Young 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 )