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Your Guide to Moving Back Home After College

Son moving in with father
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The future beyond graduation is uncertain, and it’s because of this uncertainty that recent grads often end up moving back home after college and taking the time necessary to figure out their next step. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 54% of young adults move back home at some point after moving out for the first time. So if you’re considering living at home after college, you’re not alone.

A 2019  survey indicated roughly 50% of millennials plan to move back home after college and stay for at least two years, with most being allowed to do so rent-free. Nearly one in five millennials say they’ve delayed adult milestones, such as moving out on their own, because of their student loan debt. For many college grads, moving back home provides an opportunity to save money and to start paying down that debt while looking for the best job possible, instead of clinging to the first paycheck opportunity that might come their way.

And with the novel coronavirus pandemic disrupting post-college employment options for many recent graduates, a temporary decision to move back home is probably the game plan for a growing number of people.

While moving back home after college is becoming the norm, making the transition from dorm life back to home life can still be difficult. This guide offers tips for how to move home after graduation, as well as how to make the most of your time there, so you’re able to successfully launch a new, post-grad life and career.

7 essential tips for moving back home after college

Tip 1: Set boundaries and maintain your independence

Some parents will be supportive of your goals, and will naturally allow you the space to work toward them, while others may be thrilled you’re back home and resort to the same parent-child dynamics from before college. Figuring out how to establish healthy boundaries with the information you share about your personal life is important, but it can also be tricky to navigate. The key is communication. Have collaborative conversations with your parents about expectations and always keep the communication channels open.

Tip 2: Establish a daily routine

According to The Jed Foundation, building a daily routine is important for keeping a positive mindset and for staying focused while you make the transition from campus life to living at home navigating a job search. Mental health is especially important when you’re facing a difficult job market.

Things like exercise, going to a coffee shop to apply for jobs, and carving out time for yourself will help you stay motivated.

Tip 3: Lean on your network for support

Reach out to friends who are moving home as well, and actively maintain ties to peers that are dealing with similar stresses of graduating college. Counselors assert that these types of peer support groups are essential for this transitional period, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Tip 4: Feel all the feels

Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your feelings and share them with your support network. Don’t suppress frustrations you may have with your parents or with yourself during this time. Living with your parents again after college isn’t always easy to navigate, and figuring out post-grad life and a new career is often stressful. Put those support groups to work and prioritize healthy communication with peers and your family.

Tip 5: Pick up gig work

Even though your ultimate goal may be to launch your long-term career after graduation, it’s still a good idea to focus on earning any income you can while living at home – plus, it gets you out of the house. This time is great for saving up a “moving out” fund by picking up side jobs and incorporating them into your weekly routine. Use this money to start saving for your own place or to get started paying off any student loans you may have.

Tip 6: Make your escape plan

Family psychologist and author Susan Newman, who has authored a book on adult children and parents living together, suggests creating an exit plan early on, one that’s crafted together. That way, expectations on a move-out date are established early on. Having a plan is also a healthy way to keep you motivated and focused on your job search and saving efforts.

Tip 7: Respect your parents in a meaningful way

Finally, respect your parents and the opportunity they are giving you to save money and work toward financial independence. “Say thank you for the things your parents do for you,” suggests Newman. Show your appreciation, clean up after yourself, and be considerate by calling them if you’re going to be late for dinner. Also, use this transitional time together as an opportunity to get to know each other as people, not just as parent and child.

The bottom line

Throughout the process of moving back home after college, remember to embrace it as an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to save money, to start paying down student loan debt, and to focus on launching your post-grad career and life. Ensure expectations, boundaries, and healthy lines of communication are established with your parents early on, set goals for yourself, stay motivated, and use the time to set yourself up for success.

Frequently asked questions

Is it OK to live with your parents after college? 

Yes, it is very common and can be advantageous if you don’t have a good job offer right after graduation. As long as you use this transitional period to work towards your goals every day, your living situation has no bearing on your path to success.

Is moving back in with parents a good idea? 

Many college grads choose to live with their parents even if they do have a job right out of school. Whether you’re saving money while working for a fixed amount of time or looking for a job with a reputable employer in your field, you can make this time work for you.

How do I save money by moving back in with my parents after college? 

Whether it’s from your dream job or a side job, make sure you are earning some sort of income while living at home. Assuming your parents are allowing you to live rent-free in exchange for helping out around the house, make a goal to budget your personal spending and save for a couple of months of rent and a few minimum payments on your student loans. This will give you some sense of security when you move out and get your own place.


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