Personal Finance 

When Is It Time for You To Move Out Of Mom and Dad’s?

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Danny ChooYoung professionals have often been called the “boomerang generation.” Instead of getting a career and/or getting married by the time they are done with four years of college (or even with graduate school), many students are moving back home.

A study from the Pew Research Center indicates that about 29% of those aged 25 to 34 have moved back home in recent years. 61% of people in that age group say that they have friends or family members that have made the decision to move back to mom and dad’s.

It’s a tough time, says Jeffery Jensen Arnett, Research Professor of Psychology at Clark University and author of the forthcoming book When Will My Grown-Up Kid Grow Up? Arnett is also the Director of the Clark University Poll of Emerging Adults, which highlights trends related to the “boomerang generation.”

Kids NEED to Move Back Home

“It’s truly a financial necessity,” Arnett says. “We’re aware of how tough it is for young people right now in a sluggish economy. But what we don’t get is that it’s always hard for young people. Their unemployment rate is consistently twice as high as the regular rate.”

Arnett points out that there are a lot of advantages that emerging adults can receive when they move back home, ranging from reduced rent to lower grocery costs. “This is a way of making the transition from school to work. It’s a way to smooth the way into a career.”

“There’s this stereotype of emerging adults as lazy,” Arnett says, “but that stereotype barely exists in reality.” Instead, the Clark University poll found that 75% of emerging adults wish they could live on their own — even if it means a somewhat tighter budget. “They really want to move out, but in the modern economy, it really does take longer to become financially self-sufficient,” he insists.

When Is It Time To Go?

At some point, though, the baby bird really does need to leave the nest. When an emerging adult has a handle on debt, as well as a stable source of income that he or she can rely on, it might be time to begin easing out the door. But the transition doesn’t need to be abrupt.

Arnett thinks the time back home with mom and dad can be very helpful, as long as emerging adults are making an effort to improve the situation. “Are they making steps toward self-sufficiency? Do they have a plan?” He recommends that emerging adults sit down with their parents and talk about what’s next. A five-year plan can be a good place to start.

When parents feel like they can start charging their kids rent, and the emerging adults can handle a step up in expenses, and start taking on more of the financial responsibility, it’s time to begin the process of moving out. “Personal readiness to move out often comes before financial readiness,” Arnett points out. “Even if they get along with their parents, many emerging adults prefer to be on their own.”

So, the real test is when you can actually support yourself without as much help from mom and dad. You’ll probably always need that emotional support system, but the goal is to become financially independent.

(Photo: Danny Choo)

{ 19 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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19 Responses to “When Is It Time for You To Move Out Of Mom and Dad’s?”

  1. Daniel says:

    Immediately after graduating college, I was on my own, but after 2 years of working in DC I quit my job and moved across the country to California.

    I stayed with my fiance’s parents for 2 weeks, which turned into 2 months, and even after I got a job (and at any point I could afford to get my own place, they were begging me to stay and save the money), I ended up staying for 8 months until my company moved to a new location and the perk saving 30 minutes each way on the commute was gone.

    I have several friends who moved back home, and they definitely see less of an urgency to move forward. They’re more likely to go back to school, as opposed to those who are on their own and hustle to get a job before the money runs out.

  2. Michelle says:

    I moved out when I was 18 (didn’t have a choice). While it was hard, it worked out for the best.

  3. MB says:

    Ohhh…two minds on this topic.

    I went off to college at 18. This particular school did not permit students under a certain age to live off campus except with immediate family. Nice way to suck in more money and fees for them. My family lived in a rural area where summer jobs were not plentiful or good. So I had to go home and earn little to no summer money. It set me back every single year.

    Eventually I left that college, got house mates and moved off campus. Summer jobs still not plentiful. I never had free rent from mom and dad or free laundry or free groceries again. I would see friends affording nicer houses and apartments because they didn’t have summers of unemployment or under employment and mom and dad paid part of the rent, etc. When money was really tight, I looked at friends who lived with mom and dad and had more spending money as really fortunate…hell, I envied their free laundry.

    On the flip side, I was hours away from my family. If I was out of cash, I was out of cash. There wasn’t anyone to slip me a little extra money for laundry or a night out with friends. I learned self-reliance, much more so than my siblings who lived close to my parents.

    But uh, kids, if you have a job and you’re living with your parents, no free groceries. Free laundry is one thing but chip in for groceries, utilities, etc.

  4. Barb says:

    What about what age is too old to have a roomie? I would say 27-28.

  5. Bob says:

    A person should be honest with themselves. If they are in a situation where they are going in to their mid twenties and if it were not for Mommy and Daddy supplying the roof over their head they would be homeless.Their parents are not doing them any favors. These “adult” kids need to start to figure life/how to survive out because it doesn’t get any easier the older they get. A parent if better off having their “child” get their own place and for a short while help them with rent if they have to. One day these “adults” will realize Mommy and Daddy wont be around forever.

  6. admiral58 says:

    Right after college

  7. Gloria says:

    I have a 20 year old child she goes to a nearby university and will graduate in 2015. I am not in a hurry for her to move. It is difficult for them nowadays to be economically independent , so you have to let them do the process gradually. They need to save and have a good salary to be able to leave.

  8. dragonflower says:

    Parents do their young adult children NO favors at all by allowing them to live at home after graduating from college. They end up “enabling” the dependency of their children.

    If the young adults would live in an urban area in a studio apartment and take the bus/subway everywhere, they should be able to manage on their own. They need to learn survival skills. If they are working at minimum wage and things are really tight, it would be better for the parents to buy their groceries for them or pay 1/2 their rent, rather than allow them to move back home. The goal should be “assistance,” not “dependence.”

    Another alternative is to rent a room in the house of an elderly person at a reduced rate in exchange for doing house maintenance tasks such as raking, snow shoveling, etc. I’ve actually know some people who did this in order to make ends meet.

    I shake my heads at a few friends who continue to enable their adult children indefinitely…..some are 30 years old and still living at home! This is unhealthy co-dependence for sure!

    • Jake says:

      It really depends on how the parents raise their children.

      After graduating college and living on my own for a few years, I returned back home for work and lived with my parents until I got married at 32.

      And in those years I lived with them, I was able to save a lot of money (6 figures). I actually bought a house while I was still living with them and rented it out.

      Now that I’m married, I already have enough saved for my future kids education (all the way to college), a house that’s halfway paid off, and a very nice nest egg.

      And aside from the house, I have no debt at all. I’m very grateful to my parents in not only giving me a place to stay, but also in teaching me how to save and use my money smartly.

  9. Jake says:

    I think a lot of this is cultural as well. In a lot of European and Asian cultures, it’s often traditional for adult children to live at home until they are married.

    The family works and saves together.

  10. In our family’s case, it started out as financial necessity for our adult son to continue to live at home while finding a steady job. Now that he has finally found that steady job and is close to being ready to move out, both parents have become disabled and depend on him for help with errands, and the rent money he pays enables them to stay in their home instead of losing it to foreclosure. Every family has it’s own particular needs, and there is no set “cut-off date” for every one in the world. Pointing fingers and accusing others of being lazy, or enabling, helps no one. You cannot possibly know what each family is going through, so get over it already and MYOB!

  11. MrCoffeeCup says:

    From the parents point of view: Early on my wife and I explained to our children that they could live at home as long as necessary while attending school and beginning their careers. And why did we tell them this? Because we liked our Children…! We enjoy their presence! Yup, we like you just because you belong to us! Our emphasis was: educate and train yourself with the best skills to become gainfully employed at the OCCUPATION/WORK that you enjoyed.
    Second goal was to work at joining the adult world, enjoying the pursuit of adulthood, aka, with studies, working part time if possible, developing good work ethic; developing new wholesome friendships within good Judeo Christian values. They did that.
    In comparison a neighbor who couldn’t wait for their children to leave the nest; we let our children know that we enjoyed them, loved them, were proud of them, hoping that when they did leave, they always knew any return was welcome.

    Economics, frugality, due diligence, creative ideas, cooperation, forward looking goals were always part of the grand bargain. Slacker attitude was not tolerated in our home.

    However, every person needs to face a “struggle” in their journey. Necessity being the mother of invention; their early adulthood was filled with struggles which require creativity to solve problems. We helped our children solve the solvable; providing solutions only when they couldn’t. They knew “we have your back” but you must do the work to survive. During the journey, our daughter suffered a stroke, my son had an interruption in schooling due to finances, yet both succeeded. Getting experience can be most enjoyable I told my kids. Plan your work, work your plan…and it’s oh so much fun to watch your plans come together for success.

    In conclusion, we(wife and I) are very proud of our children. They, in what they do, bring us “honor” into our lives.

  12. Richard says:

    I am 60 and moved back in with my folks at their invitation 2 years ago. I have passive income and make money wherever their is a internet connection.

    What prompted this? My mother has Alzheimer’s and it was getting to be too much for dad to take care of her, alone. They have the funds and long term care insurance [dad could live in assisted living and mom in memory care in a hybrid facility], but they prefer to “age in place”. Plus they are in their early 90’s.

    I was present 14 months ago when my dad had his stroke. I was able to recognize it and get immediate help. That probably caused it be classified as a ‘mild’ stroke. He has some cognitive and short term memory issues, but other than that no one would know he had had a stroke.

    Since moving in with them mom has deteriorated quite rapidly and is at a level 6 out of 7 or severe to profound as to her Alzheimer’s.

    She did fall this summer and that took her to the hospital and then a skilled nursing facility for a month. Was home 6 days and went back with a severe kidney infection and another month in skilled nursing. She went downhill quite fast. But we brought her home and she rebounded quite quickly to her pre-hospital state. She is happier at home.

    Today I am their scheduler, shopper, driver, dresser, cook, advocate, financial affairs handler and a bunch more.

    Attending conferences and training opportunities, I have found I am not alone. And I am male.

    To comment on your article and question: after high school went to a local college for 1 year, got married, moved out and have been on my own since then. The wife and I both went to college 300 miles away, had jobs, scholarships, grants and such and paid our own way. Our total borrowing was under $7,000.

  13. Clark says:

    In answer to the title question: yesterday.

  14. admiral58 says:

    Depending on where you live, no roommates by 29-30. NYC would be tough to get your own place unless you were bringing in a lot of money.

  15. Kris says:

    Clearly there are a lot of variables. My oldest son is 19 years old and I expect him to live home for at least a few more years, while he finishes college and gets started with a career. Once he graduates and gets work, he will be expected to contribute to living expenses and car expenses. Hopefully this will teach him to manage his money and get a head start on moving out.

  16. Catryn says:

    There are some cases where events aboslutely
    mean there is a delay of some kind.
    Illness, car accident, trauma, etc.

    However, for the most part it is better
    to get out and use the present economy
    in your favour rather than seeing it
    as an excuse not to position yourself in it.
    i.e. find opportunities rather than limitations.

    Years ago, I would have said differently
    (I’m 64) However, I’ve seen some research
    that shows that these children who
    live at home and are able-bodied – end
    up achieivng less in their life-time –
    because the support from the parents
    gets factored in.

    I had to go out at age 16 and take care of
    myself and help out others. But perhaps,
    overall, this was a good thing. To be
    out in the market place – it’s always
    tough in some sector – never perfect –
    and to find opportunities where I could.

    I think the research I mention above
    was in ‘The Millionaire Next Door’
    by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko.
    Still, we must always check out any
    research as well.

    Many youth in my neighbourhood who are
    getting employed are putting two factors
    together. One example, He Likes to teach, but there are no teaching jobs in School’s. Has a secondary interest (what ever that is)
    Then, he can teach this subject or interest
    in a corporate setting The above person has graduated
    with a Teaching Diploman or equivalent, but
    is unable to work in Elementary or High Shcool,
    due to over-supply of qualified teachers.

    It takes some inventiveness and creativity.
    and lateral thinking.


  17. Shirley says:

    Our youngest, at 21, has just recently moved out. He still does his laundry here and eats here about once a week. Why? Because while he is here he does things in the house and yard that we are no longer able to do. It’s a win-win situation.

  18. DMoney says:

    For all of you guys poo-pooing parents who “enable” their kids to live at home during their mid 20s, you have to realize that things are quite different from when you were that age.

    Many kids graduate with insane college debt, and many — if they can even find a job — are severely under employed, so surviving on one’s own is significantly more challenging.

    Not to mention that an undergrad degree has about as much value as a high school diploma in many fields and grad school isn’t cheap — so that’s even more debt.

    Also from the parent’s angle, many of them are older, and could use the help around the house to handle strenuous house keeping tasks.

    So yea, in a perfect world, a kid goes to college, gets job and is on their own. But unfortunately that’s not how it works anymore.

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