Welcome to our Gen Y money blog, where a recent grad chronicles her real-life journey to becoming a financially independent adult.
I’d never seriously considered moving back in with my parents – that is, until one of those terribly hot days hit Toronto last summer, a couple of months after my graduation.
Trudging through the humidity after (yet another) job interview, I remember wanting nothing more than the comfort of my parents’ home. All that awaited me at my downtown Toronto apartment was a lack of air conditioning and half a can of chickpeas.
You don’t need to be a money expert to see how moving back in with your parents is one of the easiest financial decisions a new grad can make. Along with expediting the student loan repayment process, the luxuries of home allow a young adult to embark on a career path or re-evaluate their options while indulging in a fully-stocked fridge, enjoying on-site laundry, and so on.
Yet even the fleeting thought of moving back in with my parents was enough to provoke my already panicked post-grad fears. Sure, there was the lure of the luxuries but there were also questions: Was my independence really worth sacrificing? Would I miss out on all the fun in downtown Toronto? Did this make me a “yuckie” (Young Unwittingly Costly Kid)? If I moved back and couldn’t get a job, would I be another classic example of “failure to launch”? What would become of my life?
In my case, the idea of moving home was complicated by my parents’ living situation. I wasn’t worried about how I would live with my parents again – I’m fortunate to have cool parents who have great taste in wine. I was concerned with where I would be living.
Throughout my undergrad, my parents lived in a small Ontario town. While a lovely place to grow up, it wasn’t exactly rich in opportunities to gain industry experience and put me on my career path.
My parents relocated to Calgary the summer of my graduation, and although Calgary certainly has work opportunities, making the move out West would put me in a location where I had zero contacts. When it came to job-hunting, I would have to start from scratch.
Having worked a couple of internships in Toronto while in university, I wanted to capitalize on the little experience I’d gained here. I felt like my real work experience had an expiry date – would it even count two, three years from now?
Toronto was where I had gone to school, established a home, a support network and a handful of career connections. More importantly, it was where companies I wanted to work for were hiring. Setting my sights on Toronto, I appealed to my parents, who agreed to loan me enough to cover rent and basic living expenses until I was able to get on my feet.
After a few more perilous months of job searching, I got a job, an opportunity that allowed me to stay in the city - and pay my own way.
I now live in a two-bedroom downtown apartment, where my roommate and I split rent, utilities and Internet. Although money is tight, I can afford it. Rent and utilities eat up 33 per cent of my annual income. The remaining 67 per cent is divided between student loan repayment, transportation and other basic living costs. The only expense my parents help me out with is my phone bill (and the occasional trip to Costco when they’re in town).
As a witness to several of my friends’ return-to-the-nest success stories, I’m very aware that my choices have me saving at a glacial pace in comparison to how much they are socking away. The decision to not move in with my parents comes with its frustrations, but it also has its advantages.
Staying in the city has allowed me to establish and grow a network of career contacts. I’m happy that I wake up every day in an environment that doesn’t remind me of my sixteen year-old self (okay, minus that one Leonardo DiCaprio poster). I feel satisfied when I accomplish something thoroughly “grown up,” like filling out my employee benefits paperwork or having coffee with a career mentor.
For now, moving back in with my parents is something I’d like avoid, but ask me again when the humidity kicks in.
Follow Victoria Hoffman on Twitter: @victoriahoffman