Is it better to live at home and deal with parents or live on your own and struggle to pay the bills? My friend Alex and I reveal the highs and lows of our post-college living situations. No matter how many years since you finished school, where you live is a huge financial decision that impacts day to day spending – and saving.
Did you move back home after graduating from college?
Dacia – Living at Home (in her own words)
Rent – $0
Roommates – Dad, Stepmom, 16 year-old brother, and my twin sister are my live-in roommates. Two nights a week my four year-old nephew is also a roommate as he sleeps over every Monday and Wednesday. Definitely a different dynamic from living with my three best friends during college.
Privacy – Just like all my bills, privacy is also zero in my house. During the day I usually have the house to myself between the hours of 10-2 (Thank God!) but anytime before or after that I am surrounded by people. This includes weekends when my long-distance boyfriend visits. The chance of us getting any alone time while at my house is a big fat zero.
Curfew – My dad would tell you I don’t have a curfew. I however would tell you that I do. If I come home from being out after around 11 p.m. on a weekday or 1:30 a.m. on a weekend there will be consequences. While I’m past the point where I can be “grounded” that does not mean I won’t have to listen to a 20-minute lecture about the value of sleep from my dad the next day.
High School Rules – While I am now 22 years old and graduated from college the rules for “having boys over” have not changed since high school. Boys are not allowed in my room and my boyfriend is not allowed upstairs. He has to sleep in the downstairs guest room (that doesn’t have a door) and if he wants to put his stuff in my room (ya know so not everyone has access to his valuables i.e. his laptop) I have to bring it there myself.
No Money No Problems – Long gone are the days (that actually were only a few moths ago) where the fridge was always empty and Mac and cheese was considered a gourmet dinner. There’s always food in the house and starvation is never an issue. My Dad also supplies me with a credit card that he pays with a limit of $300 a month. While it’s main purpose is to cover errands that I run for the family and emergencies, I usually end up with at least $100 to spend on fun things like clothes or makeup.
Responsibilities: Babysitter, Chauffer, Chef – I’m very lucky that I don’t have to pay for rent, groceries, bills, anything at all really but living at home doesn’t come without a price. I am now the on- call babysitter, chauffer, and chef. Dad doesn’t feel like cooking? Brother is stranded at the movies, school, bowling or an hour away? Nephew needs to be watched? Well those are my jobs if need be. It ends up being about 15-20 hours of week of responsibilities, so basically a part-time job.
Laundry, Dishes, Cleaning…Done! – I’m lucky that my Dad has a housekeeper that comes once a week so the chores I hated most while living at school (cleaning the bathroom, mopping the floor, and vacuuming) are no longer my responsibility. My Dad will do the dishes if I cook and he still does almost all of my laundry. Living the no chores life is pretty great…Thanks Dad!
Amenities – My dad’s house has a giant heated in-ground pool that I took full advantage of all summer. We also have two big screen TVs with every cable channel you could think of. I have my own room with a cable TV, King Sized Bed, and three closets.
Alex – Living on My Own (in her own words)
Rent – $600
Roommates – Boyfriend
Privacy – Privacy is still an issue living away from home. While I don’t have to deal with my parents or other adults, there are plenty of times where I feel I don’t have any privacy. Friends and siblings are constantly coming over to get away from parents and their homes. Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a frat house with all my boyfriend’s friends coming and going.
Curfew – The only curfew I have is set by me. I can stay out as late as I want whenever I want, but since I work full-time I definitely head to bed earlier than I did in college.
Independence – I would never want to move back home because now that I have been on my own I feel more grownup. I have always enjoyed being on my own as a child. When I was 10 years old my parents created a room in our basement for me, so I could have my “own space” and when we moved to Rhode Island, my room was above the garage, separated from the rest of house. Moving back home would allow me to save money, but for me I would rather feel a bit stressed or strapped for money before I would move back home.
No Money…Ever – Making sure I budget my money properly, especially when it comes to wants and needs, has become difficult. I need to decide whether I want a new shirt or whether I need food. Also recently, I have begun a job that pays bi-weekly instead of weekly. Therefore, I get paid about two times a month. For each paycheck I have to make sure I have enough money for rent, utilities, and bills. Whatever money is left after those expenses are paid is left for groceries, social actives, holidays/birthday, and savings. Since I have moved to a location with higher rent, I have found it more difficult to save money even with excluding social activities for a week or two.
Responsibilities: Cleaning, Cooking, Laundry – Being on my own has forced me to do my own laundry, cleaning, and cooking. All of these would have been done at home for me while I was living there. I cannot complain because these activities are a part of growing up and the learning to live on your own process.
Gwen H. says
Try to live on your own with a few paying sane room mates.
Bargain Babe says
@Gwen H Good suggestion. Dacia, what do you think?
I think that most college kids live at home after graduating. It’s a way to save money for the future….perhaps buying a home. Paying rent isn’t an investment in anything it’s really just throwing money away and I believe that if parents allow it, living at home is a kids best bet.
Dacia Daly says
I did live on my own during college with my sister and two best friends as roommates. We all split the bills and while I’m not sure you could call us “sane” we did get along great. While it was a lot of fun I didn’t ever have money. Since I’m living in Rhode Island and only working part-time I think the best decision for me would be to live at home and save money. I’m lucky because my living situation and family are awesome. So thanks for the advice but I’ll be waiting just a little longer to move out. When I do though roommates will be a must!
I’m not sure Dacia’s experience is typical. Housekeeper, an allowance, and three closets?! Your parent does your laundry for you?! I think the $0 rent/groceries is the only perk most people can expect from living at home. The other things are serious luxuries and Dacia is very lucky.
Dacia Daly says
I definitely agree with you Amy. I am very lucky! While this is very typical for the college grads in my town I know that it’s not the same everywhere. This article was mainly to highlight that living at home isn’t as bad for us recent college grads as some may think! I know that my income could not provide me with as comfortable a living situation as my parents do and I bet many other recent grads would agree that the same is true for them. Just thinking about paying for rent and groceries alone is enough to keep me home for a little longer!
Steven Cooper says
You could do what I did. Instead of renting I bought my own 4-plex. My renters pay my mortgage and I don’t have to live with mom and dad. After 3 years of owning it now I have over $50,000 in equity. I bought at a good time and the value of properties has gone up a bit.
Dacia Daly says
@Steven It sounds like you made a great decision. I would love to find a way to invest in property. I’m not sure if I’d be able to afford a property like you have described. I’m definitely going to look into buying property instead of renting. Thanks for the tip!