In 2012, I graduated from college and got a job at Google. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is consistently ranked among the most expensive places in the United States, and my Asian parents always said that renting was a waste of money.
So after finishing school, it made perfect sense for me to live at home while I stayed up. Although I had planned to have my own place at some point, I ended up living at home for 12 years. When I moved last December, I had saved and invested $400,000 from both my 9-5 income and my income as an entrepreneur.
Even though it wasn’t the path I expected, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Here’s why I don’t regret it:
Living at home, I didn’t have to worry about bills, car payments, or rent. At Google, they even offered a shuttle service to work and sometimes clothes.
In my early 20s, my meals were split 50/50 between my parents’ kitchen and Google cafeterias. As I got older, I did the majority of my own cooking and shopping, often buying in bulk at Costco.
Without these expenses, I found that I was more thoughtful about the financial habits I wanted to establish, without struggling to make ends meet or falling into debt.
I am lucky to have family members who know about money, including my father, who is a financial advisor and insurance agent. Their biggest advice was “don’t let your money sit in a bank.”
So I joined a financial wellness group, created a consistent budget, and implemented three emergency funds (with three to six months of expenses) in high-yield savings accounts and credit unions.
Using Vanguard founder John Bogle’s 10 Investing Principles, I learned how to invest in stocks, bonds, and ETFs. I also maxed out my retirement contributions at work.
There were times when living at home took a toll on my mental health, but I made a real effort to prioritize self-care and personal growth.
I allocated about a third of my annual budget to things like a gym membership, weekly therapy sessions, self-help books, and a career coach to boost my overall well-being.
Like so many people in the tech industry, I was exhausted from my job. So, in 2017, I left Google and the 9-5 job to focus on what I was truly passionate about.
In 2018, I started teaching yoga, and five years later, I turned to another passion of mine: music. I opened Claudia’s Music Studio in 2021 and have been happily teaching full-time ever since.
In the winter of 2022, most of my students were on break. With time on my hands, I found myself visiting my local Costco store several times a week. I got to know the staff and one of the managers jokingly said to me, “You’re still here, you should do something on social media.”
Inspired, I started an Instagram account called Costco Claudia. I try on the latest Costco styles and I have 183,000 followers and counting. It’s gone from a fun hobby to sort of a new career path.
In December 2023, I moved into my first home in Fremont, California. I am currently subletting a one bedroom apartment for $2,000 per month.
For utilities, I spend about $255 per month: $92 for water and trash collection, $68 for internet, and $95 for electricity. I’m always frugal and I love savings and good deals. I even bought most of my furniture at Costco.
The apartment is a 10 minute drive from my parents’ house. I didn’t expect to live at home as long as I have, and I know I’m not alone, especially in the Bay Area, where one in four millennials and three in four Gen Zers are doing the same .
There can be so much stigma around living at home, but I know it was the best choice for me. I’m proud of how far I’ve come and I’m excited about my next chapter.
Claudia Chee is a Bay Area native and former Google employee turned entrepreneur. Today she is a piano teacher, owner of Claudia’s Music Studioand a social media influencer who loves sharing her love for Costco on Instagram.
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