First World Problem of the week

Read the plaint of a young woman who, after college, won’t be supported by her parents for ‘months or years’ (click on screenshot, and note the caption of the photograph):

A quote (their emphasis):

For broke millennials, the reality that we may not be able to lean on our parents as a safety net for months or years after graduation is stressful. I spent a lot of my final year at college worrying about how I’d be able to make the transition.

My dad and I were both poor, so I knew there wasn’t any money sitting around in saving accounts, waiting to cover my moving costs or pay my bills while I looked for full-time work.

I was fortunate in many ways. I was accepted into graduate school, and knew that my grant would be able to help me cover the cost of moving. I was able to share rent and expenses with my long-term romantic partner, and it was an active choice for us to move in together—not something we did out of necessity.

And I was lucky to get a full-time paying job just weeks out of college, and although it didn’t give me any benefits, it allowed me to pay for furniture and a security deposit.

Not all millennials have those opportunities. Many of us are faced with an inability to live with parents or family because they are no longer alive or don’t live in this country.


  1. yazikus
    Posted September 26, 2018 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    On the one hand, as a person who moved out on my own at sixteen, I’m a bit ‘meh’. On the other hand, as a parent, I know I’d happily support kiddo if he needed time post graduation to get his feet under him. I do think it is odd that we shove kids out of the nest at eighteen, and don’t mind the idea of helping out if job prospects aren’t flying through the door.

  2. busterggi
    Posted September 26, 2018 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Damn us old folks who, at 64, are still working one full time and two part time jobs to keep things together instead of having being born rich.

    • Posted September 26, 2018 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      A minority of people are born rich in every generation. Most people still aren’t born rich.

  3. Benjamin Taylor
    Posted September 26, 2018 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately, the cost of renting a place to live in some areas can be crippling. Those who can’t live with their parents can potentially be at a serious disadvantage.

  4. Historian
    Posted September 26, 2018 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    When I went to Everyday Feminism to read the article, a pop-up window appeared announcing a free webinar. The topic was “Why Healing from Internalized Whiteness is a Missing Link in White People’s Anti-Racism Work.” Well, if this isn’t a necessity to fight racism, I don’t know what is. The demand for this webinar must be overwhelming. Actually, I don’t think a webinar goes far enough. The site should establish re-education camps to teach white people how to overcome their original sin. The pity is that the real racists won’t care to attend.

    • Posted September 28, 2018 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      Don’t give them any ideas, please!

  5. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted September 26, 2018 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Yes but – okay, the article is in Everyday Feminism, so the bullshit quotient of the environment is pretty high (e.g. “Join our free webinar on healing from internalized whiteness”). So my kneejerk reaction was entirely predictable.

    BUT the article goes on to make a number of practical suggestions** for people in that position. In fact that’s the point of the article. It isn’t just a privileged whine.

    So I’m not sure what the beef is here.

    ** I assume they’re practical, I’m not in a position to judge.

    • Posted September 26, 2018 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      Yeah I thought the full article was fairly reasonable, despite my expectations.

  6. Jeannie Hess
    Posted September 26, 2018 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    I saw the article as one offering solutions to young people starting out. Making the transition from school to work is new, lonely, expensive, a bit frightening. It’s more scary when there is no support from the family.

  7. Rita
    Posted September 26, 2018 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Not to mention the massive amount of debt many of these students leave with, not like the old days when it was possible for people to work their way through school.

    • mikeyc
      Posted September 26, 2018 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      This is especially notable. We just don’t know what the effect will be on society as these are the first generations to be burdened from the start with that kind of debt.

      As much as I want to get all Olde Fartish and gripe about how whiny kids are today, they kind of have a point when they say we (meaning my generation) has made is really fookin hard for them. Plus we’re the ones who screwed the climate. And elected Trump.

    • Posted September 26, 2018 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      I teach a lot of college students, and at least where I am at (Medium-sized U. in Central Michigan) I don’t see millennials as having problems with overprivilage or angst or whatever. Some do get a lot of help from home (I did), but they take full loads of classes while many must also work either part time or full time. If they get sick for a prolonged time or have a complicating work or ‘life’ situation, I have to remind them that it’s ok to call time out. The exam can wait a couple days.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted September 26, 2018 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

        I have to say that we slam Millennials a lot (though I remember, as Gen X, getting slammed a lot too but then of course forgotten because that is what it is to be Gen X) but I find them to be very kind where my generation was not. For example, I’ve fallen down the stairs twice at work and everyone asked if I was okay and came to help. No one laughed and everyone was very nice. I have also lost both my phone and my bag in the student centre and both times, both items were turned in. One person even found me on FB and send me a message. This would not necessarily be the case when I was in school. You could expect to have lost your stuff for good.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted September 26, 2018 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

          I have to say that I have found the younger generation to be quite considerate.

          Many times on the train teenagers have stood up for me (embarrassing because I *like* standing but it would be churlish to refuse) – usually girls in their late teens.

          I left my camera sitting on the bonnet (hood) of my car at the beach and I was halfway across the beach when someone rang to remind me (the phone number was in my camera bag). I left my phone at the beach so I rang it and the young guy who had picked it up took it home (he lived not far away from me) for me to collect.

          But I have no doubt that when that generation gets old they’ll moan about ‘kids these days’ too. Every generation does.


  8. Michael Fisher
    Posted September 26, 2018 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    A first world problem? That’s probably about right, especially since the 2008 crash & burn. It’s tough out there.

    I looked at Aliana Leary’s Instagram where she’s been recycling the same small supply of clothes for a long time – my impression, from looking around, is she’s living hand to mouth. She’s a Bostonian, disabled [some sort of on/off connective tissue disorder], autistic, queer writer. The intent of the article is to advise on some options for getting a roof over ones head when the bank [& home] of mum’n’dad isn’t an option.

    My sister’s two sons here in the UK are in their early 30s. Adam has recently married, had a kiddo & got on the housing ladder – only possible by saving like crazy while living rent free at mums [my sis]. Shaun is endeavouring to take the same path – he has three jobs & the money is going to the future. He still lives with mum. Both lads have student debt too.

    In my day it was free university education, mortgages were cheap with a need to deposit only between 0% & 5% up front. Walk out of a job at lunch & get another job by 3pm. Easy life.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted September 26, 2018 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      PS She has a pair of “book-loving cats” 🙂

      Blue and


      • Merilee
        Posted September 26, 2018 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

        Blue looks exactly like my dear departed Freddie😻

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted September 26, 2018 at 1:49 pm | Permalink


        • Michael Fisher
          Posted September 26, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

          You must know Freddie Freeloader off Kind of Blue ** [1959]? Miles & ensemble didn’t ‘write’ it in honour of kitties, but it’s nice that Freddie is a song on an album with “Blue” in the title. It’s synchronicity among the jazz cats man!

          ** Second best album after Bitches Brew

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted September 26, 2018 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      Yes, when I graduated we were still in a recession & the unemployment rate was at something like 12%. I remember a friend of mine, trained as a teacher, was working at a grocery store while looking for teaching positions. A woman came in & said “my daughter’s going to university. You don’t want to do this job all your life. You should go to university.” She was quite shocked when my friend told her that not only did she go to university, she is a teacher and the guy bagging the groceries is an engineer. That shut that lady up. Besides, what if she liked that job? Who is that stupid lady to tell her she shouldn’t do that job all her life!

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted September 26, 2018 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        Absolutely & it’s not as if university develops useful ‘value added’, extra-employable citizenry as a matter of course [& it shouldn’t]. It is rather scandalous how ‘customer facing’ people are poorly regarded by many – including their employers. Bods are not rewarded correctly for having the empathy plugin/antennae [mine are intermittent at best!] needed for education, retail & the caring professions. Then there’s the invisibles such as cleaners.

  9. rickflick
    Posted September 26, 2018 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    I thought the piece read a bit like an Onion article. At least for a while. It is a real problem however. I, like Michael Fisher(above), was in pretty good shape when I graduated college in 1970. No debts and at least a temporary job until my ship came in.

  10. Posted September 26, 2018 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    I used to give my high school classes two assignments. The first was to calculate how much it would cost you to move out of your parent’s house (eg. furniture, linens, cleaning and cooking supplies they would need to buy if they couldn’t take stuff from their parents). The second was to calculate the salary they would need to earn to support their lifestyle (eg. find out what rent would be where they wanted to live, cost of groceries, transportation, etc. and then work out how much you would have to earn before taxes to afford that). Needless to say, many students were in shock as to how expensive it was to move out, and how high a salary they needed.

    Incidentally, someone did a comparison of the neighborhoods in Greater Vancouver, Canada of the salary you would have to earn to afford a mortgage to buy a house in that neighborhood versus the median salary of the people who lived in those neighborhoods. Surprisingly, the median salary in every neighborhood was below the salary needed for a mortgage in that neighborhood! (eg. To afford the mortgage on a $1 million house, you would need a salary of say $200 000/yr, and the median salary in that neighborhood was only $60 000/yr.).

    • Kiwi Dave
      Posted September 26, 2018 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      Assuming a steady rise in house prices, it is not surprising at all that house owners, having bought their houses years before at lower prices, now live in neighbourhoods where they can’t afford a modern mortgage.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted September 26, 2018 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        That assumes that house prices have gone up faster than wages. Which is often the case. That implies an increasing gap between the well-off (who dictate house prices because they can afford them) and the lower working classes.

        Of course it may often also reflect that the older suburb has become more desirable, either because it has matured or because it is in a better location than newer cheaper suburbs (or both).


  11. Posted September 26, 2018 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    On a related note, when I graduated from high school, Waterloo University in Ontario started offering a Co-op program in which students did a term of classes, then worked a term in their field of study, then alternated class and work terms until they graduated. The program was great in that you gained experience in your field of study (and usually walked straight into a job upon graduating), and at the time the work term paid for your school term, so you graduated without any debt.

    The daughter of one of my high school friends is now taking the Co-op program in Engineering at Waterloo, and it turns out that just the tuition is now so expensive that you are unlikely to earn enough in your work term to cover it. So even though she is in a well-paying field, she will be going into debt in order to pay for housing, food, etc.

  12. Mark R.
    Posted September 26, 2018 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Gone are the days like my father’s when in the 60’s he had a good union job as a grocery clerk, was able to start a family (a wife and two boys) could afford a 3-bedroom home in San Jose, CA, and go to college (San Jose state was free until Reagan decided that was a bad idea in ’66). He became an accountant and never had a hard time landing a job…and he was laid off several times when first starting out professionally.

    I feel bad for people growing up in America today. To me, the future looks like most Americans will be working 40+ hours a week until the day they die, living hand-to-mouth. Especially if we continue with the deluded, ideological politics of Republicans.

  13. Mark R.
    Posted September 26, 2018 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    BTW, that caption is strange: “Young person is thinking”. Hopefully they are deep thoughts.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted September 26, 2018 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      It may be for web readers that the visually impaired & blind use. I usually put that in the alt text if I have to put an image up, but perhaps captions are used for this as well.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted September 26, 2018 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      It is just the stock image title. It’s available at various image sites, thus iStock by Getty Images calls it “Thoughtful teenage girl” with the additional searchable tags:- “Mixed Race Girl”, Human Face”, “Middle East”, “Asia”, “Woman” & more

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted September 26, 2018 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

        And I thought it was a picture of the author, Alaina Leary!


    • Mark R.
      Posted September 26, 2018 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      Aha, that makes sense. Thanks to you both.

  14. Posted September 26, 2018 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    My kids could stay with me for as long as they need (that won’t be for a while though). I stayed with my mom and dad, though I certainly did not have to after college. If it works it works.

    I take the Karate Kid attitude: if the kids are willing to paint the house, stain all the floors and mortar old walls then they earn their stay, plus they gain good life skills and strengthen their bodies simultaneously.

  15. Posted September 26, 2018 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    There’s higher debt and a lower minimum wage now than there was 40 years ago, and if your parents don’t help you after you graduate high school then you won’t be able to save. Even if you would be great at STEM, if you are a late boomer or were held back by life and don’t have a scholarship waiting, then when you leave the nest you are likely to be stuck in either a blue collar or dead end job for the rest of your life. If you don’t get the education and pay off your debt, then won’t ever be a millionaire unless you win the lottery.

  16. Posted October 26, 2018 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    I think that the stigma should be removed from adults living with their parents. If they are idle, overspending, overdrinking etc, stigmatize them for this underlying fault, but not for living with their parents. I suppose that many millenials are forced to choose between being stigmatized or malnourished.

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