Congratulations! You got your college diploma, and you’re officially an adult.
Adult, say hello to rent, groceries, insurance, water bills, electric bills, gas bills, and don’t forget about those student loans.
Before you find yourself buried under a pile of bills you can’t afford on your entry-level salary (that is, if you’ve even been able to find a job yet), you may want to bring yourself to consider whether that not-exactly-coolest of options — moving back home — might be your best bet right now.
We won’t pretend it’s a perfect answer. You may have to forgo the overnight guests and having a denful of buddies over for pizza, drinks, and the UFC pay-per-view fight. You’ve fought hard for your independence, done your required 18 years’ time at home, and now it may feel like you’re giving it all back up.
But if the alternative is being broke and living out of your car, that may be a price you want to pay. Besides, retracing your steps home doesn’t have to be all bad. There are at least five major advantages to moving back in with your parents, at least until you get on your financially independent two feet:
- Free rent
In order to help you out financially, especially if you haven’t been able to find a job yet, mom and dad may let you live at home rent-free. They might ask for a little something, maybe $50 a month, to help with groceries, but that’s still a better deal than you’re likely to find anywhere else. Just don’t use living at home as an excuse to watch TV or play Guitar Hero all day. In exchange for free rent privileges, make sure you’re hitting the pavement, getting your résumé out there, and keeping your parents up-to-speed on your job search.
- Free groceries, laundry, utilities, cable, Internet, and other things that cost money
All that stuff adds up, even when you’re splitting it with roommates. To avoid being a total bum, you can make a small contribution each month to help your parents with bills. Or if you’re short on cash, offer to help them with yardwork, errands, or things that need to be done around the house.
- You’ll actually be able to start a savings account
If you’re working and have money coming in, take what you’d pay for rent and utilities, and put it toward savings and paying off your student loans plus any credit card debt you racked up in college. With a good chunk of your debt paid off, a history of on-time payments on your credit report, and a decent emergency savings fund built up, you’ll be better equipped to get out on your own that much more quickly.
- The food and accommodations are a lot better
No air mattresses. No schlepping your bags of clothes to the laundromat. No cramming yourself into a rickety one-bedroom apartment with a med student, an aspiring actor disguised as a waiter, and their three cats. Actual food. Your parents may be busy professionals who aren’t inclined to prepare gourmet meals, but whatever they are eating, it probably still beats canned ravioli and Pop-Tarts.
- No newly annoying roommates or unexpected whack-jobs
You never know what you’re going to end up with off Craigslist when you’re looking for someone to split the rent with. Your parents and siblings are more than likely not your ideal post-college roommates, but think of it this way: At least all their craziness and annoying habits aren’t anything new. You know what you’re getting into. You spent 18 years of your life learning how to deal with your family — why invite any new crazies in when you’re already a pro at living with the ones who love you that you’ve got back home.