Penny pinchers: At 30, working but still living with mom and dad


It is often considered that adults living with their parents are moochers who claim their parent’s property by tears, or even take it by force without a single sweat.

However, for Ms Peninah Wairimu, that is not the case. Since she got her first job as a teacher in Limuru, three years ago, she is still living with her parents.

And she has no apologies to make even after seeing a good number of her age mates renting houses in the neighbourhood.

Interestingly, the teacher in her mid twenties (she is reluctant to tell us her real age), has no plans to move out any time soon. She says that staying with her parents is one of the best financial decisions she has ever made in her life.


“Like many of my college mates, I vowed that I would not move back to my parents home after I graduated. I wanted to be independent, rich and successful. But after seven months of rent, bills and a pitiful salary, I changed my tune completely.

"I have learnt that, especially in this economy, with the unemployment rate being so high, there is nothing wrong with moving back in with mum and dad. In fact, it is really a smart decision,” says Ms Wairimu.

Since she started living with her parents in 2006 she has been able to save three-quarters of her salary every month.

Her monthly expenses add up to Sh5,000, which include paying for transport, lunch and buying a few other personal things. When she was living alone, she used to spend about Sh14,500 on the same, plus rent.

“Being with my parents,” she adds, “has made me a very responsible person, but this does not mean that I have no plans to start my own life. I am also saving money to go for further studies. I know that before I move out, I will have achieved all that.”

Ms Wairimu is among thousands of young Kenyan adults who have been forced to swallow their pride for the sake of their bank balance, to beat the rising cost of living.

After staying with her parents for close to 5 years, she says that she was able to save about Sh120,000 and used Sh75,000 as start-up capital for her business.

“I am both a teacher and a business woman. I sell clothes, which I buy from Uganda during the weekends. But when I am in class, my mother takes care of my business. I am sure that if I was living alone, I would have been paying someone to operate the business.”

Her parents rarely charge her for staying with them, and this allows her to save some money on rent, electricity, water and other bills.

“In my parent’s house, the food is almost always free of charge and usually, laundry is taken care of as well,” she says.

The young entrepreneur saves Sh8,500 from her monthly salary and gets a profit of up to Sh2,400 weekly from a clothes business she operates in Limuru town, depending on the number of clients who turn up.

“I do not dismiss the fact that my social freedom is somehow limited. But again, when I look back, I think I am gaining more than many other people who have to foot their own bills when living alone, despite earning small salaries,” she adds.

Some sociologists believe that lack of financial independence, clashes of lifestyles and young adults treating the family home “like a hotel”, puts pressure on parents when they find themselves living with their grown-up sons and daughters for much longer than they had ever expected.


But does this mean that Ms Wairimu is losing her personal freedom and financial independence?

“It is true, our lifestyles sometimes collide, but I don’t think I am losing my financial independence. I think I even have a lot of financial freedom because my parents are very understanding.

Most of the time we discuss finances and I appreciate what they tell me about the importance of saving. I have friends leading a harsh life due to the high cost of living, especially in urban areas. I have also been there and know it is very difficult to live on your own.”

Ms Wairimu says she will think of moving out of her parent’s home in the next three years after achieving her financial goals.

“I think that instead of taking a bank loan to purchase a piece of land, for example, it is wiser for me to stay with my parents, save the money and buy the land after a few years without having to repay a loan, which always comes with huge interest rates.”

According to her, there is no set age at which a grown up person must move out of their parents’ home.

“It depends on the people involved and their situation. I know a good number of men who still live with their parents even after 30 years of age and with full time jobs.

"If parents encourage independence, most young adults will grow up having learnt a lot from them. Parents have a wealth of experience on diverse issues,” she says.

The teacher believes that for a woman to lead a good life, she should have enough income before getting married.

“Even if I get married to a very rich man today, I will not be comfortable because I won’t have my personal financial freedom. I need to budget for my money but not someone else’s. There is nothing worse than believing that what belongs to someone else is yours,” she says.

“However, as much as I am trying to make what I think is a sound financial decision by living with my parents, I always find myself losing out on my social life.

I rarely go out with friends and when I do, I have to give my parents a good reason why I should be out for a day or two. This also interferes with my relationships.”

As for Patrick Wanjala, 23, a customer care advisor working with one of the major banks in Nairobi, living alone is not that easy, but he says he enjoys the kind of freedom that comes with it.

“I once lived with my parents, but as a man, there is always that pressure from the society that forces one to move out and start their own lives.

That is why I moved to a new house immediately I got my first salary,” he says.

Mr Wanjala adds that in spite of the personal freedom he enjoys, he still feels the pinch of having to take care of all the bills alone. He spends Sh6,000 for rent, Sh3,500 for transport, Sh3,000 for lunch, Sh3,600 for supper and Sh1500 for breakfast.

Live alone

“I have to spend almost Sh20,000 every month to survive in the city. And it’s the price I am paying for choosing to live alone. It is quite expensive because that is almost three-quarters of my salary.”

Mr Paul Muhami, a financial expert, says young adults still living with their parents should use that opportunity to save money for future use.

“Since you have a free ride on most things (food, clothing, shelter), take the opportunity to start saving.

If you have the money, this can be a good time to move out, but if you’re broke, it a great time to get your life back on track without the risk of losing it all by messing up financially,” he advises.