Sally is a business communications coach who gives workshops on how to keep your professional reputation squeaky-clean and drama-free.
If you have to move back in with your parents in order to save money or pay off your student loans, take note of these tips and suggestions for how to live comfortably with your parents again.
High housing costs are forcing many young people to return home.
Eight Tips to Help Young Adults Move Back In With Their Parents Successfully
In these tough economic times, young people are finding it harder and harder to move out, pay off student loans or save enough money for a down payment on a home of their own.
A 2012 study conducted in the United States reported that 39 percent of all adults between the ages of 18 and 34 either still live with their parents or recently moved back in with their parents after living on their own. 1
Moving back home with your parents can be a smart financial move that helps you get ahead. Or it could be a total disaster, driving a wedge between you and your family. If you are thinking about living with your parents or other relatives, there are things that you can do to make sure that the new living arrangements don't financially burden your parents or put the squeeze on your personal life.
Here are some tips and suggestions for how adult children can move back into their parents' home without creating unnecessary tension.
1. Figure out why you need to move home in the first place.
If you're struggling month to month to pay the rent while living on your own, you need to figure out what parts of your financial plan aren't working. Is your rent too high? Are you spending too much money on your car? Are you unemployed or underemployed (floating from contract to contract)? Is your social life too expensive? If you aren’t sure why you're having a tough time making ends meet, then moving back home probably won’t solve your money problems. Figure out if there are things that you can do to tighten up your budget and manage your finances more effectively before you consider moving back home.
2. Establish realistic financial goals.
Once you have a solid understanding of your money situation, write down your financial goals. Draw up a clear timeframe for reaching these goals. For example, if you want to save money to buy your own home, how much should you have set aside for a down payment? How much will you have to save each month to reach your goal?
3. Insist on paying your share of the bills.
If you've lived with roommates before, you should be quite comfortable about splitting the rent and utilities and managing the grocery budget with other people living at the same address. Apply these same principles to living with your parents. Although your share of utilities, rent and food may be lower than what you'd be paying if you lived with friends, even a small financial contribution will help keep your parents from dipping into their retirement fund to support you. Paying your fair share will also keep you from feeling like a freeloader. (Your self-esteem will thank you).
4. Respect the house rules.
Respecting the house rules starts with having an open and honest discussion with your parents about what they expect from you. When you were a teenager, you may have had some unbending rules such as no smoking or drinking in the house (or anywhere for that matter) and no engaging in sexual activity. Now that you're an adult, don’t assume that these rules have changed. You may be legally allowed to drink and mature enough to have healthy sexual relationships, but don’t assume that your parents are comfortable with you doing these thing while you're living at home. If some of your younger siblings are still living at home, be mindful of the impact that your adult behaviors will have on them. Strive to always be a positive role model for your minor siblings.
If you feel weird having a frank discussion about whether or not your parents are cool with dates who sleep over, you may need to look at alternative places to live. If you aren’t mature enough to talk to your parents as an adult, then moving back home may be more of a strain on your relationship than you bargained for.
5. De-clutter before you move in.
Find out how much living and storage space you'll have when you move in. Sell or give away excess furniture. Get rid of any junk and clutter that will take up unnecessary space in your parents’ home. When you do move out again, take all your stuff with you too! Your parents' garage is not a free storage unit.
6. Figure out where Fido fits into the picture.
If you plan on bringing a pet with you, discuss this with your parents beforehand. Where will the pet live? Will it be welcomed in all parts of the house or just in your living space? What access to outdoor space will your pet have and how will this affect your parents’ enjoyment of their green spaces? Unless your parents expressly volunteer to take care of your pet when you're away or working long hours, don't assume that by moving home you’ll be scoring free doggie daycare and unlimited cat sitting.
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7. Don’t overstay your welcome in your parents' home.
The last thing you want is for your parents to kick you out of their house, frustrated that you're not moving forward with your plans to become financially independent. Before you move in, agree on how long you plan to live with your parents. Show them the financial plan you created for yourself in step 1 and let them know that you're committed to making the new living arrangements work for everyone.
If you're having trouble reaching your financial goals and it looks like it will take you longer than expected to move out, keep the lines of communication open. Your parents may even have wisdom and insight into how you can improve your situation. Remember, your parents want you to succeed in life just as much as, if not more than, you do. Appreciate and take advantage of their life experience and how they managed to move beyond any financial challenges they may have faced at one time.
8. Give in-kind gifts to your parents as often as you can.
In-kind gifts include doing chores and home maintenance above and beyond what will normally be expected of you. For example, even though you're doing your own dishes, cleaning up after yourself and taking care of your own laundry, what other things can you do around the house to make life easier for your parents? Be proactive in taking on home and garden projects.
- Do some weeding out in the yard without being asked
- Offer to wash your dad’s car, change the oil or do some light auto maintenance
- Split and stack some firewood
- Offer to cook a meal at least once a month
- Clean the house from top to bottom when your parents are out
- Help your parents master some computer skills
- Help your mom with some canning and baking
In many parts of the world, it's very common for families to live together long after the children have reached adulthood. When done right, living with your parents actually makes good fiscal sense and can help strengthen your relationship with them. By going above and beyond what is expected of you, you’ll also help improve your parents' quality of life as they age.
1. Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C.
Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.
— Anne Frank
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Sally Hayes
Sally Hayes (author) on May 14, 2015:
Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I wish you the best if you do end up moving in with your in-laws. My husband and I did it years ago to help us get on our feet and financially stable enough to buy a new home. Living with my parents did take patience, but when we look back on what we were able to accomplish thanks to the financial relief of living with them for a short time, it was worth it. When we moved out and my parents finally downsized, it also was nice to have been able to create a few more happy memories in my childhood home.
Kelsey Elise Farrell from Orange County, CA on May 13, 2015:
Great advice--my husband and I may have to make the decision to move in with either of our parents for a time while he finishes up his post-doc in school. It's an idea I've been dreading, mostly because I like my independence and I'm not sure his mother will oblige. I definitely agree with insisting on paying some form of rent though, if you can swing something per month then you definitely should--not only is this considerate but it will help lower the possibility of snarky comments later.
Sally Hayes (author) on August 08, 2012:
@tillsontitan Thanks for stopping by and voting up, I agree that living with our parents as adults definitely requires give and take. I had to do it after I came back from University year ago (even before the economy was in rough shape). I don't think I would be where I am today if my parents hadn't been so accommodating. The good news is that now people are recognizing the return to the family nest as a necessary component of adulthood and it has less of a stigma attached to it. Here in Vancouver (one of the most expensive cities in NA) they are rezoning some suburbs so that people can build secondary suites and laneway houses for their children or elderly parents.
Mary Craig from New York on August 05, 2012:
This is a very topical hub. With the economy the way it is more people are moving back with their parents and often the move doesn't go too well. Parents are set in their ways, 'children' are set in theirs. A little give and a lot of respect can ease a difficult situation.
Voted up and useful.