Boomerang adults: The profits and pitfalls of going back home

Photo credit: Shutterstock

What you need to know:

  • Returning home was once seen as something shameful, but sometimes it is inevitable
  • This is thanks in no small part to a shrinking job market, and an expensive rental market

Life after graduation can be both exciting and frustrating. Due to the high rates of unemployment and the challenges of finding a job as an inexperienced but qualified person, many graduates find themselves with no option except to return home and live with their parents. But before you pack your bags and make such a move, make sure you have examined all angles and thought deeply about your decision.

This week, four graduates who encountered this dilemma after graduating open up about the profits and pitfalls of living with their parents after tasting boundless freedom in college, and explain the reasons they chose to move out of the nest soon afterwards.

Purity Kinuthia, journalist and a graduate from Maseno University.
Photo credit: Bonface Mwangi

Purity Kinuthia, 23

Harmonious living between parents and graduates requires effort from both sides, regardless of how good the relationship between the two may be. Whatever the case, it will require some getting used to, but if parents and children take the initiative, the entire process can be smooth. 

“I still live at home with my mother and I commute to my workplace which is in the same town every weekday. I graduated from Maseno University in 2022 and secured a job four months afterwards. Staying at home was the best choice as I need time to find my footing, even though I am working. 

“It was really difficult for me to adjust from being a young adult with unrestricted freedom while I was living on campus, to living with my parents. I was used to coming and going as I pleased. I had a lot of freedom but now that I’m back home, I have to follow my parents’ rules. 

“Most of my friends are still living with their parents, and we all have similar grievances. Going from doing things your way to having to follow someone else’s rules or methods can be strange and annoying. We all agree on one thing, though. There’s no feeling as satisfying as that which comes from spending time with your loved ones. We are also grateful for the opportunity to work and save money as we get ready to leave the nest.

“Since I am working, I have to help my mother with some bills. However, I am looking forward to moving out and being independent. 

“I miss having my private space. Sometimes, when I get home from work and we have guests, I am compelled to sit with them and have conversations even if I had planned to relax and settle in. This at times irritates me.

“Also, when you have a roof over your head and the necessary resources you need to survive, you may be blinded and deterred from working hard to get a place of your own. You may falsely think that your parents will always have your back. 

“Also, you may start getting into small fights with your family members, which may affect your relationship. For instance, I feel it is a little awkward to have to keep my parents informed if I want to leave the house. You feel like you have to seek permission, and this can be annoying.

“Additionally, living with your parents as an adult may negatively impact your social life. You may not be able to have friends over at your place, so you always have to go visit them. This makes the activities one sided.

(From Left) Bret Olinga, Purity Kinuthia and Brian Omondi.
Photo credit: Bonface Mwangi

Bret Olinga,27
Video Editor

Mr Olinga graduated from St Paul’s University in 2017 and immediately packed his bag and returned to his parent’s home.

“To be honest, the moment I received my calling letter to university, I was so excited. Being independent and in charge of your schedule brings a great deal of joy and excitement. When I moved into my bed-sitter, I had only a bed, a laptop, and a single chair. I was all set to start a fresh phase of my life.

“I lived by my mother’s mantra, which is that every decision has a consequence. I relied heavily on my mother’s advice, but because I was inexperienced and foolish, I made some poor choices along the way.

“By the time we were graduating, I genuinely believed that my four years of living alone had transformed me from a boy into a man. Post-graduation, life truly began kuniramba because I was no longer receiving financial support from anyone and things weren’t as cheap.

“My mother would always say in a sarcastic voice that if I was finding life difficult wherever I was, there is no shame in going back home, and then she would hang up, whenever I called home in need of financial assistance.”

“At one point, I found myself in a difficult situation and decided to return home with the household items I had gathered over the years.

“I moved back to my tiny bedroom. One day, after returning late from a party, I found the gate was locked. I was only permitted to enter after being informed that 7pm was the latest time I should return home.

“From that moment, I realised I needed to come up with an escape plan because I had come too far to allow someone to control something as fundamental as my schedule. Of course, we would argue frequently about a variety of topics. 

“In the middle of 2022, I moved out of my parents’ house after finding a reliable job that would give me a chance to be independent of my mother. 

“The greatest benefit of living at home was that I didn’t have to worry about where my next meal would come from. One drawback of moving out of the nest is that it might make one feel like a failure if they find themselves having to move back into their parents’ house, yet life can be very unpredictable.

Brian Omondi is a business solutions executive
Photo credit: Bonface Mwangi

Brian Omondi, 31 
Business Solutions Executive

Like many who find themselves in this situation, Brian Omondi packed his belongings and returned to his parent’s house. This was after four years of living in his college hostel, enjoying his independence, and having unlimited interactions with his peers. He reveals that the transition was not easy.

Everything looked great as he graduated from St Paul’s University in 2016. He had great aspirations and was full of life. The messages of congratulations from his friends and family members still rang hot in his ears.

“I had no idea what awaited me after college. In school, everything was easy and stress-free. There was never any rush or hurry. The moment I began using time as a gauge of the level of my success, the complexity of adult life became apparent. To adapt to life after college, I had to change everything – from my mindset, to my attire, and even my demeanor. My mother was my driving force. Without her the struggle to adapt would have been much harder.

“As long as I was in her house, I had to ditch my college habits and align with the routine at home. I could no longer sleep and wake up whenever I wanted. It was business unusual.

“Cleaning up around the house and staying well-groomed was a must, otherwise there would be cold war at home. After some time, I just kept hearing a voice saying to me, “You need an upgrade”.

After living with his parents for a year following his graduation, he moved out. He craved a space of his own, and some level of independence. 

“I have never looked back ever since. I face challenges here and there but I live one day at a time. I have only one objective – to keep fighting to become a better version of myself. Looking back will be like taking a bullet to the foot.

“As a business solutions executive, I compete with many other brands, but I believe I am also a brand.

“I chose change because I learnt after my graduation that change is inevitable. For me, every day is a graduation day, as long as I have fulfilled my objective. I can now live independently thanks to that bold step I took a year after graduating.

Shish Davis, 30, is a content creator
Photo credit: Pool

Shish Davis, 30
Content creator

Before graduating from Kenya Institute of Management in 2017, Shish spent the majority of her free time watching YouTube videos about makeup.

Even though her passion was in content creation and makeup artistry, like any other graduate, her dream was to land a well-paying job, and then further her education. She dabbled in the fantastical world of YouTube, convincing herself that it was something she was just doing for fun.

“Even though I excelled using the same strategy, I would not advise anyone to use rebellion as a means of achieving freedom. I liked going out on some nights, but living with my sister was tough because she knew all the tactics in the book—from house-sitting to setting up fictitious sleepovers at friends’ houses to conniving with my other sisters. It could have been much easier to trick my father. 

“Although having a large family was wonderful, there were too many people at home and not enough resources. I couldn’t wait to grow up and eventually move out.

“At 24, I secured a job in a hardware store and after months of saving, I felt grown and ready to spread my wings. I had no idea that it meant more than just paying the rent. Moving out came with so many responsibilities!

“My only goal when I started my first job was to work tirelessly so I could move out. Without letting my parents know, my friends and I went on a joyous house-hunting excursion one evening while we were intoxicated, and I discovered my spot.

“That was the simple part. Getting my sister to agree to let me move out was a daunting task. She required a lot of persuasion and I had to also have a tense talk with my father that left him upset, but I remained firm and by the end of that year, I was living alone.

“The first challenge I encountered was how to manage my new found freedom. It was difficult for me to adjust to this stage of my life. I had too much to figure out, I was stressed about everything, and the stillness in my house was deafening. I had never felt so alone in my life.

“I missed the company of my family members, as well as the comfort of not having to worry about what to eat for the next meal, and most of all, I did not enjoy spending my money on bills.

“Shortly after moving out, Covid-19 came and I suffered a long and unexpected period of unemployment. I had quit my job and managed to get by, but only for a few months.

“Things became unbearable. I packed my belongings and moved to my best friend’s house where I stayed for two months. I was left only with my clothes, a broken heart, and a very confused mind. Before getting to that point, I had tried my hand in various business, so I settled on offering makeup services. Currently, I am a brand ambassador for one of the popular makeup brands.

“As a young woman, living alone taught me a lot about surviving and adulting. The most important lesson, however, was on remaining principled in an environment where I was free to act however I pleased.

“I am glad I took that risk and moved out, even though sometimes I think I should have waited a little longer.