Remember that comedy flick starring Matthew McConaughey about a 35-year-old man who lived with his parents? At the time, it was great comic relief. Fast forward 10 years later, though, and the idea of millennials living at home has gone from social stigma to social trend.
Today, it seems that everyone’s doing the “failure to launch.” According to a recent Pew analysis, adults from the ages of 18 to 34 are more likely to be living at home with their parents than to have any other living arrangement. In fact, for the first time ever, moving in with the parental unit is the most common young adult living arrangement – a phenomenon that’s never been recorded before.
Our boomerang generation can be attributed to many reasons including economic cost savings in a tough labor market– free housing and laundry – postponement in marriage and buying a home, and a social shift where millennials tend to stretch out the walk to full adult independence.
Whatever the reason, if you’re one of the many millennials living with mom and dad, there are a number of ways it can help in navigating your professional life. On the other hand, there may be times when living at home is not so helpful, especially if you start getting too comfortable.
First 5 is here to explain the pros and cons and how you can best make use of this extra “growing up” time you get:
Save on costs. Of course, the first major benefit of sharing rent with mom and dad is you don’t have to pay for rent or worry about a number of other costs that come with living on your own like groceries or transportation. Use this time to start putting any extra money you earn aside, so when it is time to move out, you have a solid savings to help you start adulthood.
Gain age-old professional wisdom and support. Whether you’re looking for a job or already working, who better to ask for career advice then your biggest fans and cheerleaders? They’ve been there before, and though they may have experienced a different workplace when they were young professionals, mom and dad can be great resources for navigating how to apply for jobs. Or, at the very least, they can help make sure that outfit you’re wearing really is work appropriate
Be pragmatic. Living in your local town means you’re more familiar with the people there and may be more easily able to build a network and get an entry-level gig. Living in familiar territory can definitely make finding a job easier and your commute to work easier. Living at home allows you to worry less about survival and worry more about your future and career.
Harms professionalism. As much as it is the norm to live with your parents now, potential employers may still not understand this phenomenon. They may be weary to take on those still living at home because it can come off as lack of maturity. Additionally, recruiters and potential employers dislike nothing less than helicopter parents calling workplaces and micromanaging their young employees.
Stunts growth. Being at home has its challenges because it can make us too comfortable. Living with parents means dependency and not always having to make important life decisions. Sometimes, our professional and overall growth slows when we postpone important phases of adulthood that we get when we’re independent and living on our own. These important phases include learning responsibility, resourcefulness and problem solving skills.
If you’re lucky enough to have your family close by and your parents are nice enough to let you stay, then by all means: take advantage of the opportunity to spend some time to “find yourself” with the ones who love you most in this world. But to be sure that living at home doesn’t make you a failure to launch, keep these tips in mind:
Maintain boundaries. You know your parents love you, but make sure to be clear about the role they should play in your professional life. Draw the line: no phone calls to your workplace unless it’s an absolute emergency, no parents at happy hours or professional events unless family’s invited, and no intervention from parents when interviewing or receiving bad reports from bosses.
Be mature about it. If you’re in the workplace and coworkers are talking about their living arrangements, don’t feel ashamed to be honest about living at home. Some people may not understand, but try not to make a huge deal out of it. Have a clear explanation, like “I’m trying to save up to get my own place right now” or “I’m using this time to help my parents out.” Just be sure not to include your parents in every topic of conversation, like in a meeting always bringing up how,”My dad always says..” You don’t want your coworkers doubting your maturity.
Use time wisely. Unless you want to live in mom and dad’s basement for the rest of your life, then remember that the ultimate goal is to move out and be on your own once you find your footing. If you’re job hunting, use this downtime to really work on your resume and applications. This is also a great time to find a side hustle in your local area and earn some extra cash and experience to add to your resume. That way, when you interview for jobs again, you won’t have major gaps in your resume and will have meaningful professional insights.
Pay at least part of the expenses. If you’re working, it can go a long way to help yourself prepare for life’s responsibilities by paying a portion of the rent or even just the cable TV or electric bill. This not only helps your parents, but also helps you to become financially independent and better-equipped to tough it out on your own in the job market.
Whether you’re just 22 and out of college, or even 34, there’s no need to be ashamed of rooming with the parents. As Lisa Curtis from Forbes nicely sums it up, “Following a better path won’t be easy but as we lie dreaming under the glow-in-the-dark stars of our childhood room, we know that it’s at least a dream worth fighting for.”
This post is part of GovLoop’s millennial blog series, First 5.