Living with parents: How long is too long?

Carolyn Hax
Columnist November 1, 2011

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Hi, Carolyn!

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

How old is too old to live at home? I’m 24 and employed but live in a very large, expensive city. My parents are happy to have me live at home so I can save my money and eventually buy a place, rather than throw money away on rent. Some of my friends think this is a great situation, but the majority of people think this is weird. What do you think?

Living with parents

Depends on the details. Are you an independent person who occupies space in your parents’ home, or are your parents doing your laundry and cooking your food? I suppose the latter is okay, too, among consenting adults, but too often the person who gets a free ride like that (and/or who doesn’t chafe at the idea of it) is perfectly cool with having a partner cater to them later on, even when said partner protests the unequal domestic workloads.


So, yeah, enjoy your money-saving arrangement, but make sure you’re a giver vs. a taker in all other respects — for your own sake.

Carolyn:

I would say I am somewhat independent. I am 100 percent financially independent. I do my own laundry, but I don’t cook. I help out around the house and run errands for my parents when I can. I enjoy a fair amount of privacy in that I come and go when I please.

Living with parents, again

Sounds like an ideal roommate situation. Given how expensive housing (still) is in many big cities, people who are starting out have fewer choices, and often there are just two: Live on your own and postpone home ownership indefinitely, or bunk with family and save. As long as you and your parents are okay with your choice (and you have a clear goal, vs. finding new ways to rationalize staying on the dole), you’re under no obligation to take the view of your critics to heart.

Re: Living with parents:

I have many friends with at-home 20-somethings. All of them tell the kids they LOVE having them at home and all of them would LOVE to have them move out. Enough is enough, and even if you have to really work at saving money, you should move out if you can. It’s part of growing up.

Anonymous

When it’s a save-money solution, there really does have to be a deadline/dollar mark, dutifully charted out and adhered to. Thanks. Though the parents also should be honest, no?

Re: Living with parents:

Can we please end the “throwing money away on rent” myth? There are many valid reasons to choose renting over owning even if you can afford to buy a house.

Anonymous 2

Especially now, when millions of people have recently and painfully awakened to the fact of their throwing money away on the homes they bought.

There’s also the emotional angle. The rent that young adults pay (vs. bunking w/parents) isn’t “thrown away,” it’s invested in self and maturity. We all have to pay for shelter somehow, and rent is a legitimate avenue.

Thanks for flagging this.

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost.com. Subscribe at www.facebook.com/carolynhax.

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