A hot cup of tea on arrival, fresh home-cooked meals, fluffy towels and sparkling clean surroundings. If that was a hotel you’d booked, you’d be pretty happy with your deal. Well, for many Indian 20 and 30somethings, that’s exactly what they’re getting if they choose to stay at home with their parents.
If you think about it, it makes practical economic, social and environmental sense. With the current recession and overpriced housing market, the property ladder is hard to climb, and renting is expensive. Plus, living en masse is eco-friendly, and you’re also benefiting from a strong family support system that has long been part and parcel of Indian culture. In Mediterranean countries, men (and women) do this all the time. In fact, in some circles, the idea of renting a flat in the same city is considered unusual, if not quite strange.
But why then, do some of us with our own places find it distinctly off-putting when we meet a potential partner who lives with their parents? As a woman, I often wonder if these men may have unrealistic expectations of their partners after years of being pampered by their mother. Of course, many men would be contributing financially, often generously, so I’m not suggesting a simplistic advantage of just getting ‘free board’. But they are invariably getting their cooking, cleaning and ironing done - so where and when will they learn those skills if they don’t have them by their early 30s?
You could say we’ve gone backwards in this respect. Whereas it was once more common to leave home at 18, get married young and set up home in your early 20s, now it can be your late 30s before that happens. And if you’ve lived at home for the bulk of that period, it’s a steep learning curve. I’ve not lived at home since I was 18 and that early independence has shaped me as a person and I look for that streak in others.
Anyone rational understands that it is not always possible to live away from home, be it for financial or family reasons. And often, the reason will be simply, ‘Why not? I like living at home.’ Fair enough. But if the reason is simply because ‘it’s easier’, that’s when the alarm bells ring. Loud and clear.