In the last decade, the narrative of the college graduate who still lives with their parents has become increasingly normalized. The collapse of the American economy and the change in available, desirable jobs has led many recent grads to flock back home in an effort to save money and figure out their options in a world where their degree is not a guarantee. For many people, this seems like the best choice, but I would like to argue that moving back in with your family after college can easily become the kiss of death. In contrast, living alone, or at least with a roommate or two (or six), is exactly what most recent graduates need to make the transition into full-grown adulthood.
1.) Whether you grew up in a tiny town or a big city, you owe it to yourself to experience a whole new environment of your choosing. Unless your parents moved around a lot when you were growing up, you’ve probably only experienced daily life in two or three places. The world has a lot more to offer, though, and you deserve to experience new places, new cultures, and new ideas. Moving to a different environment can be inspiring and motivating simply because it is disorienting. Plus, it can help you narrow down what kind of place you want to settle down in sooner. Maybe you’ve always imagined yourself moving to NYC one day. Well, moving there in your 20s whether you’re ready or not will definitely show you if that’s the place you want to be.
2.) You’ll learn how to be alone. Even if you have roommates, moving away from your family for the first time will inevitably come with a sense of loneliness that you have probably never experienced. Obviously, this doesn’t sound like a good thing, but learning to be comfortable being alone is a super important part of growing up. Being separated from your family will force you to be more independent in all aspects of your life. If you live at home, you may be tempted to ask your mom 8 million questions about taxes and stocks, but when you have a physical distance, you’re more likely to attempt to figure it out on your own.
3.) You’ll be more creative when it comes to money. Living with your parents is usually something you consider because you’re broke. Financial security and a few bucks out of your dad’s wallet every now and then can be super helpful when you’re trying to transition from college to career. Of course, if your parents continue to support you financially after college, you’ll have a harder time learning how to budget money and make money on the side. If you move out, you’ll quickly realize that bills are real things with real consequences, so if your bank account says “$0”, you have to figure something out. You might have to rely on hobbies or talents to make money — for example if you do photography in your spare time you could consider doing freelance work for cheap to help make ends meet. You’ll also learn exactly how many bubble baths you can afford to take per month.
4.) Going with the flow will become much easier. Most people are brought up in a way that causes them to crave structure. In grade school we walked in uniform lines, at home we had a list of chores, and your first summer job had strict uniform guidelines. This structure can be useful for the sake of social conventions, but also harmful in that we grow to have a fear of change or disruption. Living alone for the first time will help you break away from that pattern and allow you to come up with creative solutions on the job and elsewhere. For example, maybe you grew up with a strict understanding of what food should be eaten when (i.e. eggs for breakfast, deli meats at lunch, steak and chicken for dinner). Living alone and being broke will thrust you into a situation in which you probably have a more random assortment of foods in your fridge — cue crazy concoctions and the discovery of new recipes. Who knew you could make a filling egg dish for dinner with the help of some leftover spinach and a crusty baguette that you brought from the dead?
5.) You’ll feel way more accomplished. When you move back in with your parents after college, you definitely still have the possibility of doing well and becoming adjusted. However, you’ll never be able to answer the question: Could I have done it all on my own? When I have asked my mother what her greatest regrets in life are, she always says she wished she hadn’t moved back in with her family because she never really proved herself as a self-reliant person. Then, later on, when she was widowed in her 50s, she felt the impact two-fold. She had moved straight from her parents house to the one she built with her husband and now she had no idea how to do things by herself. I advise living on your own in the beginning so you never have to ask yourself whether you can handle it if the situation arises. Knowing your limits, your strengths, and your abilities like the back of your hand will make you feel better about yourself in the long run.