5 Rules for Moving Back in With Your Parents – So They Don’t Kick You Out

Boomerang kids can take steps to improve the living situation with their parents.

When Savanna Atherton graduated from college in 2016, she was still searching for a job. To ease the transition, she got two roommates, whom she’d known for her whole life: her parents.

“I decided initially that I was going to live with my parents until I did find a job,” says Atherton, who now works as a public relations associate in Portland, Oregon. “And once I did find a job, I decided to stay and save on money.”

Atherton, 23, discovered that returning to the nest was a boon for both her relationship with her parents and her pocketbook. “It’s been fun to spend time with my family,” she says. “I’m working and have my own life, but they’re still a part of it, and we’re still together.” And in the meantime, she’s using her low-cost living situation to accelerate repayment on her student loans and build savings.

As a boomerang kid – an adult child who returns to live in the family home – Atherton is not alone. In fact, for the first time in more than 130 years, living with a parent is the most common young adult living arrangement in the U.S., according to a 2016 report from the Pew Research Center. While the Great Recession – and corresponding weak job market – was associated with an uptick in young adults returning to live at home, the trend hasn’t receded in subsequent years. Instead, the number of adults ages 18 to 34 living at home has continued to grow due, in part, to a drop in the share of young adults who choose to shack up with a romantic partner, according to the survey.

For grown children who move in with their parents, how they navigate the experience can determine whether it’s a fantastic and financially fruitful experience – or one fraught with frustration and fighting. Fortunately, boomerang kids can take steps to ensure their parents are comfortable with the new arrangement and hopefully prevent being given the boot.

Communicate your reasons for moving home. Be honest with your parents – and yourself – about your reasons for returning to the nest. If you’re looking to build savings, save on rent or start a new business venture, make those goals clear, experts say. “Have the conversation and see what your parents’ expectations are out of you,” says Douglas Boneparth, president of Bone Fide Wealth in New York City and co-author of the upcoming book “The Millennial Money Fix.”

Developing those financial goals can help you devise a timeline for moving out; and it can help your family understand what you hope to accomplish by living at home. It’s a good start.

Set a deadline. Unless your goal is to live with Mom and Dad forever, then come up with a deadline for moving out of the family homestead. “Very seriously put together a timeline,” says Lili Vasileff, a Greenwich, Connecticut-based fee-only certified financial planner, specializing in divorce and wealth protection management. “I think that’s the biggest thing that frightens people [about their kids moving back home] is that there is never an end to it.”

Practice good financial housekeeping. If you have money coming in, don’t spend it all on clothing, concert tickets and craft beer. Reckless spending may be one of the fastest ways to find yourself back on the street – and your bedroom converted to a deluxe home gym. Use this time, when your living costs are low, to build an emergency savings account, pay down student debt or max out your retirement accounts.

These good habits will show your parents that you’re not frittering away their financial help. And, more importantly, they’ll place you on the right financial path when you eventually do leave the nest. “If you spend everything that comes in, it’s going to be really difficult to adjust your lifestyle once you have rent,” says Randy Bruns, certified financial planner with HighPoint Planning Partners, based outside of Chicago.

Paying off debt and other bills on time is also key to building a credit history, which is essential when it comes time to apply for your first apartment or mortgage, or take on utility bills.

Share expenses. Moving back home may not cost your parents extra in rent or mortgage payments, but they will pay more in food, utility costs and other household expenses.

If you can afford to, offer to pitch in with household bills and even pay some kind of nominal “rent.” Atherton, the Portland PR pro, pays her parents $300 per month for rent and insurance fees. It’s still far less than she’d pay a landlord in Portland, and it helps contribute to the family’s finances. “It’s a really good deal,” she says.

Don’t forget your parents’ financial goals. Yes, even Mom and Dad have their own financial goals and dreams. They may be preparing for retirement, hoping to downsize or looking forward to traveling more in their golden years. Sit down with your folks and talk about what they’re hoping to accomplish in the next few years and really listen to how your boomerang situation may be affecting their dreams. “It can kind of throw a wrench in their plans,” Vasileff says.

If they are hoping to downsize or retire, work together to make sure that they can still reach those goals, despite your return.
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