Am I 16 Again?: What It's Like To Move Back Home At Age 23

Last month, I decided to overhaul my life. I broke up with my boyfriend (we’re back together now, long story), quit my part-time serving job, turned down a potential second job, packed up all of my belongings (including my cats) and moved back in with my parents. While some may consider this a mid-20s crisis, I consider it a much-needed fresh start.

I had lived in San Diego for over four years, give or take a few summer vacations, and developed a fear of being alone. I was paranoid that I would lose my friends if I wasn’t perfect and always available for them when they needed me, and as a result I became overwhelmed and overly dependent on others for my own happiness. I was stuck in a rut and had a moment of clarity one morning that I needed to get out of the city that was slowly swallowing me whole. So I moved three hours away to Ventura and have started the process of finding my independence so that I can rely on myself, and only myself, when it comes to being content with my life.

But that’s not to say I’ll never need a support system. I think it’s important for all of us to develop close relationships with our family and trustworthy friends because they play an important role in helping us develop a valuable sense of self. I’ve learned through this experience that people really do care about me and that it is worth nurturing my relationships with them and keeping them close to my heart. The encouragement of my friends, parents, sister and boyfriend (even when he was my ex-boyfriend) has reassured me that I’ve made the right decision by moving back to my childhood home, and that it was brave of me to leave my comfort zone as a means of bettering myself.

So what do I do with all of my free time as an extra-unemployed 23-year-old who lives with her parents? I spend my days:

  • designing my future home and wedding on Pinterest (check out my pins here)
  • gathering inspiration from my friends’ blogs
  • relaxing in pajamas
  • reorganizing my childhood bedroom
  • watching Dr. Oz, Ellen and HGTV every afternoon
  • laughing out loud while watching Late Night With Jimmy Fallon
  • watching repeats of Hoda and Kathie Lee on Today at 2 a.m.
  • building up the energy to pick up the pace on finding a job
  • collecting articles to read on Instapaper, my new favorite web app
  • editing my wardrobe and donating a good amount of stuff to Goodwill

While my days may involve an abundance of television shows and interwebbing, they also involve regular heart-to-hearts with my mom and cleaning up after the six animals I now live with. Obviously, I’m living the dream.

Have any of you moved back in with your parents after college? Do you have any advice on how to avoid falling in love with being lazy and becoming addicted to television? Do you have leads on any jobs? Am I too old to put posters on my walls?

  • Emma Sary

    I’m 23 and 4 days into a 2-month stay with my parents for the same reasons. Instead of a 3hour drive I took a 16hour journey across the atlantic, but getting away from the drama of every day life is such a relief.
    I’m mainly doing the dishes, catching up with childhood friends (and the highschool boyfriend, awkward.) and training to run a 5k (why? no idea.)
    It’s difficult for me to not feel like a huge bum at this point.

  • Delphine Riffaud

    I’m 22. I think the same thing is going to happen to me in 6 months (without the boyfriend situation though). My own answer is to plan my escape!
    Here’s the thing: I came up with the idea that the biggest problem in my life was my country. Don’t judge me, i love France! I just love it better when I’m abroad; without the pressure of friends, family, jobs…
    In order to plan my escape, i might be stopping by my parents’ for a while. Any advice on how not to get stuck there for ever?

    p.s: you’re never too old to put posters on the walls, as long as there is no Britney, fairy, backstreet boys…

  • Victoria Anne Simpson

    You described a day in my life! I moved back home in December for a much needed 2 month break before leaving the country. I’m reorganising my childhood bedroom, watching Cougar Town reruns and wishing I had a friend nearby to banter with, dreaming about the house I’ll own one day and thinking about the blog I want to start. Enjoy the break while it lasts, it goes quickly!

  • Irati Toscano

    I live in Spain, and here you’re the exception if after uni you move out from your parent’s house…
    So, you just need to feel more European :)

  • Stephanie Archibald

    This is my life without the move back home. I was made redundant last year. Only in the last two weeks have I weaned myself off so much T.V. (I still have to watch Grey’s Anatomy and Ghost Whisperer, programs I never wanted to watch previous to bumhood) and internet (I am addicted to finding images I like and adding them to my ‘inspiration’ folder). Of course I have looked for a lot of work in this time too but I have been neglecting my sewing projects which I could be selling on Etsy for extra cash! I set myself twenty pieces in two weeks and I think I’m getting close now. But I have still been feeling like a pathetic loser. I have no job in a city that has had massive lay offs, I feel I have no direction, I hardly see my boyfriend who lives miles away, my car is broken and I can’t afford to fix it, I live in a share household with a horrible person. On top of all that last year was the worst and hardest year of my life with my boyfriend being diagnosed with brain cancer. This sounds like a big whinge fest. Ha. But your article has made me feel so much better because it makes me feel so less alone in my struggle.

    I don’t really have any groundbreaking advice for avoiding being lazy apart from trying to set daily/weekly goals. That seems to help me a bit.
    And one is never too old to put posters on ones walls.

  • Samantha Miller

    I’m 26, and had my epiphany about 8 months ago, when I left my boyfriend of 11 (yes, eleven) years and moved back in with the ‘rents. I realized I wasn’t living my life for me, but making decisions based on what I thought would make the people around me happy. I realized not one aspect of my life was something I wanted, or made me happy. I was a complete basket case for months and felt like a super bum, but I had time to really figure out what it was that I wanted. I kept my job even though I hated it, saved tons of money, and in less than two weeks I will be boarding a plane to start my new (and highly improved!) life in New York City :) So take it from someone who’s closing in on the end of their life overhaul–you’re doing something that kind of sucks right now in order to move on to something greater in life. It WILL pay off, just don’t get stuck in the comfort of your childhood couch or moms cooking (it’s so hard, I know!) but keep thinking of the end game. You can go and do whatever you want with your life, you just need some time to figure out what that is :) GOOD LUCK!!!!

  • Blandine Spérat

    I’ve been in the same situation. At 24, I was struggling finding a good job and felt really lonely, all my friends being busy with their own jobs/relationships. So I decided to move back to my parents’ house, for a fresh start.
    At first, it was helpful, I was not alone anymore, I had someone to talk to, I could relax all day long and do nothing !
    But then, I realized that I was killing my chances to find a job, away from the city and its animation. Plus, I missed the partying/being independant part! So I decided to move back to my apartment, and established some rules : to wake up early, go to the gym (I forced myself because believe me, I didn’t want to!), put structure in my average day.
    Sometimes, I don’t succeed and spend my day on my couch but then I feel guilty and decide to do the dishes/go for a walk/do some job research.
    I’m still lazy but I’m working on it and I feel much better when I’m active during the day!
    We are young, we can allow ourselves this period of “transition”, and one day you are going to want something else : your own place, independance, etc. and you will move on!

  • Kelly Wuyscik

    I moved back home right after college (2 years ago) and I’m still living at home. It’s a really smart way to stay afloat in a beautiful economic environment (haha) and so I commend you for moving home as well. Just make sure to throw a little job hunting into the tv mix every once in a while! It can get rather repetitive with little on your plate, but you’ll work all of that out when the time is right for YOU. Now is the time to put you first and make sure you are headed where you want in life. If moving back home helps with that, then I say rock on!

  • Jen Pulling

    This is a move that I am deeply considering and it actually terrifies me. My only concern really is that I regress into that teenager who never went anywhere and locked herself in her room all day. And forget the not working thing. I cannot imagine not having a job (just my guilt I guess). I suppose there are aspects of my life that I would lose here on my own, but would gain financially if I moved back home. Is it worth all the money I save?

  • Dani Hawkins

    Story of my life – almost the exact same thing happened to me a year ago. I like to refer to it as my quarter-life crisis. It felt horribly embarrassing at first, but it wasn’t as bad as I feared it would be. I got two part time jobs I was content with for a while, but then the urge for something more kept getting stronger. This will happen to you too. Your determination will finally overtake whatever laziness you’ve become accustomed to – you’re clearly not a bum. I was patient and things just sort of fell into place. When I ran home with my tail between my legs to live with my parents again (after I’d broken up with my boyfriend and lived about 10 hours away), I was having the exact same codependancy issues. While I was at home, I found my legs and independence again. I’ve just moved about 900 miles away and the only person, well thing, I depend on for happiness is my mutt. Don’t worry. Be patient. You will slowly find your feet again. I promise.

  • Mary Dodd

    Funny thing, I’m 23 and I just moved back in with my parents after 5 years of living 18 hours away in the great state of Texas. I spend my days quite like you except I wake up every morning and watch “Live With Kelly”. So. I’m glad we’re in this together.

  • Bre Short

    This is fantastic. I’m 22, and moved back home to live with my sister in October. I was living in Pittsburgh for school and dancing with a small company. I thought I had everything figured out until I realized that everything I was doing was for someone else. I didn’t actually WANT to be in the company anymore, but I didn’t want to leave the amazing people I had in my life because of it. I didn’t WANT to live in Pittsburgh, but I loved a man who was there. About a month before I left Pittsburgh, I wrote myself a letter. It was basically a reassurance that even though I’ll be heartbroken and frustrated, I am doing the right thing for ME. I needed to figure out my own life instead of getting caught up in trying to be a part of someone else’s. It helped to write that while in a clear state of mind so that whenever I question my decision I remember that my “higher self” knows this is the right choice.

    I’ve been working 2 jobs (and just lost one of them..ouch) and have made a few trips to NYC for dance auditions. Most importantly, I’ve had time to figure out what I want. In April I’ll be moving to NYC to start a new adventure! In hindsight, I would say that I could have actually relaxed MORE. I panicked and tried to CONSTANTLY be working and moving and feeling “productive” when in reality, I needed to calm down and take a breath. So keep yourself busy and open to opportunities, yes, but take advantage of being able to take a breather. It goes by faster than you think. And the thing is, SO many people our age are doing this. I think we’re just all a little embarrassed to admit it, so no one is talking to each other about it. If we’re all alone or lost for now, then we’re together in that too. G’luck!

  • Laura Hough

    I moved home after graduating in 2010 and struggled to find a job that I loved. I only just moved out 4 months ago after a long year with my parents. Use the time at home to figure out what your short term goals are for yourselves, regardless of what everyone else is up to. I found my current job by applying for unpaid internships, and mine just happened to become a paid job at the end. Poster are fine whatever age just so long as you think they are awesome : )

  • Tish Chambers

    Sounds like me when I moved back to my parents’ house after a year of college. I had one job interview, but then pretty much gave in to the laziness. The only thing that got me out of the house was choosing to go to college again.

  • Carolyn Holst

    I’m jealous! I’m 22 and graduating college in 100 days. I’ve been at college 2 hours away from home for the past 4 years. Between school and working part-time nights/weekends, I’ve been home less than 10 times in those 4 years. I MISS HOME!! Now a great job opportunity out here awaits me but I am so tempted to move back in with mom for a couple years.

  • Kendall De Jong

    I moved home after graduating college in 2008. No shame in it, even when I was spending Friday nights watching Mary Tyler Moore episodes on DVR with the mom… The thing that worked for me was having goals and throwing myself out there until I reached them. Now, four years later, I’ve got a good job (had to go through a couple not so stellar ones to find it), I own my own condo (LOTS of saving up, thanks to rent free stay at the parents’ for a year and a half) and I now rock climb and salsa dance and met some new amazing people through these activities. As far as the boy stuff goes… I’m not sure I’ll ever figure that one out! But it’s definitely normal to revisit ‘the nest’ to get everything in order before jumping into life. Good luck and you’ll be fine!

  • Paige Barclay

    I’m 25 and I basically did this same thing just over a year ago. I woke up one morning and realized I was miserable. So I changed what I could, packed up my stuff, and moved back to my dad’s. BEST DECISION EVER! I got myself re-organzied, changed a lot of bad habits, picked up some good ones and now life is awesome. I think for some people moving home after college is a much needed breather. As for the laziness, just enjoy it if you can. It will get boring eventually and at that point you’ll be ready to move on to the next exciting frontier.

  • Katrina Barnett

    aah! vta! 805 holla etc :)
    If you have to live at home, at least you’re living in a beautiful city and didn’t have to move to the ice and snow of north dakota to find a job! oh ventura. I miss it.

  • Thalia Cerilli

    I’ve had a similar situation… I had move to the big city of Montreal only to move back to my mums place. Got back on my feet in a jiffy (1 year or so) after getting back on my feet and in my head! During the day, Iwas glued to the TV, watching Stephen and Chris, Dr Oz and The View… At night I would be watching movies repeatedly…
    Eventually, I got a break. And you will get one too.
    I say, do what you’re doing now. Enjoy it. Stuff your face with your guilty pleasure and stay in your pajamas.
    Keep an eye for job posting, but don’t revolved yourself around it (unless you ABOLUTELY need a job NOW).
    It was dificult to get back at it. The whole ‘ok I wanna be productive and do this and do that’. What really helped thought was running. It’s my thing now. running here and there. 15 minutes runs are just freaking so liberating.
    Try it.
    Or just go outside.
    It helped me a lot!

    ANYWAY. That was my 2 cent :)

  • Amy Danielle

    It’s so nice to know I’m not alone! I’ve been back home for nearly two years now. Only instead of starting over, I feel like I can’t start over until I am out on my own again. But I can’t do that until I’ve got a job, and I can’t get a job without experience, and I can’t get experience without experience.

    So, my days are spent on Netflix, HG, Imgur, reading, and painting my nails. I’m more bored and depressed every day. How do I begin to actually live my life while I’m living with my parents, jobless and broke?

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