No rent, free food and housing: Why we won't move out of our parents' house

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There have been many discussions regarding the ideal age one should leave home and make a life of their own, but a consensus is yet to be reached.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

What you need to know:

  • A majority of Kenya’s youth, who make up the bulk of the country’s population, are unemployed.
  • Every year, universities and colleges churn out thousands of graduates, yet there are no jobs.
  • Will the young people of Kenya ever achieve financial stability?

There have been many discussions regarding the ideal age one should leave home and make a life of their own, but a consensus is yet to be reached.

This is probably because circumstances vary from individual to individual. For instance, if society demands that you move out by the age of 25, what if you don’t have a job, or if the one you have can barely feed you?

The fact is that society can be very judgmental and tends to impose standards which are supposed to be individually decided upon. There is the expectation that once one has graduated from college, he or she should be responsible in all areas of life without any parental input

But more often than not, this is never the case, as adulthood, especially in the 25-30 age bracket, comes so fast, knocking many off balance, and forcing them to find solace at their parents’ home. MyNetwork had a chat with five young adults who shared their experiences of what it is like to live with their parents.

Crystone Karakacha, 25: Unemployed Industrial chemistry graduate

Crystone moved out of his parents’ home when he was 25, having gotten a casual job at an industrial company. After eight months, however, he was laid off, forcing him to move back with his parents.

He describes that period as “difficult”. He did not have peace of mind. His parents provided a roof over his head, but were never off his case. He had defied his father’s course preference, Education, choosing to study Industrial chemistry instead, a factor that created a strained relationship between him and his father, especially since he had been unable to find a job.


Crystone, who moved out of home, works at a construction site. 

Photo credit: Pool

“I was disappointed that my parents could not understand that I was not to blame for lacking a job,” he says.
There were comforts of living at home, such as regular meals, unlike when he would forgo lunch when living alone so that he could make ends meet. The downside of living at home was that he could not ask his parents for money to meet other needs, since they made it clear that they had done their part by educating him. He was also told that he had to work to eat, and being jobless, he was expected to do any household chore expected of him.

Being the firstborn, he explains that his parents expected him to have a job and start educating his younger siblings, yet there he was, competing for space with them.

“In my case, it was better to go out to the unforgiving world than be a silent burden at home,” he comments.
Drawing from his experience, living at home at a certain age can make one feel like a failure. He is the first person to attend university where he comes from, therefore they wonder why he doesn’t have a job and a place of his own, why he wastes his abilities in the village.

About three weeks ago, he gave in to the pressure and resorted to moving out. He now works at a construction site to fend for himself.

Duke Baraka, 25: Online Content creator

While at university, Duke lived at home and would commute from home to school daily. His parents were not comfortable about him living at the university’s hostels, afraid that he’d fall into bad company. The other reason was that they were keen to cut costs since their home was not far from the school.

Two years after graduating, he is still living at home. He argues that the state of the economy would not allow him to live on his own for even a month before experiencing a financial crisis.

Living at home has its benefits, he says. He does not pay rent, enjoys free good food and has a sense of security. It’s not all merry though since his freedom is curtailed. For instance, he cannot hold a boys’ hangout at home and has to be back by the 9 pm curfew. There are also the occasional misunderstandings with his parents, which wouldn’t be there if he didn’t live with them.

There are also times when his parents pile pressure on him indirectly, comparing him to his friends who have already moved out of the nest anytime he gets out of line or flouts their rules. They also expect him to help out with the chores around the house.

In spite of this, he’s staying put for now.

Duke, 26, has been living with his parents since he graduated from college.

Duke, 26, has been living with his parents since he graduated from college.

Photo credit: Pool

“There is no need for you to suffer and be out in the independency cold while you can just go back to the warmth of family,” he states, adding that you need not beat yourself for being unable to provide for yourself while struggling to maintain an adult image for the society. Sometimes, he quips, and retreating to your parents’ home is the best choice on your menu of troubles.

But there are those that do not agree with him, in fact, he points out, there is no shortage of those that look down on young people like him still living with their parents. He gives an example of a young woman he was wooing who accused him of lacking courage and a sense of responsibility since he still lived with his parents.
But he does not intend to live with his parents forever.

“It is my resolution to move out this year, hoping to get a reliable source of income,” he remarks, adding that even though most parents would not go as far as kicking their children out, they would rather they moved out.

Sharon Maina, 26: Statistician

Sharon considers home a feeling, not a place. Her child is the main reason she still lives with her parents. Though she has a job, moving out, she argues, would be too costly, since she will not only have to rent a house but also hire a house help to care for her child. These are costs she has avoided by living at home, since her mother, who is mostly at home, takes care of her child when she is at work. Home is her happy place as it is the perfect setting for her and her child. There is a sense of belonging for her and she delights in the experience, and also gets to keep her widowed mum company.

There are disadvantages though, such as the long distance that she covers daily to and from work, as well as the rules her mother has in place, and which she has to obey. She contributes to part of the household expenses and also ensures that her child’s needs are met.

Apart from the period she boarded in high school as well as university, Sharon has always lived at home.
“Parental care should not stop simply because one is an adult, there should be no pressure whatsoever to go out to the world and suffer when you can live at home,” she says, adding that just like government offices, the home should have an open door policy where one is welcomed with open arms whenever one needs to seek solace. She is, however, quick to point out that after completing university, one should stick out their neck and work hard to be self-dependent.

Sharon is grateful to her mother, who she relates well with, and appreciates her for taking care of her child. She notes that their mother-daughter relationship has grown stronger and highlights some situations where you find a parent hosting their 20-something child yet treating them like a child. In such cases, one ends up being over-controlled and cannot raise a finger since he or she is provided for by the parent.

Even though she is comfortable with her current living arrangement, people are often surprised that she still lives at home.

Mercy Soina, 25: Works in the hospitality industry

Mercy is of the opinion that by 25, one is “too old” to be living with their parents. According to her, 22 is the ideal age that one should start working towards becoming independent, however, this is not the case as most of her peers still live with their parents because circumstances force them to. She points out that the journey to self-dependency needs lots of planning. 

As a hotel attendant, she is mostly at work and only gets to go home on weekends and off days. These visits, she says, help to keep off peer pressure influences such as too much partying, a factor that allows her plenty of rest.

When at home, she is careful to respect her parents by obeying their rules, such as not staying out late, not sleeping out and doing house chores. 

“Being an adult, you cannot afford to laze around waiting for your parent to feed you, you need to get out and seek ways to also bring food to the table,” is her take.

At 25, she says most people critique her decision to live with her parents, but she believes she has no other option.

Tracy Marion, 26: Sociology graduate

Tracy Marion, 26, is a sociology graduate. 

Tracy Marion, 26, is a sociology graduate. 

Photo credit: Pool

Tracy considers home a refuge, saying that her parents have been accommodating and supportive. When she had an accident last year, they were her support system until she recovered.

When she had a job, before the accident, she says that she would help to foot the bills at home. A stable and well-paying job would be the only drive to make her consider moving out of her parents’ home.
Citing her experience, the only disadvantage of living at home is the lack of privacy. There is limited personal space since she has to coexist with all members of the family. She is also not allowed to have parties, therefore she cannot entertain her friends.

Tracy faults social media for pilling unnecessary pressure on the youth to reach certain milestones. No one should live up to imaginary standards set by opinionated and often privileged people. She is of the opinion that living at home is a personal choice that should be respected. By 25, she had hoped to be living at her own place and supporting herself but this did not work out.

“You would still stress your parents if you left home with no plan,” she argues, adding that as long as you and your parents are satisfied with the arrangement, then nothing else should matter.
Also, she advises, you could use that period at home to save or invest the money you make.

“Financial, emotional and psychological stability are key before taking this big step,” she concludes.