Amy Mace on the strange joys and difficulties of living at home in your twenties…
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt since graduating university, it’s that a good attitude will get you far. And I don’t just mean at work (although it does help). I’m talking about navigating the minefield of potential meltdowns that could be caused by having less time to yourself, less time with friends, waking up early, getting home late, kissing goodbye to six-week summer holidays and yes, you guessed it, moving home.
Moving home is, for many, the obvious next step after graduation. Some people are lucky enough to have to move out to be nearer their jobs, and for a while I was envious of friends living their best life south of the river. I longed to be drinking overpriced pints in trendy pubs, snuggling under blankets in November because the boiler was broken, and staying out late without panicked WhatsApp’s asking me where I was and how I was getting home. Life after university is glamourised until it becomes some shining beacon of freedom and adult life that, in the end, is unattainable for the masses.
After 3 raucous years shacked up with friends at university I’d vowed to never relinquish that freedom. Unsurprisingly, I ended up home after graduation with my tail between my legs. But what else could I do? Uni was great but I quickly realised all the jobs I wanted were in London; and living a twenty-minute train ride away from central made moving out feel totally unjustifiable, financially speaking. So despite knowing it was for the best, why did it feel like some sort of failure?
Initially, it felt like my parent’s choice of dwelling in the North London suburbs was a curse – a clever ruse to trap me in the green belt and never let me go. As if surrendering undergraduate life wasn’t difficult enough, I had to come home to MasterChef and Countryfile and a barrage of questions about how my day was – imagine. I was back in a bedroom I hadn’t properly lived in since secondary school, cluttered with teen fiction and Top Trumps cards and clothes I hadn’t worn since I was 16. I had to take my shoes off before walking upstairs, eat at the table and use coasters. It was a veritable culture shock.
But I soon came to realise that it wasn’t home that was the issue – it was me. I was so convinced that living at home would be rubbish that it was becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, as I wasted energy looking backwards at what I missed rather than forwards at what I could gain.
Ten months down the line my parents still hate it if I leave the shampoo in the shower or my washing in the washing machine, but this is a small price to pay for financial stability, minimal responsibilities and the opportunity to save that hard earned dolla for when the time is right to move.
Once you accept that living at home isn’t going to be as wild as living in a house with nine of your friends, and that your parents won’t sit up chatting until 3am and then agree to skip work the next day in favour of watching an entire series of Gossip Girl, you can start to view moving home as a stepping stone rather than a setback and appreciate all the good things.
Here are some of my favourite things about living at home:
- You save money on rent so can afford to drink more G&T’s and spend more time abroad
- You get to live under the same roof as parents and siblings for potentially the last time ever – precious time indeed
- You don’t have to shop for food, clean, or embroil yourself in the passive aggressive politics of washing up (if you’re lucky)
- A longer commute will give you time to listen to lots of hilarious podcasts, read lots of books and do intellectual things like crosswords (a recent passion of mine)
- Mainly thanks to point 3, you have time for such things as going to the gym, watching Love Island and painting your nails
In conclusion, almost a year after returning to the nest, I’m confident that if you have the opportunity to take stock at home for a little while, there’s no need to fling yourself into a flat in the spirit of being in your twenties and in your prime. All good things are worth waiting for; as is being penniless, living off hummus and pitta and having stand offs about whose turn it is to buy the loo roll. So it’s not all doom and gloom.
Moving home runs the risk of feeling like a step in the wrong direction, and often it’s not ideal for you or your parents, but adopting the right attitude and being patient can turn your stint at home into a positive experience. You might not have the same lifestyle as you did living with mates; but returning to base can be great for entirely different reasons if you embrace it with open arms.
So appreciate the family time, be nice to your parents, unload the dishwasher and give it a chance. You’re not a failure, so make moving back in with your folks a success.
Follow Amy on Twitter: @amymacee
Illustration: Sophie Parsons