Lockdown has been hard on all of us. It’s been even more of an experience for those quarantining with family members – especially with their parents.
For many of my friends and me, housing options can be very limited. We are known as ‘generation rent’. Figures have shown that a third of millennials may never be able to own their own home and will probably be renting for the majority of their life. These statistics are one of the main reasons why plenty of us still live with our parents. But for many young people who’ve been in quarantine with family, they’ve come to realise it’s time to move out.
Moving out of your parents’ house doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t get along with them. For Bola*, 22, who lives in Croydon, lockdown has actually improved her relationship with her mum and dad.
However, she is still feeling the pull of moving. “I wasn’t sure how our family would cope,” she says of lockdown living. “I think it brought us closer and we managed to reconcile a lot of tensions, because of the time we spent together.
“But for me, moving out is more about me being allowed to be an adult and having my own space. Being in lockdown made me realise your parents always see you as a child if you live at home and boundaries will always be crossed.”
Bola, who works in corporate responsibility for an insurance company, hopes to move out by December, but realistically thinks it will be more like next year.
Jessica, 27, a writer from Essex, says her family are her “best friends”, but that she wants to move out as soon as possible. Working from home has been a constant headache. But it can be even more stressful when your family members don’t realise working from home actually means working, she says.
“I’ve been working from home throughout lockdown which has been a challenge because my whole family has been disturbing and distracting me throughout my working day,” says Jessica. “They often forget that I’m actually working nine- -and-a-half hour days and will constantly try to talk to me.”
As with any houseshare, one of the biggest sources of tension has been food and mealtimes. Studies found a third of lockdown arguments have been waged in the kitchen. “My mum gets annoyed if I cook my own meals (which is a stress-relieving activity for me) because she wants to cook all the time,” says Jessica. “We’ve had a lot of arguments in the kitchen because she literally wants to oversee everything I do.”
For those of us who live in first-generation households, culture clash can also be a factor. It’s a commonly discussed among me and my peers that we’re proud of our heritage but also feel conflicted, as we often have British values where our parents do not. These tensions can be heightened by the pressures of lockdown.
This is the case for Dami*, 22, who is living at home in north London while working in tech.
“My mum is a typical African parent in the sense that giving her respect is more important than her talking to me in a respectful way,” she says. “It’s hard for us to talk things through without it escalating, I feel like there just isn’t that kind of sense of conflict resolution. If something goes wrong, it usually goes left and it really gets on my nerves. So I just think, If you’re not going to change, I might as well leave.”
Being in lockdown around your parents and family for weeks can highlight a lack of personal space. Bola, who says her bedroom is ‘tiny’, is certainly hankering for more, especially with her two brothers also living at home.
There is a sense that moving away from your parents could actually nurture your relationship – as you won’t be in each other’s way all the time. When Dami went to university, she says the dynamic with her mother was “great”. “I could check in with her when I wanted to and there wasn’t anything to argue about. That kind of long-distance parental relationship benefits me.”
Similarly, Jessica found relations improved when she lived away from her parents. “I first moved out aged 19 and then again when I was 23 after university. When I moved out, we weren’t under each other’s skin all the time; my mum loves to nag even when she has nothing to nag about. But when I was living away from home, we would call each other every night and just have a nice catch-up,” she says.
However, while the desire to move out can be a strong one, it’s still a risky move for young people to take – and easier said than done. As Dami, who hopes to make the move soon, tells me: “I’m quite lucky in the sense that the company I’m interning at has a housing stipend for me but if I didn’t have that I’d be stressed as it’s very expensive.”
Bola can just about afford to move out, she says, but wants to be in a better place financially before she does so – with a view to buying rather than renting. “There’s a lot of pressure in my household [for me] to get a mortgage. So I’d like to save before I move so I have enough for a deposit or enough money in my savings pot for any plans I have later, in terms or long-term investments.”
Jessica is also confident she could save for a house, but wants to take care of her family. ″Yes I can afford to rent and/or buy if I wanted to, and I think after the lockdown I will seriously start to look for a house in London to move to.
“But I moved back in with my parents to help out as my dad had a hip operation last year so I came home to help and support my mother; especially as my parents are also looking after my brother, too.”
Living with your parents isn’t always stressful; there are real moments to be treasured. “When I’m at home, we mostly spend our evenings watching a thriller and drinking hot chocolate, or I have movie nights with my dad,” says Jessica. “And when I’m not there, we do miss each other.” Equally, for many young people, quarantine has shown that it’s finally time to leave the nest.
• Some names have been changed to protect anonymity.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.