These millennials moved in with their parents once the pandemic hit. One year later, they’re evaluating their independence.

Kerry Justich
·6 min read

Kahlil Spurlock likely didn't picture a future where he'd be living back in his parents's home, calling them roommates and helping his younger brother navigate college virtually when he moved to New York City in his mid-twenties. But like the rest of the unexpected changes that the coronavirus pandemic has brought to people across the globe, the 31-year-old was quick to alter his plan, pack his bags and head back to California to find solace in his childhood bedroom once the pandemic hit.

"I was living in New York at the beginning of the pandemic and I was working at a PR agency. I knew that it was going to definitely shift some of the work that I was doing, but I was told that I was actually laid off," Kahlil tells Yahoo Life. "Nobody wants to say that they're moving back in with their parents, right? But New York was way too expensive to live without a job."

For Kahlil, the decision to call his parents was a simple one since he felt like he had no other option. And while his dad, Warren Spurlock, and mom, Juativa Spurlock, were ready to welcome him home, Kahlil had some reservations about trading out his pricey apartment for a free room next to mom and dad.

"The independence wasn't really there anymore. I relied a lot more on my parents. I had to communicate more in terms of the stuff that I was doing," he says of returning to live under his parents's roof.

Many others in his situation, including 27-year-old Jake Dylan who moved back home to Marlboro, N.J. from New York City, felt the same apprehension. The artist, who made money by substitute teaching and waitering while auditioning for Broadway and film, tells Yahoo Life that he was "bummed" to leave the hustle and hard work behind in favor of security in his parents's home. He too worried about his independence.

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"Deciding how much time to spend with each other," he says was one of the initial struggles of moving home. "In the beginning of the pandemic we really all didn’t go anywhere beyond the grocery store and walks around the neighborhood. If we had spent every waking moment together we would’ve all gone crazy. So we decided to have time to do our own thing — whether it be work from home or watch movies — during parts of the day, and take other parts of the day like dinner time to all be together and chat."

Dylan adds that "setting boundaries" was a priority for not only himself but also for the other members of his family who weren't used to sharing space as adults. "For the most part, it was a rule that went without saying. Everyone was super respectful of each other," he says.

The need for personal space was one of the first things on Kahlil's mind after making his way back to California, explaining that he told his parents that he needed a door lock — something that he hadn't had when he was living in their home prior.

"It's just a peace of mind knowing that they can't just randomly barge in whenever they want to," he says. "It's almost getting into that same kind of environment that you were in before you left, but also making it better."

Where Kahlil had trouble, however, was in claiming ownership of some of the shared spaces of the house, after having gotten used to his own space in New York. Juativa says this became a relevant issue when it came to food. "If there's something that he bought that he likes and he goes to the cupboard and it's not there, he wants to know who ate it."

David Christopher Lee, a 38-year-old photographer who returned to his parents's Huntington Beach home from his own apartment in West Hollywood, admits that food was a big fight amongst his family. "We would get into arguments over the food they were eating. They would eat a lot of pizza and spaghetti and I kept telling them that those were not good to eat on a regular basis," he tells Yahoo Life.

Still, while evaluating his parents's habits, Lee also ended up working on his own. "Previously, I was living a life of excess — way too much food and alcohol. I was moving at a million miles a minute. When the parties stopped, I got rid of my FOMO [fear of missing out] and learned that I had everything I need at home," he says. "2020 was my year of self-exploration and balance."

Natalie, a 23-year-old who moved back in with her parents on the west coast from an apartment in San Francisco, similarly learned more about herself through the process and even built a social media presence as Corporate Natalie during her time living, working and dating from her childhood bedroom. She even found that doing so helped her to maintain her independence.

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"While part of me felt like moving back home was against the ‘plan’ I’d set out for my post-grad life, I had to accept that everyone around the world was leaning into the uncertainty of pandemic life," she tells Yahoo Life about her initial decision to follow the lead of her friends leaving major cities. "My parents have always taught me the importance of independence, be it social independence, financial independence or creative independence to express myself. I think recently growing my TikTok and Instagram accounts to showcase relatable millennial work-from-home content has bread newfound independence. The ability to craft my own brand and navigate brand partnerships all while continuing to work a full-time job has put my independence and ability to manage my time effectively to the test."

While Natalie is set to move out of her parents's home come April, and feels ready to "regain the direction I pictured my life going before the pandemic hit," the others don't have plans yet. Similarly to Natalie, however, they all are confident that their time at home hasn't hindered their future.

"I'm very independent and I can adapt to my environment quickly so my transition back to independent living will be easy," Lee says, while Dylan shares a similar sentiment: "It will for sure be hard to get back to the groove of being independent, but as is life, and in order for one to grow they have to advance to the next level."

As for Kahlil, who is now working remotely in a full-time job and studying as a part-time graduate student in a virtual New York University program, independence isn't as much of a concern as is where he'll end up living next. In the meantime, his father Warren shares just how proud he is of his son after watching him survive this difficult year.

"He's a manager, he's a leader," Warren says. "This kid has grown up."

And after a year of being surrounded by family, Kahlil says that the biggest lesson he's learned is how strong his support system really is. "I think I knew that, but now I really understand that," he says.

— Video produced by Nurys Castillo

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