I’ve moved back home with my parents twice: Once after college to work at a nearby internship and again after breaking up with the person I was living with.
My parents were, at least outwardly, cool about it both times. They never charged rent, which probably made me feel more guilty about mooching off them and spurred me to move out faster.
More than half of post-college millennials moved back in with their parents after college, according to a recent survey by TD Ameritrade. Not all of them have parents as cool as mine, and the mix of emotions involved with shacking up in your childhood bedroom can lead to tension. So if that’s where you find yourself, here are a few tips for making it work.
How to prepare
Before you plan to move home, you should have a plan to leave, said Susan Newman, a psychologist and author of “Under One Roof Again: All Grown Up and (Re)learning to Live Together Happily.” Know how you will eventually move out and discuss a possible move-out date with your parents.
“It helps you focus a little more on your job hunt,” she said.
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If the date passes, you can always reassess.
You should also talk about your schedule. When you were in high school, your parents might have expected you for dinner every night. Now that you’re an adult, if that’s not the case, you should have a conversation to reset those expectations so Mom doesn’t get offended when she makes your favorite dish and you’re at the bar.
How to have a social life
While you may want to have friends or dates over whenever you want, you still need to respect your parents’ feelings, Newman said. After all, it’s still their house.
Kate Moore, a 26-year-old content creator with Precision Marketing Group, has lived at home for about two months. She said it’s best to establish boundaries on day one.
“You’re used to gallivanting around town at all hours of the night and returning when you felt like it,” Moore said. “Now that you’re back under your parents’ roof, you need to maintain a delicate balance between respecting their space and maintaining your freedom.”
If you expect to be able to come and go as you please, make that clear, but also promise to be considerate.
How to avoid clashes
If you had tension with your parents before you moved out, don’t expect that to go away this time around. Make sure to address it head-on once you move back in, Newman said.
For example, if talking about politics always leads to an argument at the dinner table, Newman suggests making clear that is an off-limits topic for both of you. If your parents have disagreed with you on certain issues your whole life, like your style, friends or politics, come to an agreement that you won’t let those issues come to a boil.
Some parents simply won’t listen. It can be hard for the people who taught you how use the toilet to treat you like a fellow adult.
“One thing that might help a lot of the time is to say to your parents, ‘Wait a minute, I’m not the little kid I was before and I really don’t like being treated like a teen who just got my driver’s license,’” Newman said.
However, that also means acting like an adult. Clean up after yourself and don’t expect your parents to do everything for you.
How to avoid feeling like a mooch
Moore said her parents charge her only as much rent as their utilities increased from her living with them. She said other people moving home should work out how they could contribute to the costs in bills and food they’re accumulating for their parents. Little gestures help, too.
“Sometimes I delight my parents by bringing home a case of paper towels or a gallon of 2% milk,” Moore said. “Small contributions to the greater household will go a long way.”
Don’t act like a guest, Newman said. If you don’t have a job, find other ways to help, like making dinner or mowing the lawn. Yard work for neighbors might also be a good way to earn some extra money.
How to benefit
You’re not just getting free meals and discounted rent, Newman said, but a chance to spend time with your parents while you’re adult instead of a child they’re raising. Young people should take advantage of the opportunity to get to know their parents, in addition to paying off their student loans or building up their savings. (See how to lower your student loan payments here.)
“As a young adult, and as a parent who’s not racing off to the soccer field for the third game of the weekend, you have more time to talk,” Newman said.
How to get out
Whatever your reason for moving back home, whether it’s to chip away at student loan debt or to find a job, pay off credit card debt or simply to save money, it’s important to know what your monetary target is and make a plan for getting there.
Even if you don’t reach your goal by the time you agree to move out, whether it’s six months or a year, your parents won’t necessarily kick you out if you’ve shown progress, Newman said.
Moore said a mix of rent prices in the area, student loan debt and credit card debt led her back home. Since moving, she’s paid off one of her credit cards. (Paying off a credit card means you’ll lower your credit utilization, and ultimately improve your credit scores. Having good credit scores can help you land better terms and conditions on things like an auto loan or mortgage. Want to see how your credit card debt is affecting you? Check out a free snapshot of your credit report on Credit.com.)
Young adults moving back home shouldn’t feel like they’ve failed, neither should parents whose kids haven’t quite left the nest, Newman said.
“You don’t have to feel guilty,” she said. A lot of young adults lean on their parents to some degree, even if they don’t move back home.
“My son still brings home his laundry,” she said.