I’m 31 years old, married with two kids, and live with my parents.
It’s absolutely not what I had planned for my life when I was 21 years old… and I couldn’t be more thankful for where I am.
Graduate high school. Go to college. Get a good job. When I was young, these were the clear expectations—not just in my house, but from society as a whole. So I followed those expectations and went to a good school, got my degree, and landed a great job. My wife did the same. Heck, she even got her Masters Degree—with a 4.0 GPA, no less (yes, I married up).
Then the student loans hit. For us, that means nearly $200,000 worth of debt, equalling out to something in the ballpark of $1,400 per month in payments… for the next 12 years. That number is as shocking to you as it is to us. Thank God for “income based” repayment plans, can I get an amen?
We decided to move in with my parents after we got married. At the time, it wasn’t for financial reasons—we didn’t have kids, so we felt like we were loaded. We moved in with them because we wanted the wisdom of a couple 30 years into their marriage. We wanted to watch how they interacted, fought, decided who would make the coffee in the morning, and chose to love each other every single day. We wanted to have the daily opportunity to learn from a couple who have God rooted at the center of their marriage. My wife and I wanted to win, so we put ourselves in the front row seat of a winning relationship.
It wasn’t our long-term plan. We decided we’d spend the first six months with my parents and then move out. But something strange happened—six months came and went and we didn’t want to leave. In fact, all four of us loved our living situation. Sure, you had your normal moments of frustration and even awkwardness (ya know, like having-sex-in-your-childhood-bedroom-down-the-hall-from-your-parents levels of awkward), but the good far outweighed the bad.
Then our first daughter, Arabella, came along. Once more, my wife and I thought long and hard about moving out and into a place of our own. The thought of parenting was daunting. To be honest, the thought of parenting with the soon-to-be grandparents in the same house was also daunting. We looked at our finances, going back and forth at those loan repayment numbers, and realized that while living on our own was doable, it would mean the end of anything extracurricular in our life—vacations, eating out, night at the movies… basically anything you’d consider fun.
While the idea of not having sex in a room 40 feet away from my parents was enticing, the ability to spend our money on experiences with our children and each other would be so much more rewarding. So we stayed.
Here we are, five years after initially moving in, and our multi-generational house is even more crowded. Arabella is two years old, we have a four-month-old daughter, and a third one on the way. It’s messy, loud, and always full of poop. And it’s also overflowing with love and support.
My wife and I thought living with my parents would be difficult—and at times it has been—but we honestly couldn’t imagine life any other way. The money we would be shoveling into mortgage payments and utilities is instead being spent on date nights with our girls, vacations to the beach, and messy dinners at Skyline Chili. (If you work at Skyline, I’m really sorry about the carpet of cheese under our table. It’s the two-year-old, I promise.) And, we’re using this opportunity to attack our debt as aggressively as we can.
Our living situation is radically unusual for today’s world, but it’s also been incredibly rewarding. Seeing the bond that my daughters have with my parents is everything I ever dreamed of growing up. Watching the relationship between my wife and my mother shift from in-laws to mother-daughter has been beautiful. The consistently free childcare is a plus. But, honestly, living in a space where we can fail and constantly be supported has been nothing short of life-altering.
Student debt sucks. I’ve literally had a colonoscopy that was more enjoyable than hitting “pay now” each month. But we chose not to let the weight of that debt define us or limit us. In the end, our children won’t care about the house we lived in—instead, they’ll remember the memories that we all shared together, inside and outside of it.
I’m married with kids and living with my parents. Thanks, college. Seriously.