Recent statistics have shown that almost half of Metro Vancouverites in their 20s still live at home — the second-highest rate in Canada.
Barbara Mitchell, SFU professor of sociology and gerontology, explained that “returning home is quite common these days, with one third of Canadian young people aged 20 to 30 returning at least once.”
Mitchell calls this period of life the “Boomerang Age.” The name borrows from the idea that young adults are returning home after leaving for university or college, producing a similar trajectory to that of a boomerang.
According to Statistics Canada, many university students have to work double, triple and in some cases six times the number of hours at minimum-wage jobs to afford tuition costs compared with 40 years ago. On top of tuition, other costs for students include rent, food, and other basic necessities. All these factors considered, for many, it makes financial sense to live at home.
Many young adults quickly discover that even with a university degree, it isn’t easy to secure a job after graduation — especially one within their field with a reliable income.
“The labour market has become more precarious and less stable relative to recent time periods,” Mitchell told The Province. With better healthcare and a longer lifespan, some older employees are opting to remain in their positions for longer periods, as they postpone their retirements.
According to a survey conducted by Harris Poll, employers are hesitant to hire the newly graduated because of three reasons: first, they feel there is too much emphasis on book learning instead of real world learning in post-secondary education; second, the company may require a blend of technical skills as well as the soft skills gained from liberal arts; and third, entry level roles are growing more complex.
Returning home can be difficult, Mitchell explains. Some young adults might feel a lack of privacy and independence — they feel monitored and “subjected to parental rules and regulations,” and feel as if they are developing a dependency on their parents. The difference in personality and lifestyles may also affect day-to-day living, leaving both parties feeling stressed and frustrated.
Nevertheless, living at home can have advantages. Many people have stated that living in Metro Vancouver is expensive and oftentimes unaffordable. It is therefore cheaper to share the burden of cost by pooling the family resources.
When living at home, money normally spent on tuition or living expenses could be put towards paying off student loans or saving up for future investments, such as a condo. Home can additionally be an environment that is safe and familiar and could help reduce stress and anxiety.
Despite the stigma surrounding living in your parents’ basement, Mitchell feels that the choice to return home doesn’t have to be shameful. The home-life can be an opportunity for young adults to explore their individual identities and roles, before taking on the full responsibilities of adulthood.