OPINION: Living ‘rent free

headshot_Cameron Gorman

Cameron Gorman

If you read my columns, you’ve probably gathered by now that I’m a commuter student. Like a lot of students at Kent State, instead of retiring to a dorm room on campus when the long day of classes and work is over, I drive home. And I don’t live in an apartment, either. I live at home.

My house — or, should I say, my parents’ house — is about a half-hour away from the Kent campus, not nearly as bad as it sounds when I put it on paper. The house is full, that’s for sure. I have three siblings, all teenagers, and lots of pets.

Yes, it can get a little chaotic sometimes. And yes, when I have parties, part of me wishes I could have the whole house to myself instead of just the basement. But overall, I like being home during the academic year.

As my 16-year-old sister likes to point out when we get into arguments, I am a (freshly minted) 22-year-old adult, and I live with my parents.

Even to me, saying “I live with my parents” sounds a little awkward. I’ve always been an independent person. My mom likes to tell me that, far from clinging to her legs on my first day of kindergarten, I shooed her away, ready to get on with the school world already.

I consider myself someone who needs to go out and strike her way in the world. So why am I so OK with remaining in the same bedroom I’ve been sleeping in since I was 10?

Well, I guess you could say this much: Not only am I someone who considers herself independent, but I am also someone who wants to continue going to college. I am also someone who wants to save money to go to graduate school or fulfill life post-college.

The United States Census Bureau reported in a 2017 article by Jonathan Vespa, “A third of young people, or 24 million of those aged 18 to 34, lived under their parents’ roof in 2015. More young adults lived with parents than with a spouse in 2016.”

I think this is pretty telling. I look at this change and simply see adaptation. Student loan debt is high for most people in this age bracket — a Forbes article by Zack Friedman says the debt crisis had reached $1.5 trillion. 

Meanwhile, the cost of living isn’t going down, and jobs aren’t becoming easier to get. The large amount of people my age living with their parents, to me, simply makes sense. As an age group, there is a desire to find stable footing in order to build ourselves up.

If we want to go to college, maybe our money is going toward tuition and not rent. If we want to move out, maybe working and staying at home is a way to save up for precisely that. Now, I’m not saying there are no limits to the hospitality of one’s parents. I’m sure they’d rather us all spread our wings sooner or later, to fly free from the nest and learn to find our footing.

But sometimes, especially while in school, you do what you’ve got to do. And, let’s face it: It’s not so bad to be able to walk over to the other room, at least for now, and hug your mom.

Cameron Gorman is a columnist and illustrator. Contact her at [email protected].