Michael Rotondo made headlines earlier this summer after the 30-year-old was evicted from his childhood home by his parents, in a story seemingly wished into existence by the collective id of the AARP. The figure of a bearded, long-haired millennial with no job, a jalopy of a Volkswagen and the inability to pay rent conformed so closely to the lazy stereotypes of young adults living with their parents that it surely caused pangs of embarrassment to the millennials who continue to do so.
The stigma against living with Mom and Dad well past college is a fact of life, but it's one that continues to fly in the face of a growing trend. While plenty of millennials living at home may stay in their pajamas and watch HGTV all day, savvy homesteaders take advantage of the unique opportunities afforded by the living situation to get a leg up on adulthood.
With the average student loan debt across the U.S. topping $32,731, the financial pressures on young workers are more taxing than ever. Even if you don't have any student loans to pay off, the price of housing has outpaced what Americans see on their paychecks since the Great Recession, a fact that would cause anyone to take a second look at free shelter.
Living at home frees up a significant amount of income you earn for paying your student loans, assuming your parents don't charge rent. The trick is to not spend that money on luxuries and entertainment that will keep you firmly in the grips of debt. Budgeting apps such as Mint can help you stick to your saving goals by reminding you just how much that splurge will set you back, so consider using your smartphone to save yourself money for once.
Just because you're bunking in your childhood bed doesn't mean you have to stop growing as a person. In fact, living rent-free at home provides one of the best opportunities to take on some additional training or education to make you that much more competitive when you're ready to go after that dream job (or any job that gets you living on your own). Your bachelor's degree in English may make you absolute fire when it comes to discussing the latest season of The Handmaid's Tale, but taking some night classes at the local community college on coding will make for a much more impressive resume.
Even if you're convinced you have all of the technical skills you need to conquer your career field, you shouldn't overlook the value of broadening your horizons with a new skill or hobby. Study after study has shown that people who engage in creative activities in their spare time are generally happier and less stressed-out.
Living with your parents as an adult can serve as either a launch pad to independence or a quagmire of arrested development, depending on your attitude and initiative. The most important step you can take to ensure your time at home isn't a negative experience is planning how you'll eventually move out on your own. Start calculating how much money you'll need to live on your own, how you can earn that income and how much time you'll need to sort out your career and finances. Don't freak out if you experience unforeseen setbacks, but try to always make forward progress toward your independence day.