Moving Back Home: What To Know and How to Prepare

Moving back home after being on your own for the first time can seem like a giant step in the wrong direction, but it can be time well spent regrouping, getting your finances in order, and planning for the next stage of your life.

That said, it can also screw up otherwise healthy family dynamics, and rushing into such a big decision without thinking it through can lead to strained relationships, isolation, and feelings of hopelessness and depression.

So before giving your landlord notice, buying moving boxes, and breaking the news to mom and dad, take some time to consider your situation by setting reasonable expectations and making a plan to regain your independence.

Why Young Adults and Millennials Are Moving Back Home

In a recent survey, TD Ameritrade found that nearly 75% of the American millennials (ages 24 to 29) polled stated that they were concerned about their job, finances, and living arrangement.

And more surprisingly, nearly 40% were planning to or have already moved back to their parents’ home.

Also, nearly a third of their parents are paying some or all of their living expenses.

According to the Pew Research Center, more adult children in the US live in their parent’s house than at any time since the Great Depression.

Though fallout from the coronavirus is the most cited factor for moving back home, others include –

  • Reduced work hours or layoffs
  • Inability to pay rent, credit card, and student debt
  • College students and recent rads continuing their educations
  • Recovering from a breakup or divorce
  • Elderly parents in need of assistance

Pros and Cons of Moving Back Home

At least on the surface, the drawbacks of moving back home far outweigh the benefits.

However, by considering things from every angle, you’ll likely discover that the ominous cloud has a silver lining.

And remember, in most instances, your stay with mom and dad will be temporary.

Three years back in your childhood home may seem like “cruel and unusual” punishment, but six months or a year is doable.

Regardless of the reasons for your move, you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons before taking the plunge.

Pros –

  • You may be able to save money and pay off debt more easily
  • You’ll have a more stable environment for working and studying
  • You’ll be able to help your parents with chores and bills
  • Reconnecting with parents, family members, and friends after an absence can be rewarding
  • If you have children, you may occasionally get free childcare from grandma and grandpa

Cons –

  • It can be stressful for you and your parents
  • They may ask you to pay rent or help with the utilities
  • You’ll have less personal space and privacy
  • Being back “home” can be depressing
  • Falling into a rut and becoming unmotivated may prolong your stay
  • You may have to adhere to curfews and other annoying rules

Run the Idea by Mom and Dad

Showing up on your parent’s doorstep with two cats, a U-Haul truck full of IKEA furniture, and a list of gluten-free products you’d like them to rush out and buy is a terrible idea.

Moving back home may be stressful for you, but it can be even more of a shock for them.

After years of living alone and getting settled in their ways, many baby boomers and “empty nesters” are reluctant to have their kids living under their roofs – and with good reason.

There’s no better way to ensure a smooth transition (or rule the idea out entirely) than by having frank discussions with everyone involved.

Discuss Finances and Make a Budget

Few things can wreck friendships and family relationships, like disputes about money.

Hence, when considering whether to move back home, address financial considerations well beforehand.

Even if your parents are well-heeled retirees with generous pensions and seven-figure nest eggs, they may resent you assuming that they’ll pick up some or all of your tab.

Though they may be willing to help you through a rough stretch, they’ll probably appreciate your offering to chip in any way you can.

After discussions about finances, consider jotting down notes, so there’s no doubt later on about who said what.

Budgeting is another great way to assess your financial situation accurately.

By sticking to a budget, you’ll be in a much better position to help out with household expenses, pay off your student loan and plan for your future.

Agree on “House Rules”

After living independently, moving back home can be a big shock.

Though leaving dirty dishes in the sink and sleeping until noon on the weekend may be perfectly acceptable when living independently, they may cause problems in your new home environment.

Before jumping into a discussion about the rules they expect you to follow, take some time to write down what you can and can’t live with.

But first, ask mom and dad about their expectations – after all, it’s their house.

Consider things like –

  • If they’ll allow you to use their car
  • Whether their food will be off-limits to you and vice versa
  • If it’ll be OK to have a “significant other” spend the night
  • If they’ll expect you to be home every evening at a particular time
  • Whether they expect you to take out the trash, mow the lawn and clean the gutters
  • If they’ll allow you to keep alcohol in the fridge or smoke on the back porch

In some cases, parents with too much free time may slip into the provider role.

Though having your breakfast made and your laundry done daily may sound great, self-sufficiency will put you on a much quicker path to independence.

Think About Your Living Space

From the unheated A-frame attic over the garage to the comfy guest bedroom next to mom and dad’s suite, your living space will have a significant impact on the pleasantness of your stay.

Consider whether you’ll have your own bathroom and shower, your own television and if your living area will be furnished or unfurnished.

Making your personal space comfortable and private will help fight off feelings of isolation and hopelessness, but avoid getting too settled in.

Leaving an unpacked box or two in plain sight may remind you that your stay is just temporary and that there are bigger and better things on your horizon.

Figure out What to Do With Your “Stuff”

Unless your folks have ample garage, basement, or attic space for storage, you’ll likely need to downsize before moving in.

And besides, your parents may already furnish your designated living space.

But thankfully, if you’re like most young people, you probably haven’t acquired enough household goods to fill more than a studio or 1-bedroom apartment.

Offsite storage may be an option, but you’ll have those pesky monthly charges to worry about, and accessing your items won’t be easy if you lock them up across town.

Instead, consider lightening your load by discarding items that are past their prime and scheduling pick-up donations for those that still have some life left in them.

Downsizing and donating will decrease move costs and overall hassle, and you’ll be helping those less fortunate as well.

Make a “Getaway” Plan

Unless your parents are sick or elderly and require your financial help or personal assistance daily, living with them will most likely be temporary.

But here’s the thing –

If you don’t go into it with an exit plan, you could end up staying much longer than anticipated.

It may be easy to stay motivated initially, but like most things, without a clear vision of where you’re going and how you intend to get there, you could flounder for years without making any progress.

It’s essential to have reasonable goals, write them down, and assign each a “due date.”

As you check each completed item off your list, your motivation will increase because you’ll have tangible results from your hard work and sacrifices.

Additional Tips for Moving Back Home

1. Consider alternatives like volunteering for an NGO or teaching English in a country where the cost of living is relatively low.

2. Give living with mom and dad a two-month “test drive” to see if it’ll work for you and them.

3. Get out of the house for an hour or two every day – play tennis, go to the gym or library, catch a ballgame or take a long walk.

4. Go out of your way to help around the house. Try sweeping, doing the dishes, or shoveling snow from the driveway, even when they don’t expect it.

5. If your finances allow it, take a short trip each month to visit a best friend in another state, camp in a state park, or scout out cities you may like to live in later on.

6. Take care of your physical and emotional health by eating right, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep.

7. Avoid spending hours on social media envying friends in New York City who aren’t living in their childhood bedroom.

8. Put a few bucks away each month to use toward a down payment on a new home or a deposit on an apartment when it’s finally time to move out and find your own place.

9. If work is hard to come by, consider taking a part-time job until something better turns up.

10. Don’t let yourself get too accustomed to financial support from mom and dad.

11. Don’t get scammed – hire experienced vetted movers with verified customer reviews to help you move back home.


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