Thursday, May 19, 2011

Why Asian Sons Live (Keep Living) At Home - Why The Hate?!

I don't know why I keep blogging about Asian people. It just worked out that way, I guess. Last post about Asian people for awhile, I promise. *peace sign*

Okay, so, let me tell you about something that bothers me.

And bear with me here.

About a year ago, I was hanging out at a friend's house. No big deal. I think we were having a Games Night of some sort. But, anyway. It was an evening where I was hanging out with some of my friend's friends, who were a bit older than me. Most of these individuals were in their mid/late twenties. I think the oldest guy there was about 28. Which, whatever. I didn't mind. They were cool people. And it was a fun night.

But, ever meet certain people who just rub you the wrong way? I was chatting with one of the guys sitting near me, and he was telling me about how he had just bought his own place. A condo downtown, you know? Awesome. It's always nice to hear people getting places downtown.

But, this is when I started getting annoyed. Aside from the fact that I already privately thought he was a cocky, self-indulgent narcissist, he leaned over and started talking about a mutual friend of ours. In the absolute worst way possible.

Our mutual friend is in his late 20s. He's a really nice guy. He`s Chinese. A little quiet. But really cool. He works downtown, plays sports, into video games. The usual. But, you see. Here's the thing. Mutual Friend still lives at home with his parents.

So Cocky Narcissist (hereafter known as CN) leans over and says, "What is it about Asian men living at home even when they're older? The guy is 27 years old. Why doesn't he move out? I always notice this with my Asian friends, I don't understand it. That's weird, man. And kind of gross."

I had to resist the urge to lean over and smack him.

Here`s another story. I have another friend in his late 20s. Pretty cool guy. I`ve known him for years. Our families are friends. He`s Filipino. Etcetera. He works downtown, plays sports. He`s into boxing, video games. The usual. But, again. Here`s the thing. Friend lives at home with his parents. And has no plans on moving out.

Except, he`s been getting tremendous flak from the guys at work. Apparently, it`s "weird" that he doesn`t have his own place now that he`s older. Why aren`t you moving out already? You`re 28 years old, why don`t you live on your own? Why do Asian men tend to live at home longer than they're quote on quote "supposed to"?

By all means, I know this "living at home" business isn`t a racial thing. I know this can be an issue with non-Asian 20-somethings in general, men or women. But, for the sake of specificities, cultural implications, and focus for this blog post, I`ll deal with Asian men for now. And, mostly for the sake of dealing with the comments of the above mentioned CN, I`ll deal with Asian men for now.

In this grad life of ours, as we grow up, and many of us move away from home, I notice that we tend to pass (often negative) judgement on those who still live with their parents. Unemployed? Lazy? Gluttons who mooch off their parents? You know it crossed your mind. And I find that this sort of judgement is, at times, harsher on men.

But, see, sometimes actual reality is far from that judgement.

Let me clarify and explore a few issues here.

First, I'm not surprised (though nevertheless annoyed) that people make this a gender issue. Why zero in on men? If a 28 year old woman still lives with her parents, would it still be this much of an issue? The individuals I mentioned above don't seem to be harassing women in their late 20s about moving out, why are men being pressured to move out instead? Particularly by their friends? Is it some kind of "man thing" to have your own condo by the time you're 28 years old?

Oh, god. Please. Spare me the gender specific responsibilities. I already get enough flak from people who think I shouldn't go to law school because I'm a girl.

Second, and more pertinent to what I want to focus on today, I was initially surprised (or maybe not?) that people make this a cultural issue. Like I said above, isn't the move-out-you're-getting-old issue pertinent to any 20-something, regardless of cultural background? Yet, I've started to notice that people tend to assume that Asians are more likely to live at home in their later 20s than their non-Asian counterparts. Is there some truth to this?

And, in response to CN's comments above, are Asian men more likely to live at home in their late 20s (versus non-Asian male counterparts)? And if so, why?

Well, let's try to answer that.

Because, well, it`s funny. I find it ironic that my friend described above gets flak from his coworkers about moving out, yet doesn't hear a word of it from his parents. You`d think it would be the other way around, no? That his parents would kick him out because he's older, self-sufficient, and therefore ready to move out? Yet, from what I`ve witnessed with my own friends and family (and, uh, I have a lot of Asian friends), Asian parents don`t tend to mind if their 20-something son still lives at home with them. Even when they've reached their 30s.

In response to CN's comments above....

The truth is, Mom and Dad don't mind if he stays home. He may have a job, a steady income, and with the capacity to move out - but, he wants to live at home. And he most likely will for another little while, until he finds a reason to move out (i.e. job location, school, or perhaps just an urge for independence). Of course, if their son wants to move out, his parents wouldn't stop him. But, in general, I don`t think I`ve heard a story where Asian parents harass their sons to move out simply because of his age or because he has a steady income.

I have a 30 year old friend. Asian. Male. Still living with his parents. Perhaps even until he gets married. And both parties are completely content with the arrangement.

Some people find that disgusting. Or disturbing. I find it normal. His friends, of course, make fun of him mercilessly for living with his parents when he's clearly an adult. He makes good money. He has a steady job. So why doesn't he move out, you know?

We tend to assume that people live at home with their parents because they have no other choice. That they don't have the income to move out, that they just don't have the ability (yet) to independently buy their own property. That they would rather live elsewhere than home. (And sure, in many cases, this could totally be the reason why they stay at home). But the thing is, others who have the ability to be self-sustaining have a choice. And sometimes, they choose to live with their parents. Because they want to.

Can't you be independent and live with your parents? Can't you have a job, pay for your meals, pay for your clothing (or whatever independence entails) and stick close to your family?

Is that such a foreign concept?

I hesitate to make this a cultural thing. But I kind of, sort of, will. I think the pressure to move out for 20-something Asians is lower in Asian families, simply because of the huge emphasis placed on collectivity and family. To put it bluntly, culturally, I've noticed that many Asian parents see their children living with them until marriage (and even beyond that). Of course, if their kids want to move out, they wouldn`t stop them. If their son or daughter wants to move downtown for work purposes, or for other reasons, they wouldn't stop them. But, until their children make that choice, or until it's absolutely necessary, Asian parents quite rarely kick their children out of the house simply because the closeness of family will always come first. We've heard enough about Confucianism.

In response to CN's comments....

I don't think our mutual friend is weird at all. Sure, he has a steady job. Sure, he could move out if he wanted to. But he doesn't because his family is closer than you know. Because he loves his sisters and wants to watch them grow up. Because he would rather stick around and live with the comfort of his parents. He'll move out when he wants to, got that?

Reader, does this sound weird to you? From what I`ve witnessed growing up, it`s completely normal to see Asian men and women in their late 20s still living with their parents at home until the day they get married or move in with a significant other. It wasn`t until people started pointing out its "weirdness" that I started thinking about the cultural implications of all this. I've stressed enough times on this blog how important and emphasized family values are to Asian families. On keeping the family together.

So, why the hate and ridicule placed on Asian men (or, I guess, to a lesser extent, women) who live at home? If they choose to do so, is it really our place to pass negative judgement? It irritates me, it really does.

Third, on the practical level, on the whole, living at home is the cheaper, no? So, why the hate on living at home when you're older? If it saves money, cut these guys some slack, yea?

So the next time you encounter a friend (or, anyone, really) living at home - think twice before you judge them as lazy, good-for-nothing, unemployed sloths. There may be other reasons why they live with their parents. To some people, family is more important than you know.

But, anyway, I guess that`s my semi-defense of 20-something Asian men still living at home. I understand you, friends. I really do!

"I don't care how poor a man is; if he has family, he's rich."
- Dan Wilcox and Thad Mumford, "Identity Crisis," M*A*S*H

"Our most basic instinct is not for survival, but for family. Most of us would give our own life for the survival of a family member, yet we lead our daily life too often as if we take our family for granted."
- Paul Pearshall

"The great gift of family life is to be intimately acquainted with people you might never even introduce yourself to, had life not done it for you."
- Kendall Hailey, The Day I Became an Autodidact


  1. Yes! I like this post because I can relate. I'm becoming one of those mid twenties guys (Noooo!)!! My parents want me to live with them forever. They feel that it is their duty to care and provide for their children until they are no longer capable of doing so and when they are no longer capable, then they expect their children to reciprocate. Living under one roof makes this much easier and that is what they prefer. Economically, it has always been my mother's dream to live in a bigger house and unfortunately, it is not affordable unless my brother and I help with the mortgage. So my brother and I live at home and offer some of our income, allowing our family to live in a bigger house.

    Speaking about being provided for... my dad just came down and gave me an orange. I asked him why he's spoiling me and he said that bringing it to me is easier than yelling for me to get it, hahaha.

  2. I'm Asian , but I moved out when i was 19, and bought my own place when i was 21, I'm 24 now , but I think that it depends on the person , as far as family goes we are close but I need my space .

  3. Hey, I'm one of those 28yr old dudes living with his parents.

    I was on my own from 18-27, went to college then got a job in DC while my parents were living in Asia. Then my father was transferred to DC, what a coincidence.

    I'm half asian through my mother, so she of course wanted me to move in, I was super hesitant precisely because of the stigma attached to it (and my white gf at the time was giving me a lot of shit for it), although it's more and more common today (thanks economy), I have a cousin my age in Utah doing the same thing. As you stated, it is a big money saver. I was paying 800 bucks a month for a freaking room in a 5 bedroom townhouse with 4 other guys, which by that point had gotten pretty annoying and is akin to throwing away money every month.

    So I figured what the hell, my parents wound up buying a new huge ass house via foreclosure (thanks economy rofl) with a completely finished basement with separate entrance, 2 bedrooms, big living room and full bath to myself.

    For 0 bucks I have no complaints, I basically have my own apartment. They let me do my thing and as an only child my parents get to see me and I get to spend time with them, they're not getting any younger. Plus I know have an extra 800 bucks a month which I use to skydive with now lol.

    I don't get why white people hate on us so much. Well, not all white people, a lot of them actually think it's a smart move now.

    /end long reply from stranger

  4. Thanks for your comments :)! Good luck with your decisions!

  5. I think the real reason is not about culture or race, but because of economics and because of a lack of balls.

    Asian people need to take economic resources from their elites and demand for the same worker rights as those in liberal democracies: basic rights to owning a car, buying a house, having children as long as you can pay for it... rights and freedoms like that are important, which explains why Asian children tend to stay at home simply because they have no other alternative.

    It really depends on WHAT we are talking about here.

    Are we talking about a;; ASIAN people? Which could mean Indians, Chinese, Southeast Asians, etc etc

    Or are we talking specifically about Americans/British/European/Australian citizens of Asian descent?

    Or are we talking about Asian citizens in Asia?

    I think it is important to be specific, and I understand it as Asian people living in Asia.

    I believe that the correlation is not a case of "Asian person" equates "not-independent" and "more likely to stay with parents till 30s"

    But instead... because Asian societies/economies which are relatively underdeveloped and more restricted than the more developed liberal democracies (or 1st world states, whatever you want to call them, Asian inhabitants do not have as much freedom.

    In China, you are not allowed to have a child without permission, much less purchase a new apartment (unless you are certified or have a specific hukou registration)... and that is assuming you have enough cash to pay for it.

    In Singapore, you are not to buy a government apartment (govt apartments comprise MOST of the housing in Singapore) unless you are 35... You also need to pay close to $50,000 for a permit before you are even ALLOWED to buy a car.

    Now Asian people living in Europe/America/Australia are not subjected to these restrictions and are more able to grow up and live independently.

    Chinese people who could not live independently or own a car in China are able to do so in Australia... How messed up is that?

    It's the way their countries are run that is messed up, hence Asian people need to step up and claim their share of the benefits the way we Americans did with our revolutions and protest marches, and the way the Arabs are starting to learn about it.


    1. To the ANONYMOUS guy and his loooong comment, there are MORE reasons why Asians still live with their parents regardless of age, one being a caring kid. Asians want to be around for their folks too, take care of them and stuff if there's nobody else around, coz when you're 50 or 55 and live alone with your significant other, trust me:you're going to need someone to move the furniture, fix a broken heater, buy the groceries, fix a hole on the roof and such...and when their folks are sick, their sons/daughters take care of them.

      It's not bec they don't have enough balls, you CN. I would even rather pay for bills and help out so they could enjoy retirement.

  6. I think it's a collectivist thing. Asian parents actually don't mind helping their children out until marriage or until they find work (and even after). Whereas Western parents can't wait for their kids to move out to stop them eating into their retirement funds. The way Asian parents see it - everything they do and earn and own is for their kids, the house they own will be handed down to their children anyway so what's the point of kicking them out? It has nothing to do with independence and self-discipline. Asians kill in those areas - just look at their commitment towards studying and work.

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  8. A lot of my Asian buddies who still live at home are wondering why they can't get any girls. haha. its pretty darn obvious to me.

    1. Lee Min Ho still lives w his mom but I don't think he has any problems w getting girls lol. It's Asian culture, you don't move out until you get married, and for the oldest son, he has to live w his parents even if he's married.

  9. I'm Malay, a Southeast Asian. I live with my parents and I have a girlfriend. No problem at all.

  10. I think it has everything to do with filial piety and confucianism.. something that a lot of western people don't understand

  11. Well, traditionally, you don't move out your parents until you marry. You will break their hearts if you do. And when they are old, they expect to move in with you and it's your responsibility to take care of you. You are considered a bad child if you put your parents in a retirement home. That's Asian culture.

    1. Girls can't move out until they marry.

  12. Love this article tackles every point. Some people are just too damn ignorant to be judgmental. I live with my parents cause I love being with them. I dont get judged too badly for it cause I am a woman. As far as I know, almost all my asian friends are living with their parents until the day they are married.

  13. Nice article, i think it's okay to live with your parents until you ready to move out, as long you give them some kind of contributions, and not becoming a NEET or shut in

  14. I'm Asian-American - Pakistani. Im in a senior engineering role in a large company, own multiple businesses - work 60 hours a week so make plenty of money. I own a 4100 square foot house and ya my Parents live with me. I'm 27. Why? Well that's simple. Because I Love my family and I want to spend every second of time I have left with my parents on this Earth as I can. I'm sick and tired of moronic, ignorant, and plainly stupid stereotypes. Everyone's situation is unique. It has a lot to do with Culture and how you were raised. Plus also a lot to do with your personal relationship with your parents. My parents sacrificed a lot and left their country to bring me here and raised me in the USA - which allowed me to pursue the American dream. Why the hell does it matter that I want them to live with me? It's my choice. From a dating perspective, if a girl has a problem with my parents living in my house and can't share the 4100 sq foot space - for some inherent stereotypical bias - without first understanding who I am as an individual and a human being - then it's her loss.