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I’m still living at home in my twenties, so how do I know when to move out?

WORDS BY EVANGELINE POLYMENEAS

Family, food and decisions.

If you can’t tell by my name, I’m a wog; a pure Mediterranean Italian and Greek baby. This means that my dad (he’s Greek) doesn’t let me say a word without telling me that its origin is Greek (thanks Dad, love you). And my mum (she’s Italian) always made me two salami sandwiches for school (one for me and one for my Australian friend, of course).

My parents always remind me that I come from the two best civilisations in the world in a very typical wog style. Every election my Dad looks at me and says, “You see Evangeline, democracy! You’re welcome.” Don’t worry, I am rolling my eyes too. 


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Don’t get me wrong though, being Italian and Greek is something I am forever proud of, and I’m grateful that I’m able to be myself freely in a country like Australia. Being Italian and Greek means that I get two Easters, the best food in the world (not biased, just a fact) and a huge family, filled with relatives that I am not actually blood-related to, despite calling them my cousins. You would think it’s hard to remember everyone’s names but don’t worry I just have to remember two: Nick and Maria.

My parents are amazing and have given me so much freedom, so when I told them I was thinking about moving out I was shocked to hear their response: “No,” they both said in unison. To understand the full picture, here’s some perspective. My mum’s parents placed a severe 2am curfew on her until she was 26 (the curfew stopped because she got married to my dad and moved out with him). The curfew was strict despite my mum being a full-grown adult and the head of a department at the hospital she worked at. 

When Mum was 24, she was 15 minutes late coming home after a night out with friends. When she arrived back to her family home, she was greeted with blue and red flashing lights, two police officers and her mum, Maria, standing there in her nightgown and curlers. “Angela, why you do this to me, you embarrass me infront of these nice men, look what you made me do!” my nonnina screamed at her, apologising to the police profusely. 

Understandably, my mum was kind of scarred from her childhood and vowed to raise me and my sisters with a bit more freedom. My dad, on the other hand, was raised on a farm in Renmark with all the freedom in the world and when he was 14 he moved to Adelaide without his parents and continued to live just the same. So when it came to Mum’s choice to raise her children with copious amounts of freedom, he didn’t think there was any other way. 

Fast forward in time, their daughter (me) is 23-years-old, with a steady and serious long-term boyfriend in tow, a stable income, and an eagerness to sign a rental agreement. What could go wrong? A lot, apparently. 

“But why?” I asked my parents in response to their rejection. “Julia has moved out!” Julia is my 18-year-old sister who moved to Canberra for uni. “Because she moved for uni!” my dad responded. ‘Okay, fair,’ I thought begrudgingly. Feeling a bit deflated, I looked up ‘reasons to move out’ in an attempt to bolster my case. Here’s what I found out about my readiness to leave the nest once and for all.

You are more independent than dependent 

“You don’t even know how to cook a lasagna yet!” Mum cried. “Yes, I do, Mum,” I responded. “But you use the premade sheets! That doesn’t count.” Mum was genuinely having a panic attack. “PREMADE!” she yelled.

She isn’t wrong. My cooking isn’t up to scratch and she isn’t the only one telling me. My boyfriend is one of the best cooks I know. He likes to remind me how he carries the weight in this part of our relationship. Mum might see my inability to cook as a weakness, but I see it as smashing down gender stereotypes (you’re welcome feminism). 

“Hey but I know how to clean and do washing,” I retorted. “Call up the doctor and book an appointment,” my mum smirked. She got me there. “Can you book online?” I asked.

The journey to independence is long and tiresome. I would like to hope that I am close. Surely moving out speeds up the process? Do I grow into independence in the comfort of my family home? My parents seem to think that’s the safest idea, but I’m not so sure.

You are financially stable

“The economy!” my mum yelled. “What about it?” I asked. “Nope, it’s silly to move out,” Mum said, ignoring the question about the economy. “You have a nice home here with us, we don’t charge you board or anything, stay and save money.” 

This is their strongest argument. I am in a very lucky situation. My parents are in a position to continue to allow me to stay in their home rent-free. It would make sense for me to stay and lap up these benefits to save money, wouldn’t it? 

This point is the toughest for me. I am in a financial position to move out, but there is no harm in saving that money. I guess it is a matter of figuring out what I value more – moving out and living my own life, or saving money so I can potentially purchase a home faster. Knowing me though, the money I save would likely just be funding a new bag.

You desire the freedom

“We let you do whatever you want,” my dad said. “What more could we even do?” And he is right, I do get a lot of freedom. Although sometimes it is met with my parents telling me, “You treat this home like a hotel!” When I hear that, I know it’s time to step up my dishwashing game and maybe cook a meal (but definitely not lasagna). 

Freedom has always been a difficult concept to grasp. I can do anything I like, but when I am in my parents’ house, I obviously need to respect them. This means, when I come home late, I have to navigate the corners and turns of my house with my phone light and memorise each squeak in the floorboards, so I don’t wake them up.

I guess what I am saying is that I kind of want to be able to be as loud as I want, and when I come home drunk from a night out, turn on every light switch I see and cook a feast (in this fantasy I know how to cook). 

Lastly, you are butting heads with your parents

I remember vividly one night when I was a child and everyone was over at my nonnina’s. There were plates filled with food all over the table so there was barely any room for our drinks. Have you seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Very much those vibes. My aunts, uncles and parents were yelling at each other over the table, their hands were rapidly moving and saliva was being mixed with the pizza. 

I turned to my aunty and whispered to her, tears about to sprout, “Why is everyone fighting?” She responded, “Oh darling, we aren’t fighting, we are just talking.” To an outsider looking in, one may mistake my relationship with my parents as one filled with turbulence and issues. We are Italian and Greek, so we are loud.

One time after a discussion about Lara Bingle, my neighbour even pulled me aside when I left the house, to ask if I wanted him to call someone to help me. So embarrassing. I never actually butt heads with my parents, though. I genuinely have the best relationship with them, founded on mutual respect (don’t worry they aren’t forcing me to write this, I am doing it all on my own, *note* my independence here). We can step on each other’s toes, sure, but isn’t that normal? So no, constantly butting heads isn’t really a motivating factor for me. 

To move out or not to move out, that is the question

I think I might hang around a bit longer, at least until I finish uni. The food is good and I like it here.

Considering moving out? Give this a read.

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