People often say that you have to live in dorms to be independent. I lived with my parents when I was studying at the University of Toronto in Canada and, now that I am doing my master’s degree in Britain, I am still living with them. Tell people this and they think I am too dependent on my parents, or say that they are “following” me across the world.
It is actually becoming very common for young adults to stay at home, even if they have jobs. A 2016 survey conducted by Statistics Canada showed that more than a third of young Canadians aged 20 to 34 still live with their parents, with the number rising to 47.4 per cent in Toronto. Even though most of them are working, it is not enough to achieve financial independence, and staying with parents can help pay off debts.
Living with my parents does not mean I have no “adult” responsibilities. I helped out when we were looking for a flat; I checked out each apartment; and even signed the tenancy agreement. As we were new to Britain, we also had to compare internet and cable deals, as well as sort out the utilities. It’s prepared me for what I need to do when I move out eventually.
Given that I do not have a job, moving out would cost my parents more money. While I understand that some students have to study abroad and live apart from their parents, it is actually a waste of time to study in a foreign country just
to prove your independence or maturity. Hong Kong is relatively small and has a wonderful public transport network. We cannot judge people’s character from the fact that they live at home.
What’s more, having seen a mahjong table in one of the dorms, I realised that I would not be that focused on my studies if I were to live in such a place. Living with your parents does mean you lose the freedom to do things that they disapprove of, for example, staying out until 3am at pubs or hosting house parties, but I do not enjoy these activities, so I am not affected. And from friends’ anecdotes, vomiting and hangovers do not seem to indicate success at adulting.
And for those who are worried that my parents have nothing to do here, fear not. They love to live in different cities and explore the different cultures and history. Having lived most of their lives in Hong Kong, they always wanted to travel after they retired. I also value the chance to share these experiences with them. There are so many events that we attend together, and we enjoy ourselves a lot.
There will be a time when I can support myself financially and move out, but for now, I am happy and there’s no need to shame me for that. In fact I am grateful that I still have a warm home I can return to after a long day of studying.