My Life as a Boomerang
By. Kevin Priddle
Just two months after my 18th birthday I flew out of my parent’s house, off into the wilds to explore the world on my own terms and to take that post-secondary right of passage like so many others in my generation.
Since then (and in no particular order) I lived in two major Ontario municipalities, moved ten times, shared a house with nine (male) roommates, held a mix of part-time jobs, moved in with a girlfriend, moved out from said girlfriend’s, backpacked across Europe, and invested in my education by finishing a bachelor’s degree and college diploma.
Six years later I started to spin back towards my roots and in May 2012 I moved back into my childhood home. But life as a boomerang really ain’t so bad.
The ‘Boomerang’ effect
In September, The Globe and Mail published an article that examined the growing ‘boomerang’ trend of kids leaving home only to return a few years later to rely on the support of their parents. As The Globe puts it “Canada’s nests aren’t quite as empty as they’re supposed to be.”
A 2011 census shows that about 42.3 per cent of young adults aged 20-29 are living with their parents – a slight drop from the 2006 total 42.5 per cent in 2006 – but still a major spike from the number of ‘twenty-somethings’ living at home 30 years ago, which sat at only 26.9 per cent in 1981.
In Toronto that number jumps 56.3 per cent, and in the Greater Toronto Area municipalities (my hood) the percentage of young adults 20-29 living in their family homes skyrockets to a staggering 75 per cent or more.
My Life as a Boomerang
At 24 years old I fit snug and tight into that 75th percentile that live at home with Ma and Pops (and lil’ bro plus feline) in the ‘picturesque’ land of GTA suburbia – and I’m one of the lucky ones!
Lucky in that I was able to land my first “real-world” job just about a month after graduating and a month after moving back home. Now many of you might be thinking, “Well great! When are you moving out then?” Truth be told… not any time soon.
Like many post-secondary graduates today I came out of my six years away from home with a hefty bill for my education. A Statistics Canada report found that well over half of students graduate with some form of debt, the percentage of those graduating with debt loads greater than $25,000 rose from 17 per cent in 1995 to 27 per cent in 2005.
With my four years of university followed up by a year of college (which is the year that landed me my job) the price tag on my education rang in a few thousand above that $25,000-marker. In the long run, studies show that that black mark of debt will decrease my chances of owning a home, will make me less likely to have savings and investments, and my overall wealth will be significantly lower than my colleagues that didn’t have to borrow to finance their education – in the short term it means I have to live with my parents (no offence to my folks!)
Sure I could have lived at home and commuted to a university closer to home instead of trekking off to Guelph and Sudbury. I have friends who took this route and are now ‘living it up’ in the big city (where I really want to be), but I don’t think I would have changed a thing I did.
I got that experience of independence early and I think it taught me a lot about myself and how to be ‘grown up’. I met some of my life-long best friends during my time away at school and have memories and experiences that have shaped the very core of my person – experiences I likely wouldn’t have got if I didn’t jet out of my hometown after high school.
My education landed me a decent job, and if I save smart and pay off my loan in a responsible time frame (hopefully faster than the standard 10 years) then I should be able to afford moving out long before I reach the edge of that 20 to 29 year-old group.
Sure, no one really wants to move home with their parents after they’ve lived on their own. It’s an adjustment to have a watchful eye on where/when you go out and come home (very late), your childhood bedroom doesn’t afford the same privacy you had on your own (no more walking around in your underwear and increased complexity for dating), you’re re-introduced to ‘chores’ that had long faded from your mind, and forget cranking your stereo to 11 to blast that new electro dance album any time after 10 p.m.
But really, I think the positives win out against anything listed above: it’s nice spending time with family again and getting to talk more often than through email and the few staggered trips home every couple of months, I ‘m lucky enough to not have to worry about paying for Internet, utilities or rent, and refrigerators are magically* full/dinners always seem to be on the table when living at home – not to mention I’ll get a great head start on paying down my student debt.
I’m still buying my lottery tickets each week, but after thinking about it a bit deeper… living at home post post-secondary really ain’t so bad.
I like my life as a boomerang.
*Thanks Mom and Dad