Skip to main content

Linda and James Matsalla posing with their youngest of five daughters, Jaedyn. Many young adults such as Ms. Matsalla have temporarily moved home to wait out the pandemic.handout

Jaedyn Matsalla was at a trade show in Spain in February when she first became fearful of the novel coronavirus.

People were coughing, health warnings were all over local newscasts and the number of cases in Europe was growing daily. The 24-year-old was two years into a marketing job with a fibre-optic company that required her to travel and meet with strangers frequently. She figured it would just be a matter of time before she caught COVID-19 herself, so she left her home in Stuttgart, where her company is based, and moved back to Saskatoon to live with her parents.

Ms. Matsalla, who stayed at the same job, now wakes up in the middle of the night to keep her schedule synchronized with those of her colleagues, but being chased back home by a global health crisis also has its benefits. Food is free; cooking and yoga with her mother, and movie nights with her father have become commonplace. Through it all, the family has grown closer.

“Having our daughter back was sort of like a pandemic bonus,” said Ms. Matsalla’s mother, Linda.

Many young adults such as Ms. Matsalla have temporarily moved home to wait out the pandemic, looking for financial stability in a labour market that has lost approximately three million jobs since February.

A Canadian study found that 44 per cent of millennials already dealt with precarious work conditions such as contract work and unpredictable incomes before the pandemic. Arif Jetha, a scientist at Toronto’s Institute for Work & Health, suspects that those who work such jobs will be most affected by COVID-19 lockdowns.

“New data is limited since the pandemic,” he said, “but in my eyes, [the pandemic] has reinforced inequities that exist in the labour market, and young people are a group that has generally been vulnerable."

A 2016 Statistics Canada census found that more than one-third of adults aged 20 to 34 lived with at least one parent. Dr. Jetha said he understands how that trend could be exacerbated by the coronavirus: “It makes sense for those who have that privilege to move back home and save money while they can.”

Stephen Andersen, 24, left his place in Ottawa and moved back to his parents’ house in Burlington, Ont., on March 19. At home, he is still working at his job as a youth policy analyst at Environment Canada, but at the same time, he is saving up for the future by cutting food and internet expenses.

27-year-old Melissa Iarusso left downtown Toronto in mid-March and, along with her twin as well as her older sister, moved back in with her parents in LaSalle, Ont.handout

He said it’s harder to find work motivation while staying with his parents, but adds that “the reduced cost of living makes it worth it."

Mr. Andersen continues to pay rent in Ottawa and plans to return there eventually. Meanwhile, he is using his time at home to reconnect with his family.

“I haven’t spent this much time at home in six years," he said, “but it’s nice to be with them every day. I’ve introduced them to The Crown, and we play a ton of board games.”

For Melissa Iarusso, moving home was less about saving money and more about strengthening family ties. The 27-year-old public strategy and communications consultant left downtown Toronto in mid-March and, along with her twin as well as her older sister, moved back in with her parents in LaSalle, Ont.

“It’s weird to say but we probably never would have had this chance to be together this long if it wasn’t for the pandemic,” she said. “We had not all lived as a family for this long in over 10 years.”

The Iarussos have made up for lost time by diving into Netflix’s Tiger King together. Ms. Iarusso and her sisters have taken up some of their parents’ hobbies: Their father leads painting and sculpting classes, and their mother has cooking nights where each family member gets to show off their skills.

When the time comes, saying goodbye to these new routines and parting ways will be difficult for the entire family, they say. The sisters continue to pay rent at their Toronto apartments but are in no immediate rush to go back to the city.

“Spending this time, the five of us together, has been really, really special,” Ms. Iarusso said. “In a sense it will be weird to leave.”

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters and editors.