Ever worried that you’ll be judged because you still live with your parents? Well, the good news is that this stigma should eventually be on the decline: Today, for a variety of reasons, millennials are waiting longer than previous generations before moving out on their own. Whereas people once only remained under their parents’ roofs if they were still in school, now roughly a quarter of stay-at-home millennials aren’t going to school or working.
Every situation is different, and, for some people, there’s no getting around this living arrangement. But could the phenomenon of staying at home longer be robbing millennials of a critical life experience—namely, living on their own?
Discover strengths you didn’t know you had
Research (and lots of real-life experience) suggests we revert to old habits when we’re around people from our past (a phenomenon that CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” lovingly termed “revertigo”). Because of those mental ruts, when your living situation remains the same for so long, are you actually preventing yourself from moving on to the next stages of your life?
Here are a few ways you could benefit from the freedom of living independently:
Strengthen emotional intelligence: No matter how much your family loves you, there are limits to even what they can teach you about the world. To really succeed in life, you need to develop your emotional intelligence. How closely you perceive your own emotions as well as those of the people around you will come to define how you express yourself. Regardless if you’re interacting with a landlord, co-worker or a fellow pedestrian, strong emotional intelligence can enrich all the relationships in your life, and it’s harder to achieve if the range of your living experience is limited your childhood home.
Increase self-knowledge: When you move into your own place, you’ll have to learn to rely on yourself a lot more. By putting yourself in a new, independent context, you’ll be far more equipped to discover who you are outside of your family unit. As hokey as this soul-searching mission may sound, the end result should bring you a greater understanding of who you are, what you want and what you’re capable of achieving in life.
Develop life skills: The educational system might be on top of math, science and language arts, but when it comes to passing on vital life skills to the youth of America, it doesn’t fare as well. That said, living on your own puts you in a situation where you simply cannot help but develop the ability to think and act for yourself. Granted, your parents may have already taught you to be accountable for your own life—doing your own laundry and dishes, making your own meals and managing your finances, for instance—but there is only one surefire way to become truly self-reliant: Just doing it.
Undercut the struggle: The numbers suggest that it’s more difficult for millennials to move out on their own. By making a swift exit from the proverbial nest a priority, you’re doing yourself a long-term favor. Imagine how much broader your experiences will be once you finally take the plunge and move out. It might be a risky move, but to get the most out of life and progress to the next stage of your development, it might be a necessary one. And with a little planning, it might be more possible than you think.
It might be easier than it sounds
Some millennials may be craving their own space but feel as if there’s no way to pull it off. Thankfully, today’s marketplace has become increasingly more accommodating to people who have the opportunity to move out of their childhood homes.
Living with roommates is, of course, the most obvious solution, but other options—such as co-housing—are fast-emerging to present a real opportunity for you to sidestep some of the financial burden. After all, if some of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas are filled with millennials making it, it’s worth at least exploring your options before settling in with mom and dad.
Robert Yaniz Jr. is a full-time freelance writer specializing in business, marketing and entertainment. Over the last 15 years, he has covered everything from the regional business scene to the latest movies and TV shows. You can usually find him—laptop on hand—sipping a latte or chasing after his young daughter. For more on his work, check out robertyanizjr.com or email him directly at [email protected] You can also find him on Twitter @robertyanizjr.