mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Friday, November 03, 2006

When to leave the nest?

There is a really interesting discussion going on on the finance section of Fatwallet about when to move out of the parent's house. I made a post in it early on in the discussion, but haven't since. It's an interesting topic though, and posts in there seem to range from "move out as soon as possible or you will never get laid" to "kids who live with their parents are leeches and parents who let/want their kids to live at home are needy enablers" to "if you and your parents are cool with it, why not?".

It's a topic that resonates with me because it was something I went through. I grew up in NJ but went to college in Baltimore, and wanted to stay their after college. I spent summers before sophmore and junior year at the 'rents, but spent the summer before senior year at school. I made it clear to my parents that I wanted to stay in Baltimore, and they made it clear that they thought I was nuts. So at least we understood each other.

End result was I stayed a few months after graduation, ended up moving back to NJ for six months, and then found out about an opening at the college I graduated from. Got the job, moved back to Maryland (and on my own) and have rarely looked back since.

What makes it interesting for me is that my older brother took the opposite path. He moved back in with the 'rents after college, and didn't move out until a couple months ago - after living at home for nearly ten years.

I think the reason my parents couldn't understand why I wanted to move out was partly generational and partly cultural. My dad is Italian, and my mom is half Italian, and it seems pretty common in Italy as well as in the 1st/2nd generation families they were raised in that kids live at home until they are married - that's what both of my parents did. My aunt never married, and lived at home until her parents died - and then inherited and stayed in the house.

I don't think there is anything wrong with living at home - if I hadn't gotten the job I did, I probably would have stayed there for a while. You lose privacy, but at the same time it's hard to justify paying rent to live near your parents (and missing out on home cooking). If you are trying to save for a house, not having to pay rent can definitly help. And I don't really see it as freeloading if your parents are willing to let you live rent-free- it's not like your parents would be renting the room to someone else if you moved out, so the only costs are the marginal costs (extra food, electricity, ect).

But I wonder if there is a flip side - if having to pay rent and buy your own food forces you to be more frugal than if you live with the parents. My brother and I both settled on our first houses within a month of each other - even though he's four years older than me, and even though I was paying rent for the last 3.5 years. Part of that may be income - I worked a ton of overtime for a 3-year period, and I dabble on eBay - and part may just be that I'm naturally frugal. But part of it was decisions I made - his last two cars were a Suburban and an Expedition, mine were a PT Cruiser and a Ranger. When you are paying rent every month, you have to be more careful with your budget. You also get more of that sense of "I have to save enough to buy a house ASAP, because right now a significant chunk of my salary is going to rent, and I'd rather be building equity".

There has been a lot of ink spilled about the boomerang generation, about people moving back with the 'rents after college. I don't think this is as uncommon as people have made it out to be - I think it's been common in a lot of immigrant cultures, and is still common with Asians and others. But there are a lot of factors that make it common these days - student loan debt, high housing prices, people marrying later. Buying a house on one income these days can be difficult - I would know - so living with the 'rents is often the financial boost that people need.

So even though I was out the door at 22, if the parents and the kid is cool with it, I see no problem with it.

And as far as the whole "chicks don't dig guys who live with their parents", lets just say that MadAnthony having his own place doesn't seem to have helped his game. Having your own place may be a necessary condition to getting laid, but not a sufficient condition.


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