How to Live at Home and Not Go Insane

One of the main reasons I was able to save up so much money in such a short length of time , was my Mother, who was generous enough to let me live at home, rent free for the past two years. It was a pretty sweet deal that not everyone can swing, but if you have the chance, it’s a really great opportunity to save some green.

Still, I won’t lie and say it’s the easiest choice. At 23, 24, 25 years old I wanted nothing more than to be decorating my own apartment and having my own space where I could lie around in my underwear and eat macaroni and cheese (that’s my fantasy and I’m sticking with it). Sleeping in my childhood bed felt like stagnating. It was frustrating at times, but I figured out how to cope, and now I’m going to impart my wisdom to you.

Ashamed SEO
photo credit: Search Engine People Blog

Don’t Be Ashamed

There’s nothing worse than meeting someone new at a bar or at work, and having to admit, under your breath, that you live at home. It never stops feeling immature. Whenever I started to feel down I reminded myself that it’s not that unnatural for twenty-somethings to live at home in the current recession era. I knew my reasons, I knew I could have moved out, but I was working towards something bigger. If you own your decisions, than it becomes just another fact about you. Not a dirty secret.

215/365: Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast
photo credit: by Janine

Create Your Own Space

Just because you’re camping out in your high school bedroom doesn’t mean it has to LOOK like your high school bedroom. If you know you’re going to be stationary for awhile, spend a little time and money redecorating your space into something that suits your current personality. It doesn’t have to be a huge chance, but it will keep you from feeling stuck in the past.

Red dots
photo credit: Håkan Dahlström

Define Your Boundaries

While you are updating your room, it’s probably time to update your parent-child dynamic. I’m not in high school anymore, so it was understood that I could stay our as late as I wanted and eat cookies for breakfast (not that I DID, but I COULD).

photo credit: blmurch

Respect Your Parents Needs

The flip side of being treated like an adult is not acting like a child. If you are 24 there is no justification for your mom to be doing your laundry or cleaning your room. Pitch in and empty the dishwasher or vacuum the living room once in awhile. Maybe pitch in and pay the cable bill if it’s needed. It’s just good manners. Acting like a grown up will make you feel better and probably keep your parents from wanting to throttle you.

Give a Little

In an ideal world those last two points would keep things running smoothly, but this is not always the case. So give in a bit; you are the indebted one after all. Did I need to tell my mom where I was going when I left the house? No. Did it make her feel better? Yes, and it cost absolutely nothing from me. Sometimes you need to take a deep breath and let things slide for the sake of harmonious living. Otherwise known as: choose your battles.

Have an Escape

When all else fails, it helps to just get out of the house. Have somewhere you can escape to, and remind yourself you are a grown up. For me, decompressing during my daily commute by singing at the to of my lungs was a great way to reduce tension and transition from Home Stephanie to Work Stephanie. For you, it might be retreating to a nearby park, or coffee shop.

Moving back home can be very emotional, and it’s easy to slip back into old family dynamics. But if you approach your living situation honestly and rationally, then it can be a really great stepping stone to greater things.

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36 thoughts on “How to Live at Home and Not Go Insane”

  1. My boyfriend and I moved in with my Grandma after we finished uni. It was a great compromise because we got rent-free living in a nice house and she got company and help with things that she was starting to find harder. Now, she’s a pretty cool Nan, but that’s not to say it didn’t get tough at times. Silly things like needing to let her know if we’re not coming home at the normal time can somehow revert me to a stroppy teenager. But on the plus side, I’ve gotten to spend far more time with my Nan than I otherwise would have done, heard endless stories and learnt to cook and knit! There really are some plud sides to moving back home but I think your tips would help to make it a smoother experience!

    1. Yeah, there are some real hidden benefits to living with family- a lot of quality time to be had. Important to make the best of it.

  2. I moved in and out of my parents’ place many times throughout my 20s, in between years in Europe and Africa and the Middle East. It was a wonderful chance to settle down long enough to save some money and reconnect with everyone…without having to set up my own flat with furniture (which is dauntingly expensive where I come from). I knew I was just passing through and was grateful for the time I got to spend with them and what their generosity has allowed me to do.

    I’m one of the only people I know who not only was able to travel extensively from age 19 onwards but also graduated at 28 with a BA and no debt– all because I was allowed to live at home and work while I studied and do it all gradually over a decade, part time, instead of taking out loans to cover not only tuition but also housing costs.

    I am very very thankful for what they gave me.

  3. It’s not easy – we’ve still got about 6 months left of living with parents before our trip! We’re only one month down at the moment and it seems to get harder by the day! But we just need to remind ourselves why we’re there and the amount of money we’re saving from this sacrifice.

    It will all be worth it when it’s done! 🙂

    1. It will definitely be worth it in the end- nad you’ll probably be surprised how much you actually miss them when you’re gone.

  4. I moved back in so that I could save money for my dream destination wedding. It was MUCH easier than I thought it would be after living away for almost a decade.

  5. That’s a great post, and I totally respect your fantasies!

    I had to live with my mother-in-law for 6 months before I left and it worked pretty well. But my fiancé and I were glad to leave because despite all the advantages, it was sometimes pretty heavy. But I was able to save a lot of money and get closer to her.

    One idea is to have a small fridge in your own room. Not only to cover basic cravings, but also to store things that the rest of your family doesn’t use – I didn’t want to invade my MIL’s fridge with my things.

    Although the dynamics of living at the in-laws rather than at your own family’s place is totally different, in the end, the general idea is the same: be generous and thankful.

    1. A fridge is a really good idea- one I have considered myself. Anything you can do to give yourself privacy/autonomy is probably good.

  6. I stayed at home for a year after I returned from Brazil at the age of 25 & was starting a new job. And, honestly, as much as I didn’t think I would, I loved it. It was fun to reconnect with my family after living on my own so long and being abroad. Eventually I moved out after a year with them, but, I have to say, it was pretty awesome to have home-cooked meals and someone to call when my car broke down (which it did… a LOT).

  7. I did this in order to save up for my future travels and to say it was HARD is an understatement.

    My cousins kindly offered me their spare room with the agreement of only paying utility bills so I snapped it up in an instant. I couldn’t agree more with “don’t be ashamed.” Especially when you’re doing it for a reason like a dream.

    And if I did not receive the kind offer-I’d still be at home roughing it out-as it’d all be worth it in the end, right? Great article Steph, maybe one that many can relate to.

    1. Yeah, I think it’s totally worth it with all but the most unreasonable of parents. Lucky that you got an out though!

  8. These are great tips. I’ve been living at home for a couple years and staying a few more while I’m in school. I have to admit #1 really resonated with me, but I know I can’t afford school and my own place. Luckily I get along with my parents, we all give each other enough space. But the downside is I’m worried I’ll get too comfortable,and be less inclined to leave. That’s why I think it’s good to have a time limit. It’s easy for a couple years to turn into several.

    1. This is true- I know at least a few people who really need a kick in the pants or they are NEVER going to leave their parents home. Living at home should be a stepping stone to greater things.

  9. Thanks so much for this! I’m still living at home to save up money to move to Savannah, GA in a couple years and at times it drives me out of my mind. It helps to know there are (or “were” in your case now that you’re traveling) others doing the same. The “pick your battles” tip is one I’ve come to realize can help keep me sane while I’m still here. That, and finding somewhere to escape to outside of the house when I need it.

    1. I love Savannah! Gorgeous city.

      I think it also helps to remind yourself that your situation is temporary and things won’t always be like this. The light at the end of the tunnel and all that.

  10. Great tips. I don’t live at home with my parents, but some of these tips are useful for just the short periods I am at home over Christmas and I have to get used to the whole dynamic again. I’m also going to pass this on to my youngest brother, who is back at home as he searches for a job.

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