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One Year Out: Is Moving Back Home a Sign of Failure?

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Ashley Kim
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Published on November 8, 2016

Today, I’m a pretty self-assured person. I have a general idea of the direction I’m headed in life, sprinkled with a healthy dose of take-things-as-they-come.

But if you had met me a year ago, a few weeks out of college, you would have found someone with indefinite living arrangements, let alone life plans. I was among the many recent college grads unsure of what my next step was, and it wasn’t until the past couple of months that I really began to feel like I have a strong game plan.

I’ve gained a few nuggets of wisdom over the past 12 months, and I’ll share them with you in this One Year Out series. First up on the agenda: living arrangements.

Is moving back home a sign of failure?

A classic sign of reaching adulthood is leaving the nest and living on your own, so moving back home after college would be a sign of failure, right?

I used to think so.

I don’t think anyone strives to live with their parents forever, but the truth is that more and more college graduates are moving back home. In fact, according to Pew Research Center, 32.1% of 18 to 34-year-olds live at home with their parents. That’s the most common living arrangement, even over living alone.

Plenty of working Millennials are choosing to live at home, even if they can afford to move out. Why? Well, you can save a lot of money. For people trying to save for grad school or a new car, moving back in with their parents makes a lot of sense. It’s also convenient and, let’s face it, sometimes a much better option than living with that random Craigslist psycho. Plus, Mom’s casserole really hits the spot.

But what if you have to move back home because you can’t afford to live on your own? Are you a failure then?

Again, I used to think so.

After college, I was faced with a painful decision. Do I take the first job I can get just to pay the bills and continue living on my own, or do I move back home, save my money, and look for serious career-building positions? I gave myself a month of the former and then chose the latter.

I felt like a failure up until I finally found a job, but once I had the job and could afford to move out, I continued to stay at home; and I wasn’t alone. Most of my 20-something co-workers were also living at home. Could we afford to move out? Yes. Did we want to move out? At times. Were we actually going to move out? Not anytime soon.

As a young person with no firm commitment to any city, person or job, it might not make sense to make a commitment to a lease and invest in furnishing an apartment. If it makes sense for you, that’s great. Go forth and conquer! If it doesn’t make sense for you, then just know you’re not a failure. You’re using your resources, and that’s a very mature move.

Ashley Kim

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