Never in a million years did I think, as a young professional, I’d resort to this. Best case, it’s an embarrassing happy hour conversation. At the worst, it’s a scarlet letter tattooed into my morning commute and home address. But I can’t complain – I signed up for it willingly.
Consider this a confession: I just did the most entitled, freeloading millennial thing I could possibly do. I moved from my downtown DC apartment into the basement of my mom’s home in the suburbs.
But Kay, Why?!
Ultimately, it’s not because I don’t get paid a livable wage, or because I failed Adulting 101 and couldn’t take care of myself. I didn’t decide to move home for home-cooked meals or free cable. And although it’s nice to spend time with my family and our pets, I definitely didn’t move to be with them 24/7.
Though it might sound counter-intuitive, I ultimately moved home for my freedom.
We talk a lot about freedom here, and it’s something that’s core to Jetfarer’s mission as well as my own personal philosophy. The idea is simple: I travel to free myself from the exhausting routine of my job and daily life.
Upon moving to DC, I realized that a higher cost of living and higher taxes stifled my ability to travel like that. After a few months, I realized that paying sky-high rent in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in DC wasn’t in line with my goals of seeing the world. In my frustration, it somehow slipped my mind that the entire reason why I took this job in the first place was to be able to afford to travel. I forgot how much I valued my freedom.
I had some choices to make.
When I was first considering moving home, it was at a time when many things in my life – career, finances, and future plans included – were a bit uncertain. What tipped the scales for me, and ultimately led me to pass off my apartment, was that when things got tough in my job or personal life, I could no longer afford to use travel as an escape.
I felt trapped.
The Rent Was Too Damn High
The median rent for an apartment in DC is over $2,000 a month, not including utilities. My apartment’s rent, a shared 2 bedroom, fell well under that, at $1,275 a month. In Houston, for comparison, my monthly rent was only $750. As you can imagine, almost doubling my rent when I took a significant pay cut for my new job caused an incredible amount of financial strain, especially with my monthly student loan payments. I could have sucked it up, and put no money in savings, but I quickly realized that no apartment or job was worth the sacrifice of the thing I love most in the world – travel.
Moving hasn’t been glamorous. It’s hard work. Initially, my new bedroom in my mom’s basement didn’t have floors, and the walls were painted a hideous shade of yellow. I spent my holidays back in December painting and flooring the room, fixing the light fixtures and the bathroom, and ordering and assembling new furniture. At night, I’d spend hours redoing my financial budget to figure out how much I could now save each month, and how long it would take to reach my savings goals.
And, while I’ll be paying more in transportation costs due to my morning commute, the savings I’ll be able to put away will be more than worth it.
It’s All About Priorities
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – every decision boils down to priorities. Although my morning commute into DC will be a huge pain, and I won’t have a glamorous apartment to host friends, I’ll be saving $1275 a month. More importantly, I can make big life decisions, like accepting a new job offer or taking a career break, without being bogged down by getting out of a lease contract.
I recognize not everyone has the luxury of moving back in with family. In that regard, I’m really, really lucky. I have a family that not only lives in the same city as me, but that’s also willing to take me in at a moment’s notice. And, although I’ll continue to work and help pay off household expenses and utilities here, I’m thankful that they aren’t charging me $1,275 a month to live at home.
Of course, I’ll miss living on my own. I love my mom, but I still want to hang out with my friends and go out to impromptu happy hours with my colleagues, too. I don’t want to be a “freeloading, selfish, entitled” millennial. I want to feel like an adult. But ultimately, I felt that staying in my apartment would continue to cost me my freedom and happiness, and I would have to continue hemorrhaging money for rent at the expense of my passion for travel.
And that’s just not a sacrifice I’m willing to make.
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What do you think about moving home with your parents? Am I truly the “entitled, freeloading millennial” that I deny being? Or do you think I made the right choice?
Share your thoughts here or join the discussion on our Facebook group!
In the next few months, I’ll be continuing to take various steps toward achieving my goals of being a) more mobile and b) more location independent. As always, I’ll use this Wednesday Real Talk column to discuss some things I’ve observed, my frustrations, or my successes.