For Kristin Wong, the hardest part about moving in with her parents was a curfew. Her mother insisted that she be home by 11 o’clock every night, in exchange for rent-free living.
“When you move back in as an adult you have a life of your own, and it can be hard to reconcile that with living with parents,” said Wong, a writer based in Los Angeles. “It's a weird feeling.”
The unemployment rate for young adults is 7.7%, according to a report published by the Pew Research Center. It’s the lowest level of unemployment since 2008. Even so, more millennials are choosing to live with their parents than ever. In the first third of 2015, only 67% of millennials were living independently, Pew reports, as compared to 69% in 2010.
Dubbed “boomerang children,” these young adults are transitioning into the professional world with a lot of help from their parents, be it financial or emotional. But before moving in with Mom and Dad, three conversations are essential in keeping tension out of the house.
1. The Endgame
No one likes it when a college graduate has to move back home, including the parents. If you go into it without knowing when it’s going to end, it gets hard to keep everyone from getting irritated with the situation.
“Come up with an exit strategy beforehand,” Wong said. “This will help make sure the move is temporary and it'll keep you motivated if you're feeling down about the situation.”
Juliet Perrachon-Bazaire d’Arguesse agrees with Wong. She moved back to New York after living abroad for a few years and documented it in a blog, “Return to the Crib.” She says knowing when it was going to end made it easier for her to handle.
“You have to say, ‘This is what I’m doing, here’s my plan, and moving back home is not long-term.” You have to have a good plan to get out soon,” said Perrachon. “Prove that you’re doing this intelligently. You have to show them that you know what you’re doing.”
Knowing what your overall plan is keeps the parents from worrying too much about the situation, Perrachon said. Parents are going to worry about their children no matter what, but that gets easier when it’s clear that they have a smart plan for moving forward into the adult world.
“My mom was comfortable with me moving back in because she knew I had a plan,” Perrachon said. “She knew I was actively searching for something and I wasn’t just hanging around.”
2. Chipping In
Linda Rubinowitz, a family therapist and part of Northwestern University’s Family Institute, stresses the importance of lending a hand around the house when you’ve moved back with your parents.
‘Talk about things very practically,” Rubinowitz said. “Short on money? Contribute by cooking meals. Try to contribute to the family: shopping, errands, caring for younger siblings.”
Rubinowitz advises graduates to ask themselves how they can be helpful when they move home. The needs and expectations of every family are going to be different. Some parents are going to take it for granted that they have an extra pair of hands to run errands, and other parents aren’t going to think of it at all. It’s important to talk to your parents and find out what the different assumptions and expectations are for you before you move in.
Kelly Cremering, a graduate of Grand Valley State University, clashed with her parents over a really simple problem.
“I’m not always as clean as my parents want me to be,” she said. “I don’t mind the mess, but they have to walk by my room every day. They think it’s really irritating, so I have to try and be neater.”
Sue Kayton, a student adviser in San Francisco, clashed with her daughter in a different area. “She would wake up at two in the morning and go make food in the kitchen. It would wake up my husband and I when we had work in the morning.”
Each household has its own rules, and your parents will have different expectations now that you’re an adult. Talking about what you are expected to contribute can save you hassle later on.
3. Social Life
Living at home can make it difficult to date or hang out with friends. Your friends from school have moved away and you’re busy looking for a job. On top of that, you now have to consider your parents when you think about having anyone over.
“I can’t just walk down the hall or the street and hang out with my friends,” Cremering said. “Most of my activities are solitary now, like walking the dog or cleaning the house.”
It’s important to consider everyone’s expectations, Wong says. She lived with her “strict Asian mother,” and even though she thought having a curfew was “silly,” she knew she would have to accept it. Respecting their rules got her privileges like living rent-free, and it also stopped conflicts before they started.
“Will you expect to have your partner sleep over? Will your parents expect you to be home for Sunday dinner?” she said. “Talking about these beforehand will help nip any conflict in the bud.”
It might seem uncomfortable to talk to your parents about dating or throwing parties, but when you’re living in their house, you have to know the rules. Similarly, you might want to make a few rules of your own.
“Dating was really hard when I moved back home,” Perrachon said. “I was texting this guy, and my dad kept asking about him. He even grabbed my phone and tried to respond to him for me!”
Moving back home is hard for everyone. Parents and young adults can both struggle with the transition from parent and child to roommates, and it’s hard not to step on any toes in the process. But with these three conversations out of the way, you can spend your time knowing that it’s only a temporary arrangement, and one that everyone can live with for a little while.