Home Sweet Home: 5 Rules for Moving Back in with Your Parents

Home Sweet Home: 5 Rules for Moving Back in with Your Parents

Congratulations! You did it! You graduated college and you’re a real adult now… except instead of jet-setting to your dream job across the globe, you’re moving back in with Mom and Dad. 

According to Forbes, “44% [of college graduates] are living at home.” This means that almost half of the people you walked across the stage with at graduation are going right back to their hometowns.  Transitioning from Netflix binges and all-night cram sessions to a place where 10 PM is considered “late” can be hard.  But fear not, it is possible and it can be awesome. 

I personally moved back in with my parents about a month ago. I started a full-time job in Corporate America but chose to move back home to save money over the next year. My parents went through this process in the summer of 2011 when my oldest sister came home after earning a college degree and finding very little in the job market, like so many millennials today.

In the few years she lived at home, our family learned the “best practices” by trial and error, so I’ve devised a few rules if you’re heading back home:

1. Set ground rules from the beginning.

The first rule is to makes rules. Sit down with your parents and talk about their expectations of you and what you expect of them. It sounds ridiculous, but this is pivotal if you’re all going to live under one roof again and not drive each other mad. Putting it into perspective, you lived the last four years with other adults under one roof and probably had some sort of system, right? So why would it be any different for living with your parents, who are indeed other adults that you will be living with? Each household is different so it really depends on what you are all comfortable with, but below are a few of the big talking points my parents and I covered when I moved back. Some may seem unnecessary, but in the long run it’s better to leave no stone unturned than to avoid topics that could be a conflict later: curfews, cooking/food, laundry, dating, church and chores.

2. Pay rent in whatever currency your parents take.

The rule of thumb in our house is that if you move back, you pay $100 in “rent” every month.  It may seem a bit harsh to some people, but it covers the increase in utilities my parents see in their monthly bills. Although your parents may not want to accept money or you may not have $100 to spare every month, you can always pay them in other ways. Helping out with chores around the house or cooking for them one night a week could be alternatives. Every family is different, but usually parents just want to see you become a contributing member of the household somehow. 

3. Set a “SMART” goal for when to move out.

I cannot begin to tell you how important this is! For the first year my sister moved back in, she didn’t have any plans or really any idea of what to do next. She knew she’d eventually move back up to Kansas where she went to university, but she didn’t have a game plan for how to get there. Consequently, it took three more years and a move to Virginia before she finally landed her dream job in Kansas. You may not know where you’ll end up, but the first step to moving anywhere is to start moving.

A good place to start is by making a “SMART” goal that is: 

  • specific
  • measurable
  • attainable
  • realistic
  • timely

Saying you’re going to move across the globe in three months with thousands of dollars in school debt is probably not realistic for most post-grads. Start with smaller goals to ultimately achieve your larger ones. One of these smaller goals is to set a time frame for moving out. This is absolutely vital for assuring that your time back home is only a transition stage.

For example, I eventually want to go to grad school in Europe. I originally wanted to go right after I graduated in December, but I chose to stay home first to save up for the big move. I’m not saying to not dream big, but dream smarter so that your dreams actually do become reality.

4. Employ yourself if you aren’t already.

One of the reasons you may be back at home is that you don’t have a job yet. While some of your classmates may have been flying across the country your last semester of college for interviews with major corporations (yes, this is a true story), you on the other hand didn’t have that kind of luck. 

My advice if you’re unemployed and living at home is this: employ yourself with the job hunt. Finding a job is a job! At the end of the day, have an objective list of what you did: number of applications sent, cover letters written, etc. This gives you a purpose to your daily routine and is a healthy alternative to binging on Netflix or spending hours on Pinterest finding the perfect wardrobe for that perfect job you don’t have yet (yes, also based on a true story).

I also want to note that part-time jobs are okay! Many post-grads find themselves working at jobs they could’ve gotten before earning a degree, but having any job is better than no job at all. It’ll give you a source of income, motivate you to do something else and best of all give you work experience. You’re probably rolling your eyes and saying there’s no way delivering pizzas can add any value to your resume. However, you would be surprised by how many companies would rather see that you worked at Pizza Hut than your former glory days as an assistant to the regional director for your university organization. 

5. Communication and compromise are key, but at the end of the day it's their house, their rules.

Moving back into your parent’s house can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. You may find out that your parents are kind of cool and actually know what they’re talking about. Or you may find out that it actually isn’t for you and that’s okay, too. You’re an adult now, but keep in mind that in the end, it’s your parent’s house and you always have the option to move out

Special note for December graduates moving back home:

DON'T LET CHRISTMAS FOOL YOU! I found this out the hard way in the past few weeks. With all the Christmas festivities, I was naive enough to believe that my parent's house always smells of fresh baked cookies and that changing from one set of pajamas to another is "getting ready for the day." January comes and if you're not ready, it can be a rude awakening.

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[Photo by Juliette Kibodeaux.]

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