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What It's Really Like To Be 26 & Still Live With Mom & Dad

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    It isn’t news that millennials are regularly criticized by the media for all our many shortcomings. We’re lazy, we’re self-centered — and in recent years, we’ve been given the unflattering nickname "the Boomerang Generation." This is because instead of shacking up and/or getting married, we’re choosing to move home (or maybe we never even left) to live with (off?) our parents.

    In May, nearly every major news organization reported a new study by Pew Social Trends that found 32.1% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 are now living in their parents’ home, making this the most common living arrangement for millennials. Perhaps more surprising is that in 1960, just 20% of young people still lived with their parents. In that so-called golden age of independence, it was much more likely (62%) that a young person would be cohabitating with a spouse or partner in their own home. Today, with people marrying later and later (or not at all), only 31.6% are living with their partners; another 14% live alone, are a single parent, or have one or more roommates. The remaining 22% live in the home of another family member, a non-relative, or in group quarters (this includes dorms as well as jails).

    The data is surprising. If you think about all of your friends, are the majority living with a roommate or partner, or with their parents? Living at home in your 20s doesn’t seem like the norm, yet according to Pew, if you do still call your folks' place home, you’re far from alone. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to shake the stigma — the idea that moving back into your childhood bedroom is a really bad thing. Just because you're living with your parents doesn't mean you’re selfish or unemployable or have “failed to launch.”

    We wanted to dig a little deeper and find out the real stories behind the data. So we talked to four millennial women in the New York City region to find out why they live at home. What we found won’t surprise most of you. These women are busy developing their careers, paying off loans, building emergency funds, and traveling the world with the money they save by staying with their parents. We wouldn't describe any of these women as lazy; you could even argue that they are financially smarter than the rest of us who pay exorbitant rent every month.

    Ahead, interviews and photos with millennial women who are redefining what it means to move home — and proving, once again, that this generation can’t be held back by sensational headlines, overly critical talking heads, or faceless analytical research. Every single millennial woman is unique; here are just four stories.

    Moving is the worst. And the best. It can signal a fresh start or a devastating end. Whatever your style, wherever you settle, at the end of day, the most important thing is you find a place to call home. Check out more from our Get The F Out moving package here.



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    Charlotte Japp, 25
    Lives with her parents and brother on the Upper West Side


    Many recent grads moving to New York City want to live on the Lower East Side or in Brooklyn, but Charlotte Japp opted for a more quiet location: her parents' four-bedroom, two-bath apartment on the Upper West Side. She’s moved back into her teenage bedroom, the former au pair’s room off the kitchen. It’s a small space, but she gets her own bathroom and a bit more privacy from the other bedrooms, which are located at the other end of the apartment.

    The privacy is necessary, since the apartment can get quite full. Along with her parents and her brother (who also moved home after college), Charlotte’s boyfriend visits on the weekends when he has time off from the Navy, and her sister is often home during summer and winter breaks from college. That can mean up to six people in the apartment at once. Plus, her parents also work from home, which means the dining room table doubles as office space, and anyone in the family might be called upon to perform receptionist duties when the phone rings.

    Charlotte thinks that one of the reasons that her family is so close is because her parents are immigrants from Europe, and there’s no brood of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins close by. It’s a good thing that Charlotte likes the closeness; she also works (and commutes!) with her brother to their jobs at Vice every day.

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    How long have you lived at home? "Three years, since I graduated from college."

    What made you decide to move home? "Manhattan is expensive, and college is expensive. It made no sense to move out when my parents have a place in the city, and I have loans to pay off."

    Do your parents charge you rent? "No."

    What's the best part of living at home? "It's pretty sweet having the most enviable leftovers in the office, but I love having cool parents to hang out with in NYC's best neighborhood."

    What's the worst part? "I'm really lucky to live in Manhattan, but most of my friends live in other neighborhoods, and I miss out on spontaneous hangs."

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    How long is your commute to work? "45-60 minutes (I work in Williamsburg, so I commute by car.)"

    Do you have student loans? "Yes."

    Do your friends feel comfortable visiting you at home? Do you feel comfortable having them over? "My friends don't always want to make the trek up to the Upper West Side from downtown or Brooklyn, but when they do, the amenities make it worth the journey."

    Would you prefer to live in your own apartment? "I go back and forth. The freedom and independence is super appealing, but it still feels like an unnecessary expense right now."

    What is the most common misconception you encounter when people learn you live at home? "They assume that my parents are rich, and that I'm lazy. But really, I'm just paying off student loans."

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    Is it harder to have romantic relationships living at home?
    "It's hard to date casually, but living at home can actually accelerate a relationship."

    How has it changed your relationship with your parents?
    "I think living at home has brought me closer to my parents and allowed them to understand me as an adult."

    Are you living in your childhood bedroom?
    "I'm living in the same room that I moved into at 14. The only update was building a shelving unit to hold all the extra crap that I have accumulated since high school."

    Do you have any plans to move out?
    "Never! Just kidding."

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    Fiona Wu , 26
    Lives with her parents and older brother in Brooklyn

    For Fiona Wu, moving back home after college was a no-brainer. As the daughter of Chinese immigrants, Wu says it was expected she would live at home until she was ready to start a household of her own, she says. Today, Fiona lives with her parents and older brother in Brooklyn in a two-story home built in the 1930s, which her parents co-own with her aunt and uncle.

    Fiona’s family occupies the top floor of the house, and her aunt and uncle live below. There is even more extended family nearby — Fiona remembers the huge dinners her parents hosted when she was growing up, with tables lining the basement in such a way to ensure that everyone got a spot.

    While her parents definitely emphasized the importance of home ownership, they’ve also encouraged her love of travel. The house is decorated with family photos taken around the globe, and Fiona is extremely proud of her fridge, which documents many of her adventures. “Vacations allow everyone to be their authentic selves,” she says.