What It's Really Like To Be 30, Single, And Living At Home

The first time you bring a guy home at 3 a.m. is when it really hits you: It is quite a lifestyle change to go from living alone in a studio in downtown Washington D.C. to living in the basement of a townhouse in Atlanta with a 78-year-old roommate who happens to be your dad. I've readjusted to the good-natured parental nosiness (“Where are you going? What time did you get in?”) and gotten used to new dinner rituals (hot dogs via UberEats for Dad, “that healthy sh*t” for me). I've even learned to tolerate the endless streaming of Fox News. (I'm treating it as a social immersion experiment.) But there are a lot of things no one warns you about living at home when you're 30. 

And having an adult sleepover was a different kind of milestone. On the one hand, it is somewhat awkward to explain to your date that your dad is upstairs. On the other, you feel a bit like a teenager, sneaking around. Maybe that's because I was legitimately sneaking my date out the front door at the way-too-late hour of 1 p.m., while my dad was in the den, watching Fox News in his favorite chair.

“You better go now, unless you want to meet my dad,” I had warned, hours earlier. “Yeah, not today,” he joked. Hardly the ideal meet-the-parents circumstances, so I ushered him out quietly to his Uber and waved goodbye.

So am I part of the boomerang generation? That stereotype of failed millennials living in their parents' basements, jobless and adrift. A whopping 15 percent of 25- to 35-year olds live at home, according to a Pew Research Center study. I check some of those boxes. I'm currently looking for a job, yes. But a failure? Hardly. I left my hometown, went to college and grad school, worked in two competitive industries, and lived on my own. Actually, I consider myself pretty successful -- and quite lucky.

Living at home means I can afford to freelance until I find my permanent gig. It means that I can put any money I make toward paying off my credit card bill instead of into the giant black hole that is rent. And it means that I don't have to sign a lease with random Craigslist roommates who are almost always the worst.

So I would argue that the phenomenon of living at home is really about practicality. Housing prices have made owning a home unaffordable for many of my cohorts, but also undesirable. I have many friends who prefer to rent because it gives them the freedom to move around and disposable income to spend on lifestyle. (More than avocado toast, I assure you.)

And it's not just us singletons. I have two friends who currently live at home: one with her husband because they sold their house and haven't found the next one, and one with her boyfriend in between living in cities abroad. Another one of my friends and her now husband both lived at home for a couple of years which allowed them to save enough money to buy the dream house.

There are other perks than free rent, of course: a housekeeper, premium cable, a stocked fridge, and unlimited wine supply in my case. Plus, my dad sometimes even puppy-sits for me when I go out with friends or on dates, which he encourages me to do. From the beginning, my dad made clear that this is my home, too, and I should feel welcome to have friends (writ large) over. It's not something I've made a habit of, but I'm glad to know it's not forbidden.

Personally, I don't see my living arrangements as a hindrance to my dating life. I've always mentioned it upfront on a first date. TBH, it's kind of a good f*ckboy filter. But don't get me wrong; it's not easy. There have definitely been adjustments on both our parts.

It only took one time for my dad to learn to knock even when he thinks I'm not home. (I was, and also semi-undressed). For his part, my dad has learned to tune out the door chiming at all hours thanks to mine and my puppy's late night and early morning schedules.

And look, I loooved living alone. You never have to clean up someone else's dishes and no one questions what you're doing/eating/watching. But it can also be lonely.

For many of us, our parents are among our best friends. In that regard, they're ideal roommates.

As for me, my dad is recovering from a major back surgery and could use a little help right now with doctor's appointments, groceries, and general technology support. Years from now, I'll be grateful for this time I got to spend with my dad. I'm getting to know him better than I have in years, and that's priceless.

As for the stigma that comes from being 30 and living at home? Fake news.