Is your college grad moving back home? Mine just did!

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Joan Lunden

Teens & College /

Mooommmm, Daaaaaddd, get my bed ready....I'm moving back home!

For four years our kids have learned to live on their own, make decisions by themselves and get their own meals. And now just when they are “all grown up”, they move back home and you find yourself cooking for them and cleaning up after them. I don’t think they mean to revert back to children, it just happens when they are around us. 

According to, this time last year, 77% of college grad job seekers ended up moving back home with their parents after graduation. That was up from 73% from the previous year 2007, and 67% since 2006. With today’s bleak job market, this year’s number is expected to be even higher.

To help ensure a successful transition from graduate-to back home-to back on their own, advises that live-at-home grads make the search for a job their full-time job. “Set your alarm and show up to your job search as you would a full-time job.” As parents, we can help assist our grads in that process but otherwise, it’s not so wise to make them too comfortable.

Another recent article from Money magazine “When the Kids Move Back In” suggested that while parents might need to provide some financial assistance until their grads get a job, they should insist that the grad be responsible for taking care of all their own bills; cell phones, iTunes, and credit cards. 

Parents should set up some financial parameters around this living arrangement that helps the new graduate learn how to budget and to save for the eventual move to independence. You can have your returning son or daughter pay a nominal amount for food, utilities, even the rent. This way if a parent actually needs the money, then this arrangement can help defray some of the family living expenses. If the parent doesn’t need the money, a sum can be saved and put towards the move-in costs to an apartment. 

Here’s some advice for parents:

  • Establish ground rules early: Some families with adult children living back at home find a contract can help formalize the rules and keep everyone on the same page. Who’s going to do your grads laundry? What do you expect them to do around the house? Will it bother you if they come home in the middle of the night?
  • Decide ahead of time how they will contribute: They may not be able to afford market-value rent, but adult children living at home could help make a dent in the extra expenses they create (extra gas, higher phone bill, etc.). Make sure this is clear before they start packing up the dorm. 
  • Don’t help too much: A college grad is capable of painting their room and planning their own move. Don’t take care of all the details or you’ll find yourself doing laundry and making lunches once they’re home.
  • Set a deadline for them to leave: Though it may sound harsh, setting a time limit ahead of time helps keep everyone focused on the fact that eventually the new grad needs to establish their independence. 
  • Stay calm: Proactively setting the ground rules for adult children moving home can help prevent stress-induced blowups that can permanently damage important family relationships when there are adult children living at home.

Advice for the returning graduates? suggests they ask themselves a few questions:

  • How much of your private life do you want to share? How will you handle having guests over, use of phone/internet/TV, smoking/non-smoking etc.
  • Are your parents cool with this live-in idea? Remember you will be accountable to the person who pays the mortgage. You are now moving back into your parent's house, not 'your' house.
  • Do you have a plan as to how to live in the house and maintain your privacy? Maybe you could re-do a basement? Which bathroom will you use?
  • Have you discussed in advance how you’ll handle expenses? Will you be expected to contribute to rent (even if minimal) or groceries? If you have no money coming in, you could offer to do weekly grocery shopping, baby-sitting if here are younger siblings around, helping with eldercare, or even cooking meals.

And remember this may be the one last time you get to spend quality time living with your adult children, so enjoy it! I know I am!

Categories: Teens & College
About The Author
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Joan Lunden truly exemplifies today’s modern working woman. An award-winning journalist, bestselling author, motivational speaker, successful entrepreneur, one of America’s most recognized and trusted television personalities, this mom of seven continues to do it all. As host of Good Morning America for nearly two decades, Lunden brought insight to top issues for millions of Americans each day. The longest running host ever on early morning television, Lunden reported from 26 countries, covered 4 presidents and 5 Olympics and kept Americans up to date on how to care for their homes, their families and themselves.

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