How Long Should Your Child Live with You?

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Boomerang KidsOne of the realities of life is that more and more adult children are living with their parents. In some cases, the plan is to save money by living at home while a child attends a local college. At other times, the children are “boomerang” children — returning home after college while they try to get their financial feet under them.

In any case, it’s important to have an understanding when your adult children live with you. Remember: It’s still your house, and you’re still in charge. You don’t want your efforts to help your children achieve financial independence to degenerate into enabling them to make poor decisions while making little progress.

Setting Expectations

One of the most important things you can do is to set clear expectations of the conditions related to your child’s continued residence in your home. If the eventual goal is independence, your adult child needs to be making contributions. Here are some things to consider:

  • Chores and household responsibilities of your child.
  • Requirement to make career progress by either going to school, earning a certification, and/or holding down a job.
  • Possibility of paying rent, or helping pay for groceries or utilities.
  • Rules about having guests over (especially overnight guests).
  • Terms of any agreement you have to watch your grandchildren so your child can go to work or school.

Sit down with your adult child and work out the terms of his or her staying at the house. Right now, my brother is living at my house while he tries to get his feet under him. He has been fairly helpful when it comes to preparing food and cleaning up. Additionally, he is willing to watch my son on occasion while my husband and I go out, or while I run errands. Figure out what you all feel is reasonable, and then agree to it.

One of the things you can do is write out your agreement. It seems awfully formal, but it can be helpful in making sure that everyone knows exactly what is expected of the situation. You can all sign, and everyone can have a copy. That way, everyone knows what to expect, and there is less chance of misunderstanding.

Setting a Time Limit or Move Out Deadline

Among the hardest things to do is to set a move out deadline. You might tell your child that he or she can stay for a set amount of months. If your child is living at home while attending college, you can set the deadline for six to nine months after graduation.

In other cases, the deadline might be more flexible. When my sister and her family lived with my parents for a little more than a year, my parents said they could live there until they had paid off much of their debt, and were in a better financial position. However, they conditioned that they had to be making regular progress, and they had to be working toward a degree or certification so that self-support was possible. At least one of them also needed to have a part-time job so they could make debt payments and start saving up.

When approached with the goal of helping your adult child prepare for independence, allowing him or her to live with you can be beneficial. However, you have to be clear about your expectations, and enforce them, if you don’t want to cross the line that separates helping from enabling.

What are your thoughts on adult children living with you?

(Photo: Here’s Kate)

{ 5 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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5 Responses to “How Long Should Your Child Live with You?”

  1. Jeremy says:

    This must be a tricky thing for parents to deal with. On one hand they want to help out their child, but on the other hand they don’t want to rob them of financial independence. Too often I hear of people who take advantage of the situation and overstaying their welcome. You really have to put your foot down and establish clear rules that ensure it is just a temporary fix.

  2. Kenny says:

    Wow…..I really think that whenever we say ‘child’, they will remain a ‘child’ for us. A parent never ceases to be a parent just cause the kids cross 18. YES, they do not need us for bathing them, or teaching them ABC, enrolling them in college, or shopping for a new car at age 30. BUT……

    So, in reality a child has the right to remain with us, under our covers or guidance or home or family as long as they wish.

    An even better plan is something that I am working on right now. I computed the cost of education for a 4 year degree and costs of dorm. Decided that if I fund them in my city and buy them a condo, then technically, I have kept them in my city and near my 2nd home!

    As I type, I am in the 2nd home near downtown XYZ on business, while the kid is enjoying a week off from the University at the real-family-home (with rest of family). This allows me to call this our 2nd home, while the kid has technically moved out and gotten his own space (physical, mental and study).

    We have created an environment where we consider having 2 homes, and the kid considers having 2 homes, and the door is open on both homes. This gives the kid a chance to grow up, understand what living independently is all about, maintain a 2nd home, invite friends and clean up, and allow it to be maintained at a high standard (since it is a home and not an apartment or dorm room).

    We help the kid with food made from home (we are heavily into eating whole grain foods, veggies, healthy alternatives, and spicy choices), and visit him every 2 weeks over the last semester.

    This is very new for us, and of course, allows us to invest in a 2nd home, save money on dorms (throw away money), and give the independence/growth-path to the kid.

    On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being high), it is working out at an 11. His GPA is over 3.75, loves the condo relative to the dorm (shared bathroom, noisy, parties on weekend etc), and since we live close to all of the medical graduate schools, this condo might afford living here for a total of 8 years (for a medical degree).

    In doing an ROI calculations between Dorm and Condo, I will make the purchase of the Condo 54.3% free with this move, and therefore it is satisfying my pocket book also.

    In conclusion, give the kids guidance as long as you possibly can. Throwing them out in this cruel world may make some smart-kids into way-way smarter kids, but for the most part, it is throwing an average kid to the wolves, and there is always more negative than positive (seeing through my eyes). The term Boomerang Kids was developed based on some of these kids learning that home was better, and as a result coming back home. But, then if boomerang is ‘good’, then why let them ‘boomerang’. Keep them in a 2nd home (if you can afford to buy one).


  3. Shirley says:

    Clear, concise and consistant rules have been the key to our success with young adults in this situation.

    1- The bedroom that you are using is not yours; it is a room in our home.
    2- Dinner is at 6:30. You are welcome to eat with us.
    3- To live here is to be a part of the family, to always be respectful, and to physically contribute to maintenence of the home.
    4- You will not bring guests into our home that we would not invite ourselves.
    5- We are temporarily providing you with a place to stay, not a living. You will maintain your own finances, and be a student or a member of the workforce.

    So far we are batting 1,000… four out of four worked fine! 🙂

  4. Momma says:

    My 28year old daughter came back home after sowing her oats. She’s now a full time student, has about a year and to go. She cannot hold a job and do well in school at the same time, so she is not working. I am paying the rent, electric, cable, grocery, insurance, water and phone bills. She gets a small monthly check from my mother to cover her gas and other (very basic) expenses. She only rarely goes out with friends, and as I hold a full-time job and have continued to live a very active social life (wasn’t going to change that just because she moved back), she’s home alone a lot. SO, she has taken it upon herself to do the bulk of the housework; I’m not complaining! But yes, 6 months after she graduates is already a decided limit for her to move back out on her own…I love, love, love her dearly and would lay down my life for her, but I need my space back!

  5. Matt says:

    Saving money during college is huge, buying a house or car is almost impossible if youre saddled with student loan debt.

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