“I moved back in with my parents in lockdown – when am I meant to leave?”

For many people, moving back home to live with their parents during lockdown meant avoiding months spent stuck inside in rented accommodation. But now, as lockdown restrictions ease and life gets back to ‘normal,’ one writer considers when she should go back.

When whispers about the potential for a national lockdown first started circulating in mid-March, everything seemed to move very quickly. One moment I was sitting next to strangers on the bus and hugging my friends and the next, I was high-tailing it out of London to move back home to my parents’ house in West Sussex.

I love London, I really do, but the last thing I wanted was to be stuck inside for weeks on end without access to a garden and lots of open space to walk in. Plus, I’m one of those lucky people whose relationship with their parents resembles more of a friendship than anything, so the idea of getting to spend more time with them (and my dog) felt like a win-win situation.

And it has been. I’ve absolutely loved living at home for the past five months. I’m lucky enough to not still be paying rent in London, so on top of having the company of my family and a fully-stocked fridge, I’ve also managed to save a good chunk of money during the pandemic (my parents don’t want me to pay rent as long as I’m saving). Spending time with my dog has also been incredibly beneficial for my mental health, and when things have got a bit too much, there’s always been a shoulder available to cry on. 

But over the last couple of weeks, the sense of peace I’ve felt throughout lockdown has begun to dissipate. As lockdown restrictions continue to ease and I’ve watched my friends in London get back to ‘normal’, I’ve felt that familiar sense of FOMO creep back in. Because while I know the sensible option is to stay home and save money while I’m still working from home, I can’t help but wonder – when should I get back to normal, too?

I’m not the only one facing this kind of conundrum at the moment. Abigail Buchanan, 23, moved back to her parents’ house in mid-March, and has recently started wondering when she will head back to her rented accommodation.

“I decided to go back home for a number of reasons,” she tells me. “By mid-March I was aware that we could go into lockdown and I didn’t want to be stuck in a London flat with no outdoor space; my flatmates both went elsewhere; my family are from the countryside and so I would have more space for WFH and exercising. For me, it was a no brainer.”

However, despite continuing to pay rent in London, she says she’s not sure when she’ll make that decision to head back: “I’m hesitating to go back because I will potentially be working from home for the foreseeable and I love having more time with my parents/family. But I know I need to go back at some point – I’m starting to get FOMO!”

For Isla Marsh, 26, moving back home became a necessity when her seasonal work as a ski instructor dried up and she was unable to go travelling as she usually would.

“I work seasonally so I rent accommodation in the ski resorts I work in for the time I’m there, and when I’m not working I usually travel or go on holiday somewhere on the way to the next place,” she explains. “I moved back in with my parents because I don’t have anywhere else to go and travelling wasn’t an option.”

While she hasn’t moved out yet as she’s not sure when she’ll be able to get back to work, Marsh explains that she has taken the first steps towards independence.

“I am trying a different tactic this time and buying a cargo van to convert into a home so I never have to move back to my parents’ house again!” she explains. “It’s way cheaper than buying or renting.”

For those of us who decided to move home to our parent’s houses during lockdown, deciding when – or even if – to leave is a big decision. Having parents outside of a city who are able to provide me with accommodation is an incredible privilege, and it’s not something I want to take for granted in any way. 

But at the same time, there’s something strange about living out your ‘adult’ working life from a corner of your childhood bedroom. In lockdown, it felt like a temporary, emergency fix. Now, as everyone else gets back to ‘normal’, it feels a little like I’m playing pretend – like I’m taking part in a life which is only half mine. At the end of the day, there’s that small part of me that tells me that, if I stay here now, I’ll be here forever.

That idea is, of course, completely ridiculous – and when I’m able to look at the situation rationally, I know that. For now, I don’t think there’s any right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding when I head back to London, and I need to remind myself that it’s OK to have doubts and fears about making that decision.

Right now, staying with my parents is the option that works best for me. Not only is it financially responsible, but being away from the ‘London bubble’ has helped me to achieve a better work/life balance.

As I’ve said thousands of times throughout this pandemic, we’re dealing with a situation none of us have ever experienced before – so it’s OK to make decisions and set boundaries which work for you. I know that for some people, spending money to on rent to be around their closest friends is crucial for their mental health, and I wouldn’t want to imply that navigating this situation is easy or straightforward.

At the moment, I know the security that living with my parents brings is what I need, but that doesn’t mean I’ll have to live here forever. After all, if the end of 2020 is anything like what we’ve experienced so far, who knows where I’ll be in a month’s time?

Images: Getty

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