When Kevin (not his real name) graduated from university nearly a decade ago, he thought he knew where he’d be at 30. He expected to be in a stable job and living situation by now.
With a degree in Political Science, he’d planned on working with the provincial or federal government as a clerk or policy analysts. “I assumed I’d have an apartment, or I may have just purchased a house and be trying to pay off a mortgage,” he admits.
But like many people in their mid-20s to early 30s, it hasn’t worked out that way. Kevin is nowhere near that goal now, living at home with his parents. According to Statistics Canada, older children living with their parents has become increasingly common in Canada. In 2011, 42% of people between the ages of 20 and 29 were at home. For a comparison, in 1981 it was 27%.
Most of Kevin’s friends are in similar situations. “I know some people who live on their own, but a lot of them do it because they’re living with four other people. Or because they’re living with four other people and they’re getting money given to them by their parents to pay for rent.”
His outlook on the future was more optimistic a decade ago. Unfortunately, Kevin was entering the workforce when the province’s economic forecast started to sour. “The economy is in bad shape and it hasn’t been in good shape for almost a decade now… Things were in some ways better here with the oil and gas but the problem is, that’s just driven up the cost for everyone who doesn’t work in the oil and gas [industry].”
He’s quick to identify what’s holding him back from moving into his own place: “Money and job security. I don’t really have job security; my job won’t exist in the near future because my boss is retiring. And I’m not making enough to really live on my own because I can’t get full-time hours.” Like a lot of people his age, he’s underemployed. “There’s just not enough jobs, especially in Newfoundland.” According to Statistics Canada, in October 2016 the unemployment rate in St. John’s was 8.2%. The unemployment rate in Newfoundland and Labrador is currently 14.9%.
Becoming a home owner by his 30s is starting to look less likely for Kevin. “Back in the ‘90s, you could buy a fairly nice house for like $80,000. And now it’s going to run you over $300,000,” he says. And people aren’t making enough money to keep up with that cost.
He isn’t hopeful about the economic climate improving in the near future, either. “The economy is so boom and bust; it’s very much in the bust state right now.” At $10.50 an hour, this province has the lowest minimum wage in the country. With wage stagnation, the minimum wage doesn’t get you where it used to. The cost to rent has also gone up.
Luckily enough, Kevin’s parents understand the situation his generation is in. But “I hate having to put them out like this and I’m hoping to move out as soon as possible… They’re very understanding.” And signs seem to point that living situations like his will continue to be on the rise.
On the positive side, there are 150 CRA jobs coming to the taxation centre in St. John’s. Send in your resume Kevin.
I’d also like to note that some of those living at home are doing so because they overspend in other areas like eating out, socializing, buying expensive clothing and driving cars that should be outside of their budget but to each their own.
As someone who gets help from their parents I know what it’s like for Kevin. Not being able to get ahead in my career despite having a bachelors degree and a masters, and the fact that this province seems to be falling apart has me very seriously considering moving away. I don’t know how much more doom and gloom I can take.
Between high un-employment, high cost of living, stagnant wages, and poor infrastructure, it’s very difficult to get “ahead” in this province. Unfortunately, many young people have to choose between owning a vehicle to get to work, or moving out. Having parents that do not judge negatively due to lake of understanding is a godsend for this young man.