Jillian Knowles has a master's degree, a good job, and she lives with her parents
With $150,000 in student loan debt looming, she moved back home
Three in 10 millennials are part of the "boomerang generation" who moved back home
Are you a millennial who moved back home? Share your story with CNN iReport
Editor’s Note: First Person is a series of personal essays exploring identity and personal points of view that shape who we are. The latest contributor is Jillian Knowles, an emergency medicine physician assistant in the Philadelphia area. She shared a related essay on living at home on CNN iReport.
I always pictured myself graduating from college, getting a cool job and even having a cute little place of my own. So far, I have a master’s degree, and I got the coolest job ever as an emergency medicine physician assistant. But instead of waking up in a posh apartment, I hear the early-morning sounds of my family dog barking and my parents making coffee downstairs.
At 27, I still live with my parents, and I love it.
That’s right. Despite the bad press my generation of “boomerang millennials” has generated, some of us are happy and even grateful to have a soft place to land after college, even if we’re gainfully employed.
My decision to live at home was not one of absolute necessity. As a physician assistant, I make a good salary and would be able to live on my own comfortably if I needed to do so. By the time I finished graduate school, I had amassed a $150,000 debt from both undergraduate and graduate tuition. With several of these loans earning a 7.9% interest rate, my father calculated that my loans were increasing by $15 a day in interest alone. I was astounded. At this rate, it would take me 30 years to pay off my student loans, with much of it going straight to interest.
I thought of my options: Live on my own and pay rent, utilities and food costs, as well as skyrocketing student loans, or move back in with my parents and pay an all-encompassing, smaller monthly rent that would allow me to try and get a jump on my student loans. I chose the latter.
Beyond the endless supply of home-cooked meals, the best thing about moving back home is that I am not alone. Several of my physician assistant friends are in the same boat as I am – we are all highly educated, white-collar employees who live at home. Our co-workers in the medical field think it is a great idea because many of them are facing the same gut-wrenching piles of debt. They often say if they could do it all again, they would do the same thing.
With so many millennials moving back in after graduation, the term “boomerang generation” was born. About three in 10 adults ages 25 to 34 still live at home, according to a 2012 study by Pew Research Center. The number of young adults living at home hit a low in the 1980s, but it’s been on the rise since the recession started in 2007.
About a quarter of these individuals felt their living situation was bad for their relationship with their parents.
There’s a stigma that comes along with this arrangement. Some people might assume that we are mooching off our parents or that we’re too lazy to find a job. I don’t think my neighbors understand it, as they continually ask me when I am going to graduate and if I am old enough to babysit their children. My mom is quick to dispel any negative comments from people we know though. She just tells people that I’m successful, well-educated and that I save lives.
I love living at home. There is a constant supply of coffee and people to pal around with, and I’ve been slowly chiseling away at my student loans for the past year. Now that I’ve paid off $68,000 of my student loans, those loan payments aren’t nearly as nauseating as they used to be.
I’ll be honest, moving back home did take some getting used to. My parents were extremely gracious in opening their home back up to me as I trampled into their empty nest. I was not used to having to tell anyone what time I would be home, where I was going and what I was doing. I agreed to keep them posted on my whereabouts so they don’t worry if I’m not home at a certain time.
As for my parents, they had to get used to me coming home at all hours from the hospital, trying to be quiet while I sleep during the day after working the night shift and putting up with the horrible television shows I like to watch.
Our new relationship is symbiotic. My parents benefit from having an extra set of hands around the house to help with chores and a constant source to explain all pop-culture references.
In terms of romance, I am 27, and my boyfriend is 33. He is not allowed upstairs and has to sleep on the couch if he stays over. Thankfully, he is understanding and has a place of his own. I spend a couple of nights a week hanging out at his place.
As it stands right now, I say that I am going to move out next year. But honestly, I have no reason to do so. Moving out on my own would mean that I would have to cook for myself, clean my place and go grocery shopping. I know that I can live on my own if I need to, but right now I don’t want to. I am fortunate to have such loving parents, and I understand that not everyone is lucky enough to be in this same situation. Thankfully, my parents have not told me I need to move out by a certain point.
If I stay here long enough, I might get to the point where I start telling people that my parents live with me. But as it stands right now, I live with them, and society should be OK with that.
Are you an adult child living at home? What inspired you to move back in with your parents? We invite millennials to share their stories of living at home with CNN iReport.