Living with my parents at 30 doesn’t make me a ‘kidult’
There's one question I usually gulp down along with a dollop of shame and a sizeable tablespoon of guilt.
'Where do you and your fiance live?'
It can be found on the list of top 10 questions of small talk, and is one I come face-to-face with a lot.
When I began working in media, I was the only person in the office who still lived at home with their parents. It was a fact I often felt embarrassed about because along with this tidbit of information came the assumption that I wasn't a 'real adult' until I flew the coop and lived in four walls that contained me and maybe a housemate or boyfriend.
But COVID-19 has change everything. It has had the power to change our employment status, our financial situation and as a consequence, our living arrangements.
Dubbed 'generation boomerang' the coronavirus crisis has seen an influx of adults, God forbid, move back in with their parents.
"From young professionals who have lost their jobs, to expatriates returning from overseas, COVID-19 has had a negative financial impact on many Aussies," finder.com.au personal finance expert Kate Browne said.
But what if you're an adult who never left the family home?
Research has also found that 26 per cent of Australian households (roughly 1.5 million families) contain an adult child, otherwise known as a 'kidult'. Of these, one in five households had a kidult who had recently returned due to COVID-19.
This means there's approximately 331,000 kidults like me out there in Australia.
Most mark us kidults as lazy, somewhat entitled and not having the ability to stand on your own two feet. What's often not considered is the idea that intergenerational living can be cultural.
As a Macedonian-Australian, there are some practices that are followed by most, if not all, families in this particular community. It's highly uncommon to move out of home prior to marriage. Conversely, it's also highly common for couples to move in with either their own or their partner's parents for a period of time following their wedding.
These sorts of living arrangement are frequent in European countries - most notably Italy and Spain. During the decade after the global financial crisis of 2008, Italians between the ages of 25 and 29 living with their parents increased to 67 per cent (even before the GFC it was at 61 per cent). According to Eurostat, the same demographic in Spain grew to 63 per cent, having previously been 51 per cent.
Yet despite being a regular occurrence in households around the world, it's still met with social stigma here in Australia.
I am 30 years old and self-sufficient in all aspects of my life. I don't rely on 'the bank of Mum and Dad', I pay my own bills, have my own car, have worked since I was legally old enough and pay my taxes. But I am lucky to be in a living situation that has afforded me ease elsewhere, like saving for a wedding.
At the end of last year when my fiance and I got engaged, we made the decision that he would move in with my family. Yep. Me, my mum, my dad and my fiance (and of course, our dog).
Weddings are expensive, and given purchasing our own place wasn't on the cards for the foreseeable future, it was a sensible move for us.
If we could go back to December 2019 and tap ourselves on the shoulder, we never would have believed what was to come as the pandemic unfolded. Having been made redundant just weeks ago, I would have found it difficult to support myself (let alone pay for a wedding) had we been living out of home, and had we been, this situation would have forced us to move back in with my parents nevertheless.
The bottom line is that it works for us. We are four adults living under one roof. We each pick up different responsibilities at different points as needed. We cook, we clean, we do the washing, we run errands, and we all help each other when needed.
My partner and I are both adults and we live as such; we haven't assumed the position of 'the kids' in our living arrangement.
Furthermore, many of the hundreds of thousands of adult children who have recently moved back home have done so to help their parents during lockdown.
So please, stop referring to this demographic as 'kidults'. Yes, we might be adults living with parents, but we aren't infants and it doesn't make us less than.
We've done enough, learned enough, achieved enough and worked hard enough to be given our so-called adult badge, regardless of the way the coronavirus or a situation otherwise has impacted our living arrangements.
Valentina Todoroska is a freelance writer, editor and former primary school teacher.
Originally published as Living with my parents at 30 doesn't make me a 'kidult'