True Story: I’m 31 + Living With My Parents

This is one of many True Story interviews in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting/challenging/amazing things. This is the story of Cait and her experience moving back in with her parents.

living with parents

Tell us a bit about yourself!
Hi! My Name is Cait and I am 31 years old and currently living in Upstate NY. I work for a not-for-profit Family & Child Agency as an assistant. For fun I enjoy playing with my dog and making costumes (True Story: I’m a Cosplayer! haha) and I also spend most weekends traveling with my boyfriend.

In your teens and twenties, what did you imagine life would look like at 30?
I imagined that I’d be married and have a couple of kids. Have my own house have a career… Basically, have my act together.

What were you doing three years ago?
Three years ago, I was living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn with my previous boyfriend. I was working for a popular top 40 radio station doing promotional work, and also as counter help at a bakery in Manhattan.

What lead to you moving back in with your parents?
In the summer of 2012, my ex and I decided to move out of Brooklyn and go to (His native) Michigan. I figured that moving away from my family and friends was okay, because it really seemed like he was IT. That we were in it together. We found an apartment outside of Detroit and took our dog and put everything in a truck and drove out.

Things were really good for a while. But there were always money issues and crappy jobs with conflicting schedules hanging over our heads and after almost 3.5 years, he felt the pressure (self imposed) to move forward or end it, and he chose to end it. Quite suddenly.

When you and your partner broke up, what other options did you consider before you called your parents?
I tried my hardest to hold things together, to suggest things that might help fix it all. But he had extremely low confidence that anything would help. So my options were to stay in the apartment we shared (I didn’t have the money to move out) working as a temp and try to make it work in a place with very few friends of my own, or go home and be with my support system that I had missed so much. It kind of seemed obvious what I should do.

How did they react when you told them what happened?
I talked to my mom on the phone and she just kept saying how sad she was. She wanted things to work out for us, but I think deep down, she was a bit relieved that It was over. My dad was just mad at him.

My mom told me that I could come home and that I was welcome to bring our dog with me. I still told him that I’d stay if he wanted to work on things, but he didn’t. So I took her up on the offer.

How did you feel on the day you moved back in?
I had been through a whirlwind few days. From Saturday and Sunday trying to convince him to change his mind, to packing and taking care of my affairs (including going to work, and cleaning out my desk, and saying goodbye) on Sunday night and Monday, and then loading up the rental truck with my parents on Tuesday (who drove out less than 24 hours after I told them I wanted to go home. They are the best.), to driving the 10 hours home on Wednesday.

When I finally got home, it all caught up with me and was really rough. Not only dealing with being without a person I thought would be around forever, but to being a single (doggie) mom, and being back in the house I swore I’d never move back into. It felt comforting to be back in a familiar place, but also awful, because I felt like I had failed at life. I had many moments in the first few weeks where all I wanted to do was hop in my car and drive back.

About a month after I came home, I found a new job at a fantastic and caring place, and from there, things started looking up.

Do the people in your life know that you’re living with your parents?
Yes. Everyone is supportive. Most have said that they are really just happy to have me home. They all see it as a good opportunity for me to get myself back on my feet and functioning again.

How is your relationship with your parents? What are they like?
I’d classify it as somewhere between functional and really good depending on the day! My parents are both retired and have their own routines. They’ve always been really supportive of me, but mostly on their own terms. Which, is frustrating at times, but fair enough. They have hopes and dreams for me and just want to steer me in the direction that they think is best.

They have made comments on how I seem much happier now and tell me that I can stay as long as I need (within reason, I think! haha), But I can tell that they are a bit anxious to have their empty house back.

What’s it like living with them on a day-to-day basis?

Day to day it works out well. I get up in the morning, I let my dog out and make sure he’s set for the morning and head to work. I’m gone from about 7:30am-5:30pm (I have an hour commute. Ugh.). While I’m gone, my dad takes my dog for a walk (along with his dog, they’re besties!). When I get home, my mom is usually making dinner. I tend to spend the evening in my room and keep to myself. I’m usually away on the weekends, so they carry on with their days and will keep an eye on my dog for me.

As far as chores go, I help out when needed, but I’m in charge of keeping my space clean. I have “temporary” use of the 2 guest rooms and hall bathroom. “Temporary” means that I can’t decorate anything, or use my own bed spread, or set up my own furniture. I’m still living out of boxes and suitcases and most of my stuff is in a storage unit about 10 miles away.

I’ll occasionally spend time with my parents. Watch TV with them downstairs, or sit and chat. Sometimes they invite me out to events or dinners with them. But mostly we all do our own thing.

My Friends are always welcome to come over and my parents are very accommodating to them. I do have a relatively new boyfriend, who they love and are okay with staying over some weekends. But that’s not ideal when you’re in your 30’s, so it doesn’t happen often.

Do you have an exit strategy?
Right now I’m working as hard as I can to save as much as I can and pay off my credit cards. When I moved, I had just enough money to pay the minimum payments on my bills for a month.

I just managed to surpass my debt with my savings (I’m super pumped about that!)! I already know where I’m going to move, I just have to save up enough to feel 100% secure, which should be sometime in the next few months!

I’m sure going through a serious breakup and moving back across the country is a very, very emotionally challenging experience. How are you taking care of yourself? What are you doing to keep your spirits up?
At first, it was very jarring to be home. I didn’t have any time to mentally prepare myself. I just left my life behind. It was a big adjustment. But I figured it all out (much faster than I thought!). I realized that I hadn’t been very happy in a long time and it was better this way. I felt like myself again, I could smile again, I laughed so hard, I cried. I felt 100% comfortable in my own skin.

Now, I make sure that I see my friends as often as I can, and I try to be there for them when they need me, because while I was gone, I couldn’t do that. I’m spending as much time as I can doing what makes me happy. I have no time for anything else. I’m traveling the world and coming up with exciting things that I want to do with my life. I’m making sure to make good decisions and to have fun.

What advice would you give to anyone else who’s going through something similar?
As far as living with your parents, just do your best to make it work. They are (most likely) doing you a big favor and you need to remember that (I sometimes have trouble).
Also, have a plan, and stick to it. It’s much easier to deal with things when you have a light at the end of the tunnel. Whenever I need a little motivation, I just look at home goods and dream of outfitting my own place someday soon!

Thanks so much for sharing your story, Cait. I’m sure it’s a lot more common than we’d expect. Have any of your guys moved back in with your families as adults?

P.S. What to do when you hate your job + city

20 Comments

katielookingforward

After college I officially moved out, but three years later moved home, its been almost another three years of living with my family and I love it! There are no sleepovers with the opposite sex, but I also don't have a serious boyfriend, so it doesn't bother me. The ability to save/pay off debt is wonderful. I think I'll be moving out this summer, but if I decide to stay up north it will probably be another two years at home, until I have enough saved for a house/house repairs (because I know that's inevitable).

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The Dame Intl

I'm 36 and I live with my mom. We are the only family that we have, both of us are single and both live in a country we didn't grow up in, it makes economical sense for us to live together, why pay two rents when we can get a bigger place together?

A lot of people frown on 30-somethings still living with parents, but not everyone leads the same type of lifestyle or has the same history.

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Kyerin

I come from a slightly different perspective because I'm from Ireland where it's pretty common to live with your parents while at college, or even if you live at college, to come home at weekends. Cait's experience of living with her parents sounds very different from mine. There is no 'doing your own thing' when living with my mother πŸ™‚

I lived on campus during my final year of college, then moved back to do a low-paying internship in my hometown. It made sense to be at home saving money, and also my dad was very ill. When he died, it didn't seem fair to leave my mam in the house by herself while my brother was at college, so i stayed on for a year. And then another year. And then one more year, until she remarried and I moved out.

I didn't really realise at the time but living with my mam was tough. She's not really capable of treating me like an adult so it was a constant stream of questions about what I was doing and I had to text her to let her know I'd arrived places (I was in my mid-twenties!). Also she talks a lot and I need my space, so living apart has been great. It would be really tough for me to live with her again.

A lot of my friends, who are round about the 30 mark, have never moved out. Rental conditions are terrible, the property market is expensive and job security is poor. It's not really a big deal to be living with your parents here at the moment because it's so common πŸ™‚

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Sarah Von Bargen

Interesting perspective! I'm sure she really appreciated all your help with your dad but I'm glad you've found a living situation that's a bit healthier for you πŸ™‚

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kathrynoh

I'm in my 40s and am currently living with my mum. It's a weird situation though because I'd bought the house as an investment property and she moved in so it's actually my house. It's really tough — especially when she does things like supervise me while I'm cooking but I'm going overseas in June so it's worth it.

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The Divine Miss Em

I moved back in with my parents two months after my 30th birthday. I also broke up with a boyfriend I thought I was going to marry. My parents were thrilled to have me back. I'm happy right now. They have a huge house, so I can keep to myself. I can definitely afford to live by myself, but why pay rent & be absolutely miserable living by myself (I've tried it several times and HATE it) when I can stay with them for free?

I don't have a boyfriend & I'm definitely not shopping, so moving isn't in the cards anytime soon. πŸ˜‰

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lifebykristen.com

I lived with my parents from college graduation, through grad school, and into my late 20s until I was married. I didn't intend for it to be that way, but money/life situations presented themselves that it was the best solution for me. With the money I saved while living with them, I was able to buy a house when I was getting ready to get married. Money aside, the experience of living with them as an adult was something that I will treasure because it really formed a solid friendship between the three of us that wasn't there before. I've always been close with my parents, but living with them as an adult gave me a new perspective on who they were as human beings and not just as parents. We talked more freely about life, careers, their youth, their relationships with other family members/their parents, and so on. It truly was an awesome experience for me, even if there were weird moments with dating or trying to maintain some privacy.

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Dara

In my country, it is not uncommon for adults to live with their parents. In most family, there is usually at least one child living with their parents, so they can take care of their parents. It is also common for a married couple to live with the wife or husband's parents. I've always been amazed at how independent western people are. Here in my country, if you go to a uni/college in your hometown, you usually don't need to move out of your parents' house. If you go to a uni/college out of your hometown, you can live temporarily in a dorm, but after you graduate, you will (almost always) have to move back in to your parents' house.

Dara | Hola Darla | @DarlaOct

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Lucy

I moved out of home when I was 19 and swore I’d never go back, I loved my ‘independence’ but my long term relationship ended last year when I was 29 and, needing to get out of a toxic situation, I moved back in with my parents. It’s not ideal but it’s actually a lot better than I thought it would be, we’re a lot more respectful of each other now I’m not a moody teenager πŸ˜‰ I think any negative feelings I had about moving back were actually based on other people’s perceptions of me as a failure. I now mostly feel blessed that I have such loving, supportive parents who have given me a home and the space I needed to get myself together. All the best Cait! x

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Kristina

I am an only child. I had things more then family time. I have lived on my own and she would have me come over allot. My mother is a control freak and if she can’t control a situation she will find any possible way to get her way. My parents bought a split level house so we could live together forever. I will own this house, it’s in my dad’s death will. I’m so controlled by mom in so many ways, it’s just not right. My money, my kids, where I go, who I’m with and they put a tracking device on my phone. I can’t have sex cuz I’m not allowed to meet new people and have them over. I think my mom got some home loan or some kind of loan in my name. I can’t handle this life anymore, I’m 29 years old and can’t get away from her.

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Emily Williams

Just last week my boyfriend of 5 years called it off fairly abruptly. I had to get out of the house we shared and move back in with my parents at the age of 23. I have a steady job now, but had to move back in with my parents so that I can save up a decent amount of money. Obviously this is a new and foggy path I am following at the moment. It is strange having people checking on you all of the time, but comforting! Knowing that this won’t be forever makes it lovely for me. I adore my parents so spending some quality time with them will be precious.

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Annie

I would love to live with my parents. I’m 25 and I find it a constant struggle daily to not be around them. It’s hard being away from home.I try to keep it together because I know that they enjoy being empty nesters and that life is short and they wont be around forever. Therefore, I have to get used to the idea of not living with them. So believe it or not, I actually envy your situation a little bit lol…okay a lot! I visit them, which helps a lot. I’m hoping that over time I am comfortable and make a home away from home.

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Nike

I recently moved back with my parents as well. I am 32 year old single guy and my lease expired a few months back and normally I would never have considered moving back because I thought I would be in a relationship and possibly married. Well, I am still single and I don’t feel bad being single except it is lonely living alone at times. So when my mom suggested I move back I kept saying no until I realized that it’s ok to be single and enjoy life as well. I can certainly afford to live on my own as I make a six figure salary and moving back home just helps me save a little more. But more importantly I have a much better relationship with my parents as an adult as we are able to fully self express and share what’s going on in our lives….something I did not do growing up. It also makes me feel more free knowing that I don’t have a mortgage or any other debt to pay off. I feel more free in my life than ever before. It’s like being a kid with no responsibility but this time making money. It’s nice for me to able to help my parents out with some of their expenses and take care of them. Being single I hope to save enough money and take advantage of my freedom and travel the world and volunteer for a year or two. Something which would be difficult if I was living on my own with a mortgage, car payments and other bills. The time I am getting to spend with my parents in priceless because I know eventually I will move on and be out on my own again. I have greater respect for my parents because now I understand as an adult what they did for me growing up.

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Nancy

I’m 23 this year and I’m still living with my parents. We recently just moved so I had to quit my old job. For the past 2 months now, I’ve been actively looking for a job but with no luck. So basically, I’m living off my paretns as well as living with them. Which is not a very good experience, especially all of my friends on Facebook seem to be so successful with their life.

Anyway, apart from (currently) being unemployed, I don’t plan to move out any time soon, even if I have to commute to the next city to work. It’s maybe I’m too spoiled, having things done for me since I was little, I almost have no survival skills to live on my own. Sometimes I’m being torn between living leisurely, and guiltily, with my parents or manning up and start living like a responsible adult. I guess I have to get a decent job first, save up some money and start from there. But it might take some years…

But all and all, I’m not feeling pressured to move out. Mostly it’s just my conscience and guilt talk, and I think it’s not too important right now.

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sitara

When I was 24 I was extremely immature. I acted mentally more like a 16 year old. I had no job and my boyfriend was my life. It was really sad. I had no idea who I was and I had no dreams or goals. We had been together for 6 years and he was just as immature as I was. I got pregnant and instead of settling down like I wanted and living together he decided to basically tell me, “Ill give you 20 bucks here and there.” From that moment on it has been me and my child. I had my daughter and from that point on (no child support) I saved up $20,000 and me and my aunt (who raised me and I was still living at home with) ended up moving and going in on an investment property together. We made money and are on our last house flip because the market is too high. Even though we both owned these homes and it was my idea to flip houses to begin with when the market went to hell, I am still labeled as someone who still lives at home and has no job. My whole family sees me this way. My married sister thinks horribly of me. She thinks I am trying to short cut on making money just because I don’t have a 9-5. I homeschool my child as well. Now that I have hit 30 I just feel even worse about myself. Its not helping that this final house wont sell. Its been on the market 3x with no sale. I know it will eventually and the same model house in my same neighborhood just sold for the same asking price we wanted so now we have comps to back up our price. I just …I am pretty happy being single 90 percent of the time. The other part of me though feels like I am in a nightmare. Living with the person who raised me this long has been difficult. When I finally get out of this business I don’t know what I will do for money. This has been my job the whole time, working for myself. For some reason being self made isn’t looked upon that greatly. Knowing me I will do something else for myself because that’s just what I do best. My daughter is my life.

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Anonymous

Yeah I’m 31 and live with my parents, I’ll admit it. I read most of the comments here, and although it’s sort of comforting to know that in some other countries it’s more of a norm, in America it’s considered pathetic. The only time I had moved out I only lasted almost 2 years, but that was with other family. Now I’m back in here. For a job I’ve stuck to factory work, which is hardly a secure job choice. It’s also generally very low paying and hard work, but last year they let me take the forklift job and make a little more now and have that as a skill I guess. I still don’t feel very secure though job wise even with that.

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