working on the student loans. I did pay my parents rent money, bought most of my own food, cooked a lot for them, did yard work and other chores. I’m very grateful that my parents are loving and supportive of me and were able to provide me the opportunity to get back on my feet, I know I’m lucky.
    Hang in there 20-somethings!

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    I feel like the percentage should be higher than 14%.

    My first job out of college paid $263 every TWO weeks, so I lived at home OF COURSE.

    My next and current job pays a less than a dollar over minimum wage, so I lived at home and with my grandma at one point. (living at home is not ideal for me, so I was/am always looking for an apartment)

    A year ago, I had 4 jobs to support myself and I had moved into a studio apartment. My apartment burned down (due to the slum-like conditions which were all I could afford) so of course, I moved home.

    After a few months, I got back on my feet, and now I live with a roommate in a run-down apartment. I only work 1 job, buy necessities like groceries with plastic and go to school part-time (to get my master’s).

    I wish they would have interviewed someone like me about killing the economy by living with my parents…

    I feel like the ECONOMY killed ME.

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    I live in Canada, and while this isn’t true for a lot of the country, in the province I live in it is uncommon to move out until after you have your undergraduate degree.

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    i’m 27 and i’ve lived with my parents for the last five years, since i graduated from college. i feed myself and pay phone bills and car insurance but i don’t have to pay rent. i am very lucky that i get along with my family very well.

    when i first moved home i was broke, then i was, uh, kind of crazy and then i developed some chronic health problems (not psychosomatic but also probs not helped by the crazy!). i’ve stayed at the same low-paying job because they are flexible about me taking time off when i don’t feel well and i have health insurance and am afraid of trying to get a new one. now i’m still broke but am hopefull because my health is beginning to improve.

    but/and! – i am truly saner than ever before in my adult life. i am embarrassed sometimes about how my life has turned out and lonely because most of my friends have gone places while i have stayed still. cliche perhaps, but being literally unable to “do well” because of physical pain has forced me to confront and deal with psychic pain, and to learn how to handle myself.

    it has also REALLY made me think about how it is hard to feel valuable or worthy as a person when you are not being productive or when you are a fuck up. not “oh i am going to be productive soon i’m just saving up etc.” but like “i have to actually figure out how to not hate myself even though i’m not going to do anything praise-worthy anytime soon.” not that i’m not trying to make changes in my life, but for me it’s really been huge to learn to see myself as i am, even at my worst, and not hate it. i get defensive because i know some people see me as lazy or unmotivated or a baby or nuts or whatever, but the thing is that on good days i can see myself as BEING those things, at certain times, and still be ok.

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      The last paragraph got to me. I’ve been feeling excruciatingly ashamed of my nutzoid unproductivity. It’s completely isolating. Every time I imagine confiding in someone, I imagine that person telling me I brought it on myself. Even though I understand somewhere, somehow, that “lazy” doesn’t accurately characterize me at all.

      I’m all kinds of defensive about my situation; I understand that well.

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        yes it is very isolating! i see people having a hard time relating to me, even when i am not hating on myself. and yes again, i’m not lazy either, but part of me kind of thinks that it should be ok if i am.

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    Wouldn’t the logic go that by not spending your money on dishes and cable, you’re spending it on other things, like pedicures and alcohol? Money gets spent and goes into the economy somewhere. Then again, I know little to nothing about economics.

    Still, I do recommend moving out of your parents’ place — it will probably help your social/love life a lot and make you feel less like a loser. But, I had to live at home far later than I wanted. I got a job after graduating, but having chosen the career of writing (a poor choice) I simply didn’t earn enough to make moving out a good option. A lot of my fellow 20-somethings did it. Young people are living with their parents longer — it’s a fact. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and hardly the reason for our current economic woes. In fact, one could argue people who moved out of their parents’ homes when they couldn’t afford it are more to blame for the recession.

    I would say, if you are unhappy, change something in your life. And if you live at home, moving out might be a good change. For me, it definitely was. Independence, better social life, more responsibility, less stress… all great things. (See Taylor’s recent AS post about living alone though. Hah.) But I had to work toward it. In my case, I changed careers completely to one where they pay you actual living wages. You gotta have a plan and can’t expect a free ride forever. But a grace period after college? Absolutely.

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    Here in Australia it seems way more socially acceptable for people to live at home after high school/college (for better or worse).

    I moved out when I was eighteen and haven’t looked back. But I left college at a bit more advantageous of a time (and promptly moved to the other side of the planet).

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      Agreed, I’m 23 and I’d say more than half of my friends still live at home.

      I’ve heard people call us the Boomerang Generation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boomerang_Generation)
      We move out, live on our own for a bit then move back in.

      Or I think most people do it to help buy property. I know people that live at home, save money, buy a small unit, live in it for 6 months, move back in with parents, start receiving rent money for unit, save more so that in 5 years time they MIGHT be able to afford a house.

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    If I could afford to contribute $145,000 to the economy…

    I live at home, I always have. I’m 29, I’ve graduated from college twice. I work full time, pay my insurance, rent, phone, student loan, buy my own groceries, shovel the driveway for my parents when it snows, take out the trash, help out in anyway I can around the house, hell I even PAINTED the whole exterior of our two level house last summer. I helped re-roof the garage, fixed one of the walls then painted it all too. If I’m a burden on society, I ain’t even sorry.

    If I could I probably wouldn’t move out. I love my family, I love helping out and I love knowing that my important people are safe and cared for. No regrets.

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    I lived at home for the first year after undergrad, because I did City Year, and really didn’t want to live in an apartment with like 5 other people, because we all made $150 a week. I then moved out, but now, at age 30, my wife and I are planning on buying a two-family with my parents. I’m all about the close family bonds and financial and emotional support of family. And yet I am also a fully-able adult, who can do All The Adult Things, and has a job, etc.

    My wife lived at home with her folks until she was 32. She paid into the family bills, but her parents made it clear that they couldn’t afford to give their kids much money directly, but could let them live at home for cheap and therefore let them save money towards their futures. We’ve now lived in our own place for four years, but we would not remotely be in the stable financial situation we’re in if my in-laws hadn’t given my wife that gift. My sister-in-law and her husband still live with my in-laws, so that they are saving enough money to pay down all of my brother-in-law’s student loan debt, so that they can afford a house.

    According to most of society, apparently, my wife and her sister were “failures to launch”. However, during that time of living at home, my wife started her own business, which is now 14 years old. Her sister has paid down all of her student loan debt, taken on and is finishing her husband’s, and is saving toward a house. They are not failures to launch, they are responsible adults who gave up something (freedom, not sharing a house with your parents) in exchange for something else (financial stability, knowing you’re setting off on a good footing.)

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    Though I am 30 years old, I still live with my parents. It is rather common in Hong Kong since many of us can’t afford the apartments. Here we live in the most expensive city that is worse than London or New York. Some of the older generation even help their children purchase the homes. One person I know has to eat ramen noodle daily so he can save money for a 300 sqm apartment room three years later!

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    I live with my mother… and my fiancee. (Because marriage is legal here now!) Except I’m not so much “living at home” as I am “splitting an apartment with my mother” (& said fiancee). I pay half the rent. I buy my share of the groceries. I pay down my student loans and other sundry debt. Until the fiancee moved in I paid the cable/internet and my mother paid the utilities. Now we’re splitting costs 3 ways. Which makes sense, considering I (25 y.o.) and my mother (62 y.o.) make about the same pre-taxes, and my fiancee works for Americorpse [sic].

    And for the record, my mother and I moved into an apartment that is NOT the one I grew up in–since the costs of a 3-bedroom in Manhattan are insane. Instead we chose a place, together, that we could both live with. Her health insurance costs double what her share of the rent is every month. Doesn’t that make up for my “not acting like a grownup”? 0.o

    It’s pretty clear that the author of that NYT article (Rampell) had no sense of the microeconomic reality that people in this generation are facing: student loans are massive, the jobs just simply aren’t there (hence Americorps), and moving out isn’t always an option. The economy still gets PLENTY of my money (as judged by my savings account)–it’s just that it goes to insurance, and student loans, and food, and transportation, rather than to IKEA.

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    I’d rather live in my car than move back in with one of my parents, as demonstrated for a depressing 6 weeks back in summer of 09. Seriously, my mental health is more important than whether or not there are crackheads outside my window.

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    I moved back home to my parents’ place shortly after college graduation. I was 24 years old and couldn’t find a decent-paying job and needed to regroup and job-hunt. I had debt to pay off, too. Ended up going to teach overseas. I have a teaching degree so it was a smart move for me. That was two years ago. I am now debt-free and beginning to save money for the first time in my life. I am thankful my parents offered to let me stay with them for a few months while I searched for a good job. I did not have to pay rent, but I helped pay the grocery bill and did a lot of manual labor to compensate : )

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    When I graduated from college back in the last decade, I had the fortunate situation of desiring a career in theatre and having a family home in New York City. So when I moved home after college, many of my friends were moving to the same place. My summer job transitioned into a full time job, and since I wasn’t paying rent or utilities, I was able to save money and move out after a year. Granted, I also spent a lot of money on partying that I would never do now that I do have bills to pay.

    I remember at the time feeling such shame about moving back in with my parents. I’ve always been an overachiever and stubbornly independent person. And even though I get along really well with my family, living in my childhood bedroom at the age of 22 made me feel like a failure. But, as they say, hindsight is 20/20. I was able to start paying off my student loans right away. I also got to experience a lot of the nightlife New York has to offer without having too many terrible repercussions. And maybe some people can grow up without making lots of mistakes, but I am not one of those people. I firmly believe that I would not have the stability and maturity I do today had I not had the opportunity to go wild in my youth.

    I think the bigger issue that needs to be addressed is the fact that we live in a debt-dependent society. Asking people to start their adult life in debt puts them back before they have even begun. No wonder we are the Boomerang Generation. We have no means by which to set up an adult life because we’re playing catch up from our youth. Some misspent, some well spent, but still all spent. Until we figure out a way to live within our means, more and more Americans will stay at home as long as they can.

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    “and never ever have sex ever.”
    What is your house a convent? :D
    To answer the questions about Europeans the situation is different from one country to another. I mean if you generally look to Sweden or Northern Europe, the Welfare allow to have rent at advantaged prices to student and young people, so they usually move out pretty fast (at least this is what I hear from people which have been there in Erasmus). In southern Europe and I’m talking of Italian situation (beacause it’s where I live..) generally people tend to stay at home until late (sometimes until marriage). The thing for most people I know is we move out out of necessity. Generally graduating from one University or another doesn’t make a big difference, and mostly we have all the faculties close to home, so we stay there to be close to our highschool friends. (I’m a first year in medicine and I had not one but two faculties near home so..) Even the ones that live alone every weekend get back to their parents houses and mostly it’s their parents which pays their rent so it’s not really being independent.This because when you have to be at the university 5 days a week morning and afternoon you can’t find a “stable” job! The fact is, in Italy, even after graduating it’s very difficult to find a job for young people, even more difficult to find a job which “pays the bills”. Mostly people stays at their parents houses until they find a job to do that after graduation and in the meantime they save up money. We generally have not a “debt culture”, we have a “save money, then when you have enough, you buy”.

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    I moved back home for a number of reasons, most of them economical. I make about $30K a year between my two jobs. I work part-time at a bookstore making barely above minimum wage there even though I’ve been an employee for three years. My full-time job is for my Dad’s sales company. When the economy tanked our business was hard hit and I had to take a pay cut. Currently working 40 hours a week I make the equivalent of what I would have made four years working 32 hours a week. But the business needed to cut costs and we were still sinking so I volunteered to do that to save my family business.

    A little over two years ago I had to take the pay cut and the rent on my apartment got raised from $900/month to $1100/month. Mind you, my apartment complex was built in the early seventies and it showed. My furnace went out every couple of weeks, my apartment was infested with Silverfish, the floor in my kitchen was slowly collapsing, and the maintenance was so bad that you could hardly walk on the complex stairs for the amount of cat poop they were covered in. On top of that, one of my cats stopped using the litter box and about $3000 in vet bills later it turned out she’d hurt her back.

    Then my car wouldn’t start.

    Basically in a matter of two or three months my entire savings account got emptied, I couldn’t afford the raised rent (working a 40 hour a week job and another 20-30 hour a week second job), our family business (which at the time employed my entire working age family – both my parents, my sister, my brother-in-law, and myself) was possibly going under, and my parents had a free room and needed help with making the mortgage.

    Could I have found roommates or a really cheap apartment in a far scarier neighborhood or with a huge commute? Yes. But it didn’t make as much sense and it still doesn’t. This was I have money I’m saving, I can help my family out, and this year I can FINALLY replace my damn car.

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    I’m one of the 20 somethings living at home with the padres. I agree with your article, by saying that we’re ruining the economy is biased and uneducated and it’s not looking at all sides of the spectrum, nor is it looking at the reality of recent grads being able to afford living on their own right out of college, especially with student debt.

    I have a good amount of friends living on their own after school, and a lot of them are very strapped, overwhelmed and unhappy or they have a higher paying job that they’re forced to keep to pay their bills and living expenses, but they’re not happy. Of course there are exceptions to this. Just as there are exceptions to 20 somethings ruining the economy living with their parents. There are also a lot of lazy 20 somethings doing nothing with their lives, living with their parents. That’s the point – one can’t group a diverse age range and say we’re destroying the economy.

    Living with my parents, I have the support to pursue my passions and dreams and I have the time to nurture them and to turn them into an income that will allow me to move out. My passions are awesome and are helping a lot of people, changing lives and helping strengthen communities – I think that’s a valuable contribution to society.

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      I don’t think enough value is placed on being happy or at least content with how life is going. Your friends who are strapped for cash and miserable make me feel sad. It’s one thing to go through a bit of a rough patch but it increasingly feels like “that’s how it’s supposed to be” if you’re to be considered at all a srsbsns member of society.

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        I completely agree, not enough value is placed on being happy. If more people made happiness their main goal it would benefit a lot more people. If one’s happiness was based in helping others, sharing their passions, connecting – then in the long run that would probably have a greater impact on society and the economy, as opposed to jumping head first into a time consuming job just to get by, or a high paying time consuming job that is unfulfilling. A lot more creativity could be flowing through the world. Happier, more productive people could be contributing in a way that impassions them. It may take more time for people to find and create a lifestyle around what impassions them, but if you have a stronger happier culture at the core there are good chances it would be stronger in a lot more aspects outside of people’s happiness as individuals.

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    I commented on this article earlier about my living situation but I want to add something. Briefly, I’m 22, college grad, living between my mum’s house and my boyfriend’s house. I started a new job today, as a seasonal cashier at a Barnes and Noble for $8.25 an hour. Two other people started today and we did training together. One is 26, the other 23, and they have one and two Bachelor’s degrees respectively. They both plan to go back to college, one is actively applying and the other is still unsure of what she wants to do. They are both living back in their childhood homes, mere miles away from their old schools and both have two jobs. One of them also has an unpaid internship for 16 hours/week.

    Everyone who has worked at the store a long time seems to have made a career of it, as in 10+ years, and then there’s us. We are all in exactly the same boat. I was pleasantly surprised by the level of intelligent conversation I could have at work, and I got on really well with my fellow new people. Then I realised it’s because we are all extremely overqualified for the job and my enjoyment of the position is actually an indication of how bad things are. In a better economy, I would not enjoy working as a cashier. These tough times have meant at least I’m in good company.

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    I’m only 18 so not probably qualified to comment on the twenty-somethings, but to give a perspective from the Pacific (NZ) most of my friends in their twenties seem to neither live alone nor with their parents. It’s kind of assumed that you’ll go flatting until you’ve got enough money to either go overseas or rent your own place, which seems to happen in the late twenties/early thirties. One of my friends in his early thirties just moved from living alone into a flat with some mates, so I guess there is a little bit of a boomerang if that counts?

    I don’t know, renting a property in Wellington where I am seems to be about $140/week, with way cheaper rates in the suburbs or smaller cities/towns. Maybe it’s much cheaper than the US or summat.

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    I’m twentysomething and living happily with my parents… our house is a ten- minute walk away from my faculty, so it’d be crazy not to. I live in Spain, life is not that expensive here but young people get really low sallaries (I work full time and I make 2.5 euros an hour!) and lately it’s been hard to even get a job.
    I love what I do, though. I also study half-time and help my currently unemployed parents with some of the house expenses… I would like to move out soon, but I can’t really save money, I spend most of it on school fees and art supplies! :/

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