Not just nerds nest with parents

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Playing a video game on a moving cart

Jonas Hrebeniuk

HE STILL KEEPS A STUFFED ANIMAL IN BED AND A PLAYBOY UNDER IT. Sometimes, Mummies and Daddies have to take the initiative and kick their snot-nosed brats to the curb — especially when they are university graduates.

Is mommy still washing your undies?

If she is, you are not alone. A Statistics Canada study published in the September edition of Canadian Social Trends shows young adults are staying at home longer than before.

“In recent years, social scientists have found that the transition to adulthood is taking longer to complete,” the study said. “In 2001, for example, 60 per cent of men and 73 per cent of women aged 25 were no longer living with their parents, compared with 78 per cent of men and 89 per cent of women aged 25 in 1971.”

The study attributed the trend to increased postsecondary enrolment and the associated expenses. Young adults are waiting until they are financially independent to move out.

Brady Martin, a computer systems technician graduate from Fanshawe College, lived with his fiancé in his parents’ house for eight months after he graduated.

He admitted it was difficult at times, but necessary to save money. “It’s an adjustment. [Parents] are always going to give you their opinion and expect you to follow it,” he explained.

But for Martin, it was worth it. “You either have to hold two jobs and work yourself to death or find a cheaper alternative.”

Alejandro Zuluaga, a fourth-year science student, lives on his own, but understands why more young adults are staying with their parents.

“Society is more demanding, social life is more demanding, university is more expensive,” he said.

Economics professor, Jim Davies, said students may be taking longer to grow up because they are spending more time in school. Twenty years ago, many left after their Bachelors, but now most pursue a Master’s or PhD.

For Feras Obeid, a first-year engineering student living at home, the choice was simple. “I did it to save money, it doesn’t necessarily create independence to move away from home.”

But Zuluaga disagreed, “My mom cooks for me and lends me money ... the sense of responsibility goes down.”

“I don’t see it as a negative issue,” Davies said.

Today, parents and children relate to and understand each other more easily than in the past. “If you go back 30 or 40 years, there was a larger generation gap; the two generations are more compatible now than they were,” Davies explained.

Rod Beaujot, a sociology professor, warned this could transfer financial pressure to parents. “Parents are squeezed in various ways, they’re trying to save for their own retirement, trying to pay daily costs and support their child as well.”

Young adults must also prepare for how this will affect their lives. “You have to envisage working later into the 60s if you’re only going to start work at 25,” Beaujot said.

Canada isn’t alone in this trend. “Take Italy, for example. People are still living at home at 45 because the cost of housing is so high,” Davies noted.

Beaujot said living with your parents can be OK, especially since most parents are willing to provide the benefits of living at home without strict rules.

Davies also pointed out it’s much more comfortable to live at home than it was 30 years ago. “Consider people living today in a house that is 30 " 40 per cent bigger with only two kids,” he said.

While living with one’s parents for a short time might help young adults to get a foothold, Martin warns others not to overstay their welcome. “Don’t plan on making it a permanent thing " that’s not healthy.”

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