To stay at home or to move out, is this a real dilemma?

Moving out from your parents’ or relatives’ house might be an easy decision to make but it also needs to be well thought out. PHOTO | FILE

What you need to know:

  • Some parents have even gone to the extent of evicting their own children from home.
  • But some encourage their young adults to stay at home until they are stable.

The need to stay at home or move out is increasingly becoming a question of economic situation and not a matter of age.

In Kenya, attaining 18 years means that you are an adult but to some quarters, it also translates to ‘it's time to move out from your parents or relatives’ homes.

Some parents have even gone to the extent of evicting their own children from home. In May this year, an upstate New York couple shocked the world when they filed a lawsuit against their 30-year-old son. They wanted him out, his jobless status notwithstanding!

However, there are also those relatives who encourage their young adults to stay at home until they are stable – it doesn't matter when.

Interestingly, the need to stay put or move out from home is increasingly becoming a question of economic situation and not a matter of age.

Ahead, we speak to six young people in their twenties who share more about their reasons for moving out or staying at home.

Dickens Ngicho during an interview at Nation Centre, Nairobi, on September 21, 2018. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO

Dickens Ngicho

Student& Social media manager

Dickens Ngicho, 26, a fourth year mass communication student at the University of Nairobi lives with his foster mother and her family. “It is for financial reasons. I am funding myself through school and paying for my brother’s tuition and upkeep expenses. As such, it is not financially viable to move.”

To meet the expenses, Ngicho works as a digital skills trainer with Google Africa and works as a social media manager for NTV’s Wicked Edition.

“I had considered moving out twice but I figured that I would just be getting myself into a deep hole. Before my foster mother took me in, I had once rented a place and within two months, I was locked out due to rent arrears,” he says.

Although he has to make an hour commute to school on a daily basis, Ngicho says that in some ways, staying at home has had a positive impact on his studies and work.

“I don’t have to stress over rent or what to prepare for meals as most times I come home to already prepared meals. However, I help out with household chores such as cleaning in the evenings or during the weekend,” he says.

Ngicho notes that staying at home has not affected his relationships in any way.

“For instance, in my previous relationship that just ended last month, I would invite my ex-girlfriend over and spend time with my step siblings, although this had to be when my mum wasn’t around,” he notes.

One positive aspect of Ngicho’s situation is the fact that his mother is comfortable with him staying at home. “She says that I should only move out when I am stable and ready.”

“These reassurances coupled with the fact I get to do the things I like such as listening to loud music reduces the desire to move out. Also the few friends that I have stay in hostels and they actually keep telling me how lucky I am to be staying at home. For me, there’s no pressure at all.”

Accountant Lydia Tum during an interview at Nation Centre, Nairobi, on September 23, 2018. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO


Lydia Tum


Lydia Tum, 24, an accountant admits that living at home has had detrimental effects on her social life and more so on her finances.

“Staying at home means that you are under the authority of your parents or siblings. In my case, I cannot go out or invite friends over any time I want. I live with my elder sister and her family and although she doesn't have an issue with my friends visiting, it doesn't feel right to crash her place”.

She says that her boyfriend is understanding and this has played a key role. “He understands that we can't meet as often as we would wish, or engage in long calls at particular times”.

If her path had rolled out as she had wished, she would have moved out after campus. “I haven't been lucky to find a stable job since I graduated in 2014 – only short contracts. I don't want to move out and still have my family worried about me,” she says.

Lydia confesses that sometimes she gets questions like, ‘you still stay with your family’? ‘I couldn't do it a month longer!’ “Sometimes, it feels like you are behind everyone else.”

However, she doesn't let it get to her.

“Staying at home has come with its own benefits. I don't pay any bills; just helping with household chores. Additionally, by staying at home, I feel like I have been shielded from many things out there. There are things that I might have been tempted to do if I was living on my own.

“On the flip side, I haven't managed to make any significant savings from what I earn, spending most of it on clothes or shoes. Also, the fact that I can't organise the house the way I want drains me at times. My sister and I don't even enjoy the same TV programmes. Trivial as this may sound, sometimes arguments ensue,” she adds.

Even though her sister has been supportive and doesn’t give her any pressure to move out, she looks forward to the day she will move out with much longing and as such, she is focused on job search.

“I am committed to looking for a job and I am trying to grow my clothes selling hustle. I hope to move out soon.”

Victor Ambuyo, a web developer, during an interview at Nation Centre, Nairobi, on September 24, 2018. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO.


Victor Ambuyo, 23

Web developer, Oratech solutions

Victor, 23, a software developer left his mother’s house when he was a third year student in 2016.

“My primary need was to get closer to school but I also felt mature enough to live on my own, make my own decisions and be in total control of my life. Furthermore, my businesses – software development and phone repairs – were picking up well”.

His mother was supportive but also kept the doors to her home open in case things didn’t work out.

“When you move out of your parents’ home, you go out with hope that all will be well. My first few months were pure bliss. With what I earned from my hustles, I was able to comfortably sustain myself. My friends found a new hang-out and kept saying how they admired my lifestyle,” he says.

However, as months went by, the returns from his business dwindled and soon he couldn’t afford to pay his rent. Also, the ecstasy of living alone had somehow fizzled and in its place came the worry for pending bills.

“After four months of living on my own, I woke up one day and realised that I couldn’t manage to raise the rent. I packed up and left for my aunt’s place,” he explains.

He spent six months reflecting about his life and the mistakes he might have made.

“I realised that I was a spendthrift and when I moved out again last year in May, I made sure that I worked on a budget and I always have some money set aside for bills like rent,” he says.

“I should have continued to stay with my aunt but I realised that there’s no single day one will be stable enough to leave home. If you keep saying, ‘I will move out when I have this much’, that day might never come.”.

Sandra Nkatha during an interview at Nation Centre, Nairobi, on September 25, 2018. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO

Sandra Nkatha

Human Resource Officer

One year after graduating from Mount Kenya University, Sandra, 26, a human resource officer, decided to move out of her sister’s home.

“I used to live with my sister and her family. There, I had almost everything I needed but I wanted to be independent.

Her sister was hesitant about the move but after a little convincing, she gave in and even helped her move.

“I didn’t have many household items when I moved out. The idea was to furnish the house once I got in,” she explains. “At that time, I was working as a sales executive for a mobile company and I thought that my earnings would sufficiently meet my expenses.”

However, for the first few months, life was not easy because she had to worry about all the bills and she missed the warmth and love of her sister’s place.

“I knew that I could go back if I wanted to but that would have been taking many steps backwards. At her place, I was able to save a lot but when you live alone, you have to hustle hard and work with a budget,” she adds.

According to Sandra, she didn’t receive any outward pressure to move out but she admired people living alone and imagined how life must be good – going out for sleepovers and having friends around.

“When I moved out though, I realised that I actually didn’t like going out or having people invade my personal space. Moving out made me an introvert – I spend most of my evenings and weekends in the house doing house cleaning, reading or watching movies,” she says.

Although she sometimes craves the company of her family, moving out helped her grow.

“I am a better planner, hard worker and a better decision maker. Even if I lost my source of income, I think I would still figure it out on my own,” she explains.

Luckily for her, she didn’t face any stigma even after going back to home after campus. “Most of my friends actually thought that I was lucky to have my family around. I think that whether to stay at home or move out should be a personal decision and no one should feel pressured,” she opines.

Brian Oenga during an interview at Nation Centre, Nairobi, on September 23, 2018. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO

Brian Oenga

Environmental analyst

Brian, 26, an environmental analyst shares the house with his grandmother. For him, staying at home means not having to worry about any bills.

“I only pay for internet, a few thousands every month. However, it also means having to do all household chores and adhering to the set rules,” he says.

And his grandmother has quite a number of them. “I cannot come home past 11pm and she doesn’t eat takeaway. So, even when I have eaten out, I still have to cook for her,” he explains.

Thankfully, his grandmother is still strong and able to attend to some household chores. “She meets other bills,” he says.

Brian would love to move out, but without a stable job or a good source of income, he finds it unreasonable. Besides, the thought of leaving his grandmother alone doesn’t go down well with him.

“I graduated last year with a degree in Environmental and Biosystems engineering. However, I haven’t been lucky to find a job only two-three months’ contracts.

Has staying at home affected his social life? In some ways, he says.

“Most people think that young people who stay at home are still ‘children’, which is definitely not the case. Dating while still at home is also an issue because your partner might want to visit.

“In my case, we had to meet in restaurants or at a friend’s place because according to my grandmother, bringing a girl home sends signals like - this is the one I want to marry. I wanted to be sure about that choice,” he offers.

Although staying at home has had its downfalls – sometimes it gets one too comfortable, it has also had its advantages.

“I get to save most of what I earn. My grandmother is also rich in words of wisdom and life tips. She says that I should only move out when I am stable and I have bought house furniture and utensils. She also encourages me to have a strong saving culture,” he adds.

Brian notes that before he moves out, he will ensure that he has around six months’ rent saved and has bought household essentials.

“However, I will probably move a few blocks close to her so I can be checking on her. Besides, I am so used to living in Eastlands.”

University of Nairobi student Osolife Otuma during an interview at Nation Centre, Nairobi, on September 23, 2018. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO

Osolife Otuoma


At 19 years, Osolife, a first year journalism student at the University of Nairobi, decided to move out in pursuit of freedom and to escape his mother’s reprimands.

“My mother was worried for me because I didn’t have any source of income while my dad gave me the go-ahead with a warning that out there, things were tough,” he says.

For the first four months, he had nothing much to worry about because his elder sister played host, he explains.

“However, she was transferred to another county leaving me the burden of meeting all the house bills. Luckily, our parents owned the house so there was no rent to pay.”

Away from his parents, he had the freedom he wanted – go out to friends’ houses and not have to worry about curfews.

However, it opened him up to the little things that he took for granted.

“I realised that putting a meal on the table required not only time but also money to buy the ingredients. I didn’t have a job then, so I had to find a way to survive.”

Did he consider going back home? Twice, he says. “I, however, decided to stay put because I couldn’t imagine having to give up my personal freedom. To survive, I used to sell liquid soap, a skill I had acquired from one of my aunts during a one-month stay with her,” he explains.

What he used to earn from the business enabled him to meet his daily expenses but left him with barely anything to save. It was living hand-to-mouth.

“For a period of one year that I stayed on my own, I made no savings but I was content that I was able to live life the way I wanted. It made mature in terms of organisation, self-control and aggressiveness,” he says.

And even if he would be allowed to do as he pleases at his parents’ home, going back is not an option.

Having lived on his own, he feels he cannot stand hostel rules and now rents a house outside school.




Moving out from your parents’ or relatives’ house might be an easy decision to make but it also needs to be well thought out.

If you don’t want to find yourself in a pitfall, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

Can I cover my bills?

If you cannot pay your rent and meet other bills, is moving out reasonable?

Do I have an emergency fund?

In the event that you lost your source of income today, can you still manage to meet your expenses at least for another month or two? It is important that you have some money set aside for such eventualities.