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Why this young fintech entrepreneur lives with his parents

Omeed Asadi, a 26-year-old entrepreneur who runs SherpaTax, poses in his bedroom in Toronto on Thursday March 30, 2017.

Mark Blinch/Globe and Mail

Omeed Asadi is a 26-year-old fintech entrepreneur who lives with his parents.

"I would not be able to be an entrepreneur if I wasn't living at home," Mr. Asadi says. "It would straight up never work."

The phenomenon of young adults living with their parents got a lot of attention back in the last recession, and the trend hasn't gone away. In fact, it has new legs in cities such as Toronto and Vancouver, where renting a place or owning are both hyper-expensive. Mr. Asadi's story shows how living at home as a millennial isn't just a stopgap. It can also be a strategic move for both financial and career reasons.

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Mr. Asadi is the founder of Sherpa.Tax, a website that helps people find out all the tax breaks they're entitled to. It's one of those concepts that makes you wonder why no one thought of it before. Mr. Asadi says more than 71,000 people have used the free service since it was introduced early last year.

Read also: Reformed millennial spendthrift tackles mortgage and saves for wedding

After graduating with a BA in communications from York University in 2012, Mr. Asadi worked in marketing for Tim Hortons for a couple of years. He was laid off following Burger King's purchase of the company and decided then to pursue his Sherpa.Tax idea.

Drawing just a token salary and relying on savings, the only way to make his finances work is to live at home.

"If I had to spend money on rent plus transit costs plus food costs, there would be nothing left," he said.

Mr. Asadi and two associates have put money in Sherpa.Tax, and the venture attracted an investment from a person who heard about it when Mr. Asadi was interviewed on CBC radio. Sherpa.Tax isn't generating any revenue yet, never mind profit. But there are plans to sell advertising and license "white label" versions of the technology to other websites.

The business plan suggests Mr. Asadi will be living at home for a while yet. How does he make it work? Having understanding parents helps. "We have a very family-oriented culture," he said of his Iranian background. "There's no stigma about this."

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Mr. Asadi pays no rent, but he covers some of his grocery costs and does errands and chores such as shovelling snow all winter. In some ways, it's a sweet deal. "I'm privileged, although I really looked at it negatively for a while. You have these visions of where you want to be in your 20s. I expected to be at a different stage."

There's still a lingering sense that millennials living at home are in a state of interrupted adulthood. But living at home in your 20s is part of the new normal. Data for Canada and the United States shows that roughly 40 per cent of millennials live at home. That latest U.S. number came in at the highest level since 1940.

There are some indignities for millennials living at home. For example, questions from well-meaning parents about what you're doing, where you're going and with whom. There's also the issue of friends and siblings moving on with their lives while you're still home. Mr. Asadi said he has moved into a larger bedroom vacated by a sister who moved away for school and then found work.

But living at home is also a way to lower expenses so you can save money to further your education, travel or buy a house. Or, create your own job like Mr. Asadi. He says he'd need full-time employment if he wasn't able to live at home, and that would relegate Sherpa.Tax to evenings and weekends. As it is now, he's spending long hours every day on the business side of his venture and keeping the website in good order.

Mr. Asadi used to be envious of friends who moved out, but now he sees the advantages of living at home. At the same time, his friends who have moved out are struggling in some cases with contract work, stagnant income and rising rental costs.

"Things have kind of taken a turn," he said. "The friends who moved out earlier are envious of me now. They say, man, how much money are you saving at home?"

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