Mexico vs USA: When to Move Out?

Last night, Jorge and I were talking about a friend of ours who recently moved out of his parents’ house at the age of 25.

  • My thoughts: Ok.
  • Jorge’s thoughts: Well that’s controversial!

In the USA, most people move out of their parents’ house when they get a steady job after high school. Others go off to college, live there for 4 years, then move their leftover stuff out of their parents’ house when they get a job after graduating. If anyone is still living with their parents after age 23 or 24, it’s most likely because for whatever reason, they can’t afford to live on their own (not uncommon in today’s economy).

In Mexico, things are quite different. People are much more dependent on their families. Mexicans typically don’t move out of their parents’ home until one of three things happens:

  • They decide to study in another part of the country (somewhat rare)
  • They get a job in another part of the country
  • They get married

Universities in Mexico don’t typically have dorms or any kind of on-site living facilities, so most Mexicans choose to go to school somewhere close to the house they grew up in. I had a few friends in college here in Cancun who were living with roommates since they came from another state, but most of my university classmates were still at their parents’ house. I also know several Mexicans who have gotten 2 or 3 college degrees, all while living at home. Once, a 25-year-old friend even told me, “I’m thinking about moving into my own place, but my mother would be heartbroken. She’d wonder where she went wrong!”

Even now at age 26, the vast majority of my Mexican friends still live with their parents. I do know a few newlywed couples who live in their own home, and Jorge of course moved out of his parents’ house when we got married (although we almost moved into my in-laws’ upstairs apartment to save money).

Jorge with his family 🙂

Personally this is a cultural aspect that still boggles my mind. As someone who grew up in a culture where you finish school then get the heck out, it’s hard to comprehend why someone would want to put their independence on hold until they get married. Obviously the Mexican system works quite well, so I can’t criticize it, and I can’t say there’s anything wrong about it (sometimes I even wish I could live rent-free) … I just don’t understand it on a personal level because I was surrounded by something completely different growing up.

It’s common for me to have strong personality clashes with my Mexican friends, and lately I’ve formed stronger friendships with other expats (Canadians, Brazilians, Americans, Brits, Australians, etc). I sometimes wonder if it’s because my expat friends and I been living independently for so many years (7 years for me), while most of my Mexican friends still live at home and have a different, more family-oriented mindset. Or maybe it’s some other cultural difference.

Since the day I moved here and to this very day 7 years later, the most common question I get asked by Mexicans I meet is, “And your parents were ok with you moving away? What did they say?”

17 thoughts on “Mexico vs USA: When to Move Out?

  1. It’s true I am Mexican (born in USA) and I moved out when I decided to live with my now wife (17 years) and I was 17 years old when I left but if I wouldn’t of got hooked I would still be with my parents. I still miss home and moms cooking and chilling with my dad. When Mexicans stay home they don’t just stay home they usually are going to college or working and they do help at home monetary or however needed. I think Mexican families are much closer for what I have seen growing up in the states.

    • Yes, thank you, that’s a great point. The “kids” do help out around the house and are usually working or studying! I can’t think of any Mexican friends who just hang around the house haha

      I agree that they’re closer, although I’ve seen many instances where they become too close and too dependent on family members, in my opinion. There seem to be pros and cons to each, from my experience.

  2. It is different than the US. Living in Texas, we were used to seeing Hispanic grown adults living with their parents. Just so you know, it’s not just the Mexicn culture. It’s very common in middle eastern families too. My brother-in-law lived with his parents until he was 36 and married my sister. In Vietnamese cultures multi generation families would live together, help pool money together so one family could buy a home. It’s hard for us to understand bc we grew up ready to “get out.” Other cultures surround themselves around family and it’s considered a unit, always.

  3. I always thought it was more to do with economics – the fact that most couldn’t afford to move out, and if they did then they wouldn’t be contributing to the “household income”, like it made financial sense to all live together.

    Mexican men have got to be some of the most mollycoddled guys around and the root cause of many a breakup with expat girls 🙂 (Jorge not included!!!)

  4. Interesting post. I am a first generation Canadian, so all my family is from Italy. Mexican and Italian cultures share a lot of similar beliefs, including that usually you leave the home only when you marry, and even after you can stay with your family for a few years until you get on your own two feet.

    Interestingly, almost all of my friends live at home still ( and most of them with their spouses!) In a basement apartment of their parents, etc. So from my experience, although you are a little more likely to move away in Canada vs Mexico, living at home is still a popular and very accepted norm here, atleast in my group of friends anyways 🙂

    Really interesting post, thanks Laura!

  5. American culture is unusual compared to much of the world in this regard. However, I do think that family closeness happens (or not) way before the kids are grown. I know you and your sisters used to talk about how your friend’s families never ate meals together. We were like the Cleavers because we ate together as a family every night. I think that many kids are just not close to their families, even when they all live together. Closeness is not always a matter of time and place. I think our family is pretty close, although we don’t see each other as much as we would like. When we do actually all get together it is wonderful.

    We missed you terribly when you moved to Mexico. It was very hard for your Mom and I. However, we are so happy for you. We knew, that even if it was painful, you were going to do something you really wanted to do. And the Lord has so blessed that decision. He has given you a wonderful husband (and incredible in-laws) and new friends and a good life. We are blessed as well because we now have a new family in Mexico with a wonderful son. I believe that we are all so much richer for the experience. People would ask us too; “How can you let your daughter go to school in Mexico?” We would say that she is actually closer than if she went to school in California. At the time, it was just a matter of your going to college.

    • I agree. I think we have one of the closest families we know, even though we all live in different cities. I hope God blesses you in Colombia as much as He has blessed me here! Love you.

  6. My thoughts, and experience are quite like Milenas!!! Most of my friends in Canada still live at home with their parents. Even those who had University paid for, and no debt. They are just at home, saving money, spending money, etc….Again, most of my friends are first generation Cdns as well, and I’d have to say that the experience is quite like Mexico. Maybe worse…?? LOL!!! Or better? Depends how you look at it.

    I moved out when I was 18, went away to school in Vancouver… My four brothers also did this, however, my one brother is now living back at home with my parents – he is a Civil Engineer, and makes over 6 figures for an oil and gas company, 28 years old… No debt as school was paid for. He is still living in his old room in the basement. LOL. Saving, saving, saving.

    Some I think is cultural as you stated, and also economical, which you also stated. LOL. So funny as to me it’s so normal to “stay home”. Heck, my Mom would love it if I were to move back in with her today!!! LOL!!

  7. I have the same thoughts as Raymundo and Milenas. I’m Italian and Hubby is Serbian. It’s a cultural thing. Living at home is just something that is done, no second thoughts. It helps us and our parents. They love having their children back home!

  8. When I lived in Mexico, I found that Mexicans married and bore children at a very young age. I knew many 16 year olds who were parents, husbands and wives and were doing beautifully with very adult responsibilities. Mind you, many of them lived with parents and grandparents were involved with the child rearing.

  9. I moved out from home at age 21, just a few months after finishing University and getting my first former job. I did it mainly because I wanted to live with my bf and because I desired to be independent. Sure, some friends still get money from their parents and they’re happy about it, but they’re not really sure what they wanna do with their lives. I think there is also a lack of empowerness, to risk this comfort zone and actually achieve something – they dont know if its worthy… a lover? sure! a goal? not so much…

  10. Spain is the same way! They live with their families forever. I lived with a host family whose son still lived at home well into his 30s, maybe even 40s. It’s becoming more common to move out younger, but even then I think they tend to stay pretty close to home.

    For me, it’s really hard to understand. I couldn’t wait to get out and go to college! But there are definitely upsides. Some days (a lot of days, actually) I’d love to live closer to my family.

  11. I lived with my parents until I was 28, at which point my mother decided I needed more independence. 🙂 My friends were shocked that I stayed as long as I did. In some ways I miss living with them, but at the same time, I do really appreciate having my own home to go home to. It does surprise me to see people in their 30s or 40s living with their parents. Especially when the parents still cook and clean for the kids. I do believe that at that age you should know how to do your own laundry.

  12. The USA does not value family as much as Mexico. In the USA, you must leave home as soon as possible in order to work, so you can pay taxes and that way the USA can pay for its wars. In the USA, they kick their old people, because old people get in their way of working. USA people need to work so that they can pay taxes. Taxes pay for war. It’s drilled into their head, that they are losers if they don’t move out by a certain age.

  13. This is a funny post and I love it. I’m Mexican who moved to the US when I was 9. Just like you mention it’s hard to understand how people can live with their parents at grown age, I was also always wondering why Americans wanted to get out as soon as they could and not only that but were perfectly fine with moving out of state, very far. My first question was – do they not like each other? and second question was why have family then, I saw no point in raising kids if they would be strangers when adults.

    But now reflecting on it, I really don’t move out and I think the great majority of poorer Mexicans don’t is because of economic reasons. I’ve seen whole generations grandparents, parents, grandchildren and their husbands/wives like all in one home. Now to me, that’s too much, hehe. Now I’m in a better economic position, but my parents aren’t. Leaving them I would have to pay for my rent and help with theirs. Instead of that I just help with theirs. So economic reason I think is the main culprit why it is so strong.

    But then again I think if I were completely rich, I wouldn’t totally mind living with my parents. I don’t drink, or want to do anything that I wouldn’t do in front of my parents. Then I’m of the mindset that family is forever, and friends, especially in developed nations tend to be very superficial – I’m your friend because you can help me later. Or I’m your friend but tomorrow maybe not. Or I’m your friend because you’re fun and distract me. May not be the case at all, but that’s how I feel, so I tend to rather stay with family bond that I know will never break regardless of how much we hate each other or love.

    Now I agree some Mexicans completely over do it. But at the same time, I just don’t see the point of bringing children to this world if they will be complete strangers later on in life. If it is so they can pursue life and happiness, well I respect that, but why is it always implied happiness is away from the family?

    I’m not really right, just bringing up why I as a Mexican think this way maybe can shed some light as why we are the way we are.

  14. I can’t wrap my brain around this. So no hanky panky until you’re married? having to live with my in laws will probably desuade me from getting married. I like my own space.

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