So there’s this stereotype that goes something like this: 30 year old guy – it’s usually a guy – living in his parents’ basement because a) he is a dependent, lazy momma’s boy and/or b) he’s just plain lazy. He plays WoW religiously, browses forums all day and posts vlogs about his “awesome” life and his not-so-crazy-more-like-mundane observations about things around him. In his Youtube videos, his mom usually interrupts him by yelling down the stairs in a redneck accent “Whaddya’ want for dinner, Billy?” The guy will scowl and sigh resignedly at the camera, embarrassed, and then yell back “Ma, I told you not to interrupt me when I’m working… I’ll have the mac ‘n cheese…”
That’s what everyone wants to be when they grow up, right? Yeah?
Well, it is a stereotype and in true stereotype fashion, it is generally an exaggeration. Sure, I have no doubt that there are people out there like that and hey, I don’t judge. To each their own. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and all that jazz. Most high school grads, even if they are not completely confident at first, seem to strive to live independently sometime in their lives, preferably in the near future. It’s all about leaving mom and dads’ jurisdiction ASAP. No curfew, no supervision, no rules. Without mom and dad around to bark orders and crack down on their stupid rules, life will be awesome. Break out the bong and the booze. It’s party time.
Again, this is stereotypical; it’s hypothetical and it’s exaggerated, much like the stereotype of the 30 year old mamma’s boy. Not everyone does this and unless you’re someone whose knowledge of college life is solely derived from the tomfoolery of American Pie, The House Bunny, Animal House and other asinine/hilarious college movies, I don’t need to tell you that.
With the cost of living increasing every year, including the fact that we are still in a recession, living on your own seems like more and more of a daunting idea. Sure, you get more freedom (I got a Braveheart moment there), but at what cost? One of my teachers once joked: “The best thing about being 18 is that you can do whatever you want and nobody’ll care. The worst thing about being 18 is that you can do whatever you want and nobody’ll care.” Nobody will care. At 18, you’re legally an adult. Heck, even I’m still getting used to that idea. At 18, moving out is almost a rite of passage in our society. As new adults, we get to embark on the journey that is our own, independent life, where we get to make our own money, pay our own bills, live in our own house/apartment/condo/mansion/trailer, pay our own taxes, etc.
But that’s where I stop and think “Can I really live on my own?”
My answer is “yes.” And then I blink a couple times, slam my head against my bedroom door and say “no.” Wait – what?
Back to the mamma’s boy example up at the very beginning of this entry – that is a fear of mine when I tell myself “no.” I am afraid of a future where I will still be living with my parents, hindering not only my own life plans, but theirs as well. I am afraid of being a dead beat failure with flattened ambition and a tire around my waist that would rival the Michelin man’s.
I am currently jobless, so I have no income, no money to live off of. I have a college savings account that will pay for two years – and maybe three, if I’m optimistic – of my college education. That does not include housing. Housing at my university of choice costs approximately $10,000 for freshman because we are absolutely required to purchase a full year meal plan. I understand they don’t want us iddy biddy “freshmeat” to starve, but really, we should still be able to choose whether or not to purchase a meal plan for the entire year.
Because of this and the fact that I have limited financial means, I will not be living on campus. Yes, I will miss out on the first-year campus life experience. I will miss out on being able to wake up five minutes before class starts and still get there on time. I will miss out on campus pranks and immediate campus news. I will miss out on opportunities to mix and mingle with roommates and other dorm zombies – not that I would mingle much anyway because I’m a reclusive hermit with the social skills of Rain Man. But really, I don’t regret it. Not too much, at least. In 2009, there was discussion about the possibility of lowering costs or even waiving tuition for students who were living at home. As one the student says in the article, “Looking back I am happy with my decision and that I didn’t spend that money on accommodation. But socially my student years would have been a lot easier if I’d moved out, as initially it was hard to meet people.”
I’m not into the angsty, “you’re ruining my life thing,” so I don’t hate my parents. Actually, I get along with them very well. My siblings… eh… They’re tolerable. Fortunately, my university of choice is only a little over 10 miles from where I live, so the commute isn’t too bad. This way, I don’t have to pay for food, utilities, furniture, living space, and most important of all (without getting too soppy), I get to have close familial support for a little while longer. It’s common sense that staying home saves you money.
Living on campus. Living at home. Either way, there are pros and cons. A student has to prioritize. “I’ll save money, but won’t meet people as easily. Or I’ll make a lot of friends and network a bit, but I’ll struggle to make ends meet.” Or maybe you won’t struggle to make ends meet. Maybe you can afford to be rich in both finances and social life. Then go for it! If you can do it, then go all out! Just be glad you’re that fortunate.
Don’t think I hate rich people and don’t think I’m anti-dorm living. Of course not! I think being able to live with your peers during college is a great idea, especially for freshmen. College is a new experience, different atmosphere, a significant stepping block, but staying at home – there’s no shame in that. However, if there’s one saying that gets me through almost anything it’s “everything is good… in moderation.” Moderation is key. Unless it is your ultimate goal to become a 30 year old mamma’s boy (or girl) or some special circumstances arise, you probably want to move out sometime or other. Living at home is, overall, a more financially efficient option than living in a dorm or some other housing during college. I’ll be living at home, but only for the first year. I do want to experience all that college has to offer (responsibly, of course, nudge nudge, wink wink), so I’ll get a job, get into the groove of college and then – come sophomore year – I’ll pack my bags, kiss mum and dad “adios for now” and say “hello” to freedom (seriously, I can never say/write “freedom” without thinking of Braveheart anymore… “Fr-r-r-e-e-e-dom!”).
What are your thoughts? Are you living at home or living on campus or even off campus?
Images courtesy of flixster.com and Stock.Xchng.