When is the right time to leave your parents’ house?

In Nairobi estates such as Jericho, Buruburu and Kaloleni, tales of ageing individuals still fattening in their parents’ houses are commonplace. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Kenyan courts have recently witnessed cases where parents seek orders to evict their children from their properties, but experts and the general society say there is no ideal age to move out since childhood is prolonged by education, dependency and harsh economic times.

So fed up was the father with his five children that he once put up his family house for sale. The man, living in an estate in eastern Nairobi, had considered the sale as the only way to get his offspring, all were well above 30, out of the house.

But he changed his plan after five of them, all above 30 years, grew dangerously depressed. Now he has to contend with the whole brood in the four-bedroomed house. Each of them prepares their own meals.

A similar incident unfolded recently in Kisumu when a widow, who had had enough of her three sons staying in the family house, pushed them out.

But the eldest, who is turning 49 this September, threatened to take his life. That made the exasperated mother put the ejection plan on ice.

The bone she has to pick with her sons is that they have refused to fend for themselves, despite the fact that they even have university education.

Like the Nairobi family, they also live in a four-bedroomed house. The level of comfort is perhaps the leading impediment for them to move out.

“I am a Christian but there are occasions when I have entertained the evil thought that it could be the doing of men. Could they be under a spell?” the mother posed.


Elsewhere in the United States, a couple sued their 30-year-old son in early May, seeking orders to evict him from their house.

Christina and Mark Rotondo filed a case at Onondaga County Supreme Court because they had run out of alternatives for ordering their son, Michael, out of the house.

Prior to the lawsuit, they had served him with an eviction letter many times.

“You are hereby evicted,” a February 13 letter from his mother said. “A legal enforcement procedure will be instituted immediately if you do not leave by March 15, 2018.”

The parents even offered their son $1,100 (Sh111,698) to facilitate his relocation but he would not budge.

“There are jobs available, even for those with a poor work history like you. Get one — you have to work!” they said, as quoted by the BBC.

The court agreed with the parents and ordered Michael to leave. Justice Donald Greenwood told the young man that his request to continue staying with his parents for six more months was “outrageous”.

The outcome of the lawsuit is sure to cause discomfort among many households in Kenya, especially in urban areas.

In Nairobi estates such as Jericho, Buruburu and Kaloleni, tales of ageing individuals still fattening in their parents’ houses are commonplace.

A familiar characteristic among such individuals, as depicted in a past advertisement for Nation Media Group’s “Utahama Lini?” promotion, is that they are lazy, overweight couch potatoes.

They are also very likely to be heavy consumers of alcohol and other drugs, and most probably have a child of their own in the house.

Does it have to take the intervention of a third party for someone to leave their parents’ house? Isn’t there an age where anyone feels ashamed putting up at their parents’ house?

Mr Jeff Nthiwa, a life coach at Nairobi-based Destiny Life Coaching, said there are two reasons why people who have come of age dread moving out of their parents’ houses.


One is the desire to spend whatever amount of money a person makes without having to pay rent.

“But there is also another group of people that stay there because they don’t have a vision. They reach their 20s and they have nothing to do and so they hang on to their parents’ houses and wealth,” he said.

“That is a disturbing trend for this generation because most parents have worked hard, they have a place to live, they have some money, and so their children are tempted to hang around and be lazy,” added Mr Nthiwa, a 40-year-old who also gives motivational talks.

Lifestyle asked Kenyans what the ideal age of moving out of the parents’ home was. Although the responses were varied, there appeared to be a consensus that 30 should be the upper limit.

Dr Beneah Mutsoso, a sociology lecturer at the University of Nairobi, however said there is no such thing as an ideal age. “Age is just a number,” he said. “Once parental responsibility is still on, you can live in your parents’ house. But once it elapses, you are ideally supposed to leave.”

The lecturer noted that unlike in the past when circumcision meant a man had to move out of his parents’ house, education has prolonged the dependency.

“Childhood is prolonged because of education,” he said.

Mr Thomas Juma, a taxi driver in Nairobi, said a person can stay at his parents’ place for as long as they wish because what matters is self-sufficiency.

“The moment you are stable, you decide to think of how you’re going to be yourself,” said the 50-year-old.

The discussion about leaving the parents’ home also centres on property, and Kenyan courts have in the past witnessed cases where a father sought orders to evict a son from his estate.

One often-cited case has been nicknamed “Mukangu vs Mbui” in legal circles. It was a case where Mbui Mukangu had sued his son Gerald Mutwiri in Meru.

At the heart of the dispute was a three-acre parcel of land. Mr Mbui wanted Gerald ordered out of the land, despite the fact that he had given it to his son to cultivate and he had used it for some time.

The father argued that the land being occupied by his son was not ancestral, and thus he had no claim to it. Gerald insisted that this was ancestral land.

In a verdict issued by the Court of Appeal sitting in Nyeri in December 2004, a three-judge bench agreed with lower courts that the son had a right to the land because, even if it was not ancestral land, he had stayed there for a long time. He had used it since his birth in 1956.

“Gerald was in possession and occupation of the land with the consent and knowledge of Mr Mbui since his birth in 1956. He has constructed a five-roomed permanent house and has planted coffee in the suit land,” the judges said.

One way of addressing such squabbles, Mr Nthiwa said, is by creating an “exit” plan for children as soon as they hit teenage.

“Parents need to push their children. In fact, when they are teenagers, you need to have clear directives on when they should get out,” said the life coach.

Mr Nthiwa said he himself moved out of his parents’ house at 19.

“That’s how I knew how to look for ways to make it to the end of the month, how to budget,” he said. “There is something that you lack in terms of maturity if you stay too long in the nest.”

The motivational coach joked that by the time a man reaches a stage where he is bringing women home, he needs to find his own house.

However, Mr Nthiwa said, there is the last-born problem, where the youngest child is encouraged to stay with parents.

Often, he reasoned, the parents keep the last-born children out of a desire to meet their own needs.

“At that point the parents have a need. We call it the need for connection in psychology. They have this need to connect because now they are growing older and everyone else has moved out. So, there is this one left whom you want to keep as long as possible, for your own needs,” opined Mr Nthiwa.


He challenged such parents to let go of their last-born children and find other ways of satiating their need for connection.

“It is one of the hardest things for a parent at that age to do, but let the child go,” said Mr Nthiwa.

Want to tell the signs that your parents want you out? Bloggers around the world have come up with (often comical) tips on how to tell it is time to find your own space.

On viralthread.com, one Oscar Trondheim has 13 signs. They include a time when yours dad’s liquor cupboard has more apple juice than alcohol.

“If the balance has tipped and you’ve got apple juice that tastes faintly of liquor, then you’ve been there too long,” the writer jokes.

Another sign, he says, is if you come from a Saturday night out and find your parents waking up to start their Sunday.

Furthermore, if you are hung-over and unsociable on Sundays, it is your time to bid the house farewell.

“Your parents want to talk to you about life, specifically why you came downstairs at midday and why you look like death, and all you want to do is watch TV. Mum, bless her, keeps trying to start conversations but you’re giving nothing but one word answers,” the writer says.

On society19.com, writer Ziera Soda has 10 tell-tale signs that your time to move out is long overdue.

She says one of them is when you spend most of your time outside the house, if your meal preferences differ with those of your parents, if you need more privacy, among others.

On thoughtcatalog.com, Kailla Coomes has six sure signs, one of them being hints being dropped by parents.

“‘Oh honey, did you hear that Mary moved out of her parents’ house last month?’ ‘Sweetie, look at this two-bedroom apartment, it seems affordable.’ These kinds of comments make one think that their parents really don’t want them around any more,” Kailla writes.

She adds that another sign is when every conversation turns into an argument.

“It’s hard not to argue with them, especially when they are bringing up the ‘when are you going to move out?’ conversation. But they did support you during your crazy hippy phase, so before you hate them, move out,” she notes.


Readers’ verdict: The ideal age to move out is around 20-30 years


“The ideal age is starting from 20. As early as 20, a man should step out to have an experience of life out there. He should try to hustle even before going to campus, so he can get the exposure of the outside life in order to carve a better future. By 19, I was already out, to keep the struggle. A man isn’t a man without money. When the wallet is empty, things are tough. You have to go out and hunt. Plus, you shouldn’t be bothering your parents for money for data bundles, airtime and such.”




“There is no fixed age or time-frame for one to leave their parents’ house. The ability, maturity and stability of the person determine their transition to a life of their own. This ranges from economic independence, the ability to make judgements, or psychological stability, and the maturity levels to make decisions which are reasonable and well-thought out.”



“The age varies, depending on the prevailing circumstances. Some important questions arise, like if the person is still in school, if they are employed, if they can sustain themselves or if they are in a serious relationship. However, staying with your parents after 24 years is a disgrace to adulthood.”



“The ideal age depends on the gender. Women should be married off early because, generally, they marry earlier than men. Between age 27 and 30, men will be more stable to take the women in the 22-25 age bracket.”




“Twenty-six is a good age. By then, you should have finished the 8-4-4 system of education. You should at least be having a job and are fine, with the only lack being starting a family.”