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Not Out of the House Yet: What to Do When Your College Grad Returns Home

by Student Loan Daddy

During your generation, the idea of moving back home with your parents would have been considered a cardinal sin, but for hundreds of thousands of today’s college graduates, it’s the thing to do. Known as the “Boomerang Generation,” today’s twenty-to thirty somethings see moving back in with you as a responsible way to get out of debt more quickly.

“Adultolescence,” or the five years post college that you may be housing your child again, is a new trend, affecting not just you, but parents in places like Italy, Japan and Britain.

While your children may relish the thought of piling up savings if you allow them to move back in with you, you may be wondering how much this move is going to cost you mentally and financially.

Weighing the Costs

The once young and inexperienced teen you sent off to college will come back a full-fledged adult with a broadened view of the world and strong opinions of their own, from how late they can stay out to how much they will contribute.

It’s not going to be an easy transition. The reality is, it’s going to affect areas like:

  • Money. $5,000 a year. That’s what it’s going to run you on the average when your child returns home.
  • Retirement. Family living expenses will increase—that’s a given. But you may also have to scale back funding your retirement, just as you’ve started to ramp up the money you’re setting aside for your golden years.
  • Daily routine. Talk about growing pains. You’re both used to doing things your own way and may clash when it comes to your schedules and household budget.

And that’s just for starters.

Making the Return Home Work for Everybody

Having your child back in the house could turn out to be a wonderful way to reconnect. But to ensure the experience is a positive one with minimum fuss these ideas may help you deal with what’s coming like rational adults.

  1. Reassess your relationship. Remember that your children are now grown adults who are independent and make their own decisions, often without your permission. As much of a challenge as this move may be for you, consider your kids. It may be a slight blow to their confidence moving back in with you, so be sensitive and understanding while firm.
  2. Review the rules. Have the talk before they move back in, or you could be in for a rude awakening. Try not to be overbearing, but at the same time convey your expectations regarding respecting other’s schedules and needs. You may want to put the “house rules” in writing just so everthing’s clear.
  3. Negotiate the necessities. Living at home doesn’t mean that they’ve got a free ride. In fact, now that they’re back, you’ll probably want them to contribute, which means you’ll have to lay down the expectations. This may include making a reasonable monthly rent payment, cooking dinner two times a week or pitching in for utilities and food.
  4. Decide on a departure date. No, they’re not back for life, at least you hope not. Whether your college grads feel they can get back on their feet in six months, or two years, set a date that is mutually acceptable and stick to it if you can.
  5. Help them figure out their finances. If you’re able, help your children put together a plan for paying off their debts or straightening out their money issues. Be available for questions and guidance, but don’t bail them out. If you do, they may never learn how to manage on their own.
  6. Focus on your fiscal future. Every parent wants what’s best for their kids but there are limits to parental sacrifice. Don’t go overboard and stretch yourself beyond what you can afford, especially if your retirement fund will suffer significantly. Help within reason, then allow your children to develop their own financial plan.

There are no hard and fast rules, easy answers or any sure-fire roadmap for how to best cope with your children moving home after they’ve graduated from college. But with a little bit of compassion, grace and understanding, you may be only months away from seeing your children re-emerge into the real world as the adults you always knew they could be.

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