This article was written by an external contributor. Lucy Milburn is dispelling the stigma of moving back home after you graduate.
Whenever I imagined my life post-graduation, I would finish university with a plan and employers would snatch me up. I’d move to London, confident in my chosen career, and embrace grad life with open arms. Unsurprisingly, this was not the case. After a hectic three years of studying, partying and freedom, I moved home to the rural Lake District and took up residence in my childhood bedroom. University had burnt me out — both emotionally and financially.
Graduates who choose to move back home are often seen as taking a step backwards. The media often describe us as lazy millennials with no grasp on the real world — the ‘boomerang generation.’ We’re encouraged to struggle independently to make ends meet, rather than accept the security and respite of moving back in with our parents.
I was both embarrassed and envious watching my friends land their ‘dream jobs’ while I felt too disorientated to even browse the job sites. A degree is supposed to lay the foundations for a successful career so why did I feel more lost than ever? I finished uni in a strange limbo. I graduated with a load of self-doubt and ‘transferable skills’ that I didn’t know how to apply.
A few months down the line and moving home was definitely the right decision for me. Instead of regressing into an overgrown child, I immediately started working full-time and quickly redecorated my room so that it didn’t feel like a shrine to my teenage self. I rediscovered my love for writing, something that had been temporarily destroyed by my English Literature degree. And most importantly, I began to plan for my future with a clear head.
If you’re fortunate enough to have the same opportunity, moving back can be beneficial to your career in the long run and you can still ‘adult’ from the security of your home.
Finally being able to breathe was the first thing I noticed when I moved home. I didn’t realise just how much pressure I’d placed on myself to work hard, until I could relax in front of Netflix without an overwhelming sense of guilt. I desperately needed the space to clear my head, tackle my doubts and analyse my situation.
Now I’m planning my next stages, confident in my decisions as I’ve had the time to consider them without the pressure of exams and dissertation. Moving home helps you prioritise your mental health while giving you plenty of time to prepare for the future. Set yourself a time limit. You don’t want to live at home forever, but allow enough time to adjust to life without exams, all-nighters and student discount.
This extra time also allows you to be more selective with jobs. It takes time to comb through job adverts and eliminate those with poor salaries. Time that I didn’t really have between revision and clinging on to my social life in final year.
Instead of firing off applications left, right and centre, just apply for those that you feel passionate about. Or alternatively, those with the salaries that suit you. I’ve now created several tailored versions of my CV and I feel ready to face the graduate job-hunt head on.
Despite wanting to move to London as soon as I walked out of my final exam, I was treading water to stay out of my overdraft and in no position to live in such an expensive city. The main advantage to living at home is that a large financial burden is lifted. I can put the majority of my wages into a savings account, minus a couple of direct debits.
Having your own income is crucial if you’re going to move back home so that you’re not tempted to use your parents as a crutch. I can move out knowing that I have savings to fall back on if life doesn’t immediately go to plan.
Living at home as a fully-fledged adult is a whole new ball game to living at home pre-university. You’re no longer a dependent and this new relationship will be difficult for both you and your parents at first. You’ll have to navigate unfamiliar territory and it’s important to manage everyone’s expectations. Set some ground rules that ensure that you keep your own independence. And of course, make sure that you’re not taking advantage of your parent’s hospitality.
However, the most important thing is to treasure the time that you’re spending at home. This will (hopefully) be the last time that you live in your family home, so make the most of being with your loved ones. The same goes for your friendships. It can be a shock to the system living without your best friends around the corner. However, it forces you to put the effort into strengthening these friendships outside of the uni bubble.