Oh, summer: the time when hopeful fresh-faced new graduates flood interview offices hoping for that unicorn of a perfect post-college job. While the job market for new graduates is looking better this year, getting a well-paying job is not a guarantee. With student loans looming large and without a stable position to fall back on, many young adults are contemplating their options.
Moving in with the parents is an attractive choice for many of them. In fact, a recent study by Trulia found that 40% of young adults live with their parents, step-parents or other relatives. Since living under the same roof is a real possibility for new graduates, what is the best way to make it work for everyone? If you have kids who are considering their next steps and thinking about moving back in, here is your survival guide.
First of all, it helps to be clear on goals.
Other than lessening the intensity of the pressure to cover rent, living expenses and loan payments, what are your children hoping to accomplish? Everyone’s reasons will be different. Some young adults see the move as a good opportunity to pay down student debt, while others want to save up for a down payment. Make the goals specific in terms of dollars and timelines.
Next, help them create a pathway for reaching the goal. It might mean putting a specific amount into savings every week, finding a temporary job or setting up a freelancing gig. Having a blueprint to follow and a clear end-game for the move-out will help manage the inevitable frustrations along the way.
Next, set up clear expectations.
Let’s be honest: no one likes a mooch. No matter what your circumstances look like, consider creating a formal written agreement with your child about the living arrangements. Are you expecting them to pay a certain amount in lieu of rent? Contribute to grocery and utility bills? Not cover anything except their own expenses? Get it all in the open and in writing to eliminate surprises.
Be clear about other ways that your child can help out around the house. Moving back home can awaken an inner pre-teen who is accustomed to Mom doing laundry and making dinner. Make a list of chores that your adult child can take on, clarify the frequency and resist the temptation to do it for them. Having clear responsibilities around the house will go a long way towards helping them feel they are a contributing member of the family.
This is also a good time to have a conversation about boundaries. Adult children don’t need a curfew, but it might still be nice if they informed the rest of the household about how late they expect to stay out. Adult children living at home with their parents can raise all sorts of issues, from personal space to daily choices around how they spend their money. My best advice is to pick your battles lest your home become a constant battleground.
Finally, help your children stay focused!
Progress might look slow, so starting every dinner with “How is the job search going?” might get touchy. Encourage a plan, offer support and use what you know about your child to strike the right balance between offering advice and giving them their space to figure things out.
Also, recognize that a certain amount of disagreement and conflict is normal in any co-habitation relationship. The best arrangements for adult children moving back in with their parents are clear on both the terms and the timeline. They also account for the changed circumstances: after all, you are now all adults living under the same roof. With some sensitivity, goodwill and good effort, this time can offer an opportunity for new shared memories and a solid foundation for mutual appreciation and respect.