Huge numbers of college graduates are moving back in with Mom and Dad. Here’s your survival guide.
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The economy continues to be crappy, and while economists can argue what that means in terms of aggregate demand or monetary policy, young people are already sure what it adds up to on the ground – a few more years living with mom and dad.
Surveys show that huge numbers of college graduates are moving back home as they search for a decent job. Back in May, a study by Twentysomething Inc. found a whopping 85 percent of graduates find themselves getting reacquainted with their childhood bedroom.
Not always a nightmare
Is this always a terrible thing? Not at all, according to Oregon State University professor Richard Settersten, author of Not Quite Adults, Why 20-Somethings Are Choosing a Slower Path to Adulthood, and Why It’s Good for Everyone.
“It turns out that living at home can be a really smart decision in today’s economy. If it allows young people to be in school when they otherwise would not be able to afford to be, or be engaged in internships or apprenticeships that will lead to success later on, that’s a good thing,” he said earlier this year.
While the move may be viewed as incredibly uncool by many grads, the perception that living at home is lame comes down mostly to culture, not age. Parents, too, “see ‘success’ and ‘independence’ as synonyms, though no such conflation exists for many immigrants,” Gregory Warner wrote recently in the New York Times. Warner outlines how many children of immigrant families view moving back home not as “a sign of failure but as a means to achieve their financial goals more quickly.”
And then… reality
All of which is a long winded way of saying that you really oughtn’t to feel bad if you’re packing up to move back home; plenty of others are doing the same, and it actually might be a savvy financial move.
But we can’t promise the move won’t drive you crazy. After the independence of college, reverting to cohabitating with the parental unites after graduation can come as a shock to everybody – both kids and parents. So how can you make the best of the situation and keep your sanity (mostly) in tact?
A few tips:
Don’t be a brat. Sure, you may not be feeling awesome right now, but don’t take that out on your parent(s) who are, after all, helping you out. Psychology Today’s ten tips for moving home include “be appreciative — say thank you for the things your parents do for you,” “avoid ‘trashing’ your parents’ space,” and “make yourself useful.” And if you’re going to be late, they’re not crazy for wanting you to call.
Construct a framework for sanity. The situation is bound to be a bit fraught, so minimize potential conflict by planning ahead and clearing up potential trouble areas ahead of time. “If you have a good enough relationship to move back home after graduation, you should have a good enough relationship to talk openly with your parent or parents about your expectations for living together again,” Lindsey Pollak says.
If parents decide to give money, U.S. News & World Report advises,discuss the details in advance. Is it a loan? At what rate? If it’s for a specific purchase, say a car, are there any limits to what you can choose to buy without causing familial disharmony?
A timeline for your eventual departure is also helpful, suggests Money in Your 20s, which, along with other experts, suggests you, “have a specific date or goal that you are reaching for in order to move out.”
Make the most of it. Don’t even dream of moping. “If you were gone for a while you can bet on the fact that something has changed. Maybe there are new bars in town or new art shows. Maybe there are new events and festivals. Or, maybe you just need to re-familiarize with things that have always been there… Explore your city,” Grad Meets World advises.
And don’t forget that you’re doing this to give yourself space to get your life on track. This is a great time to learn a new skill (if your parents can cook, let them teach you, otherwise you’ll kick yourself later, trust me), reconnect with old friends or launch a resume–building project. And obviously, no slacking if you’re job searching, no matter how soul-sucking the process may be.
If you’ve survived the experience of moving back home, what other ideas can you add?
Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London and is the author of BNET’s Entry-Level Rebel column.