Let’s come right out and say it: finding a job in this economy is hard. Surveys by TwentysomethingInc. and MonsterTrak.com show that 50-65% of college students graduating in 2009 are planning on moving back in with their parents. While the prospect of “boomeranging” (i.e., leaving home only to return four years later) does not faze some students, others find it somewhat daunting, if not outright depressing. There are, of course, undeniable challenges that come with returning to a room you thought you’d left for good, but several career experts have pointed out that there are perks, as well.
In fact, Ryan Healy, the co-founder of Brazen Careerist, argues that moving back in with your parents as a twenty-something might actually be a smart and responsible career move. The crucial few years under your childhood roof could give you the time to figure out how best to reach your career goals, instead of forcing you to take a job you don’t want merely because it pays well. It also allows you to save enough money to ensure your first couple of years living on your own don’t send you (further) into debt. Finally, it will give you the time you need to make the transition between college and work life, which, according to Healy, most people genuinely struggle with.
Nevertheless, making the decision to return home (not to mention actually living there!) requires careful planning and forethought. Here are some tips that might make the transition easier.
Identify your position. When you’re staring up every night at the same ceiling you did when you were eight, it’s easy to feel like a child (and to be potentially treated like a child) once again. The sense of freedom gained from living alone may suddenly disappear, and it is better to deal with this situation before it actualizes. Talk openly and honestly with your parents if you’ll be expected to be home at a certain time, if you will have to ask permission before bringing guests home, whether you’ll be paying rent, how you can help around the house, etc.
Set a move out date and have a concrete plan. If there is no prospect of ever having your own apartment, living under your parents’ roof might seem less appealing than otherwise. Establish a timeline and a plan of action for getting a job, finding an apartment and managing your finances. Even better: get your plan down on paper and have your parents look over it, approve it and sign it. That way, it’ll feel more like an official contract rather than an uneasy compromise. And (this goes without saying, of course) make good on your contract.
Pay the rent. Whether you are expected to pay rent depends on the individual circumstances and wishes of your family, but chipping in financially to some degree can go a long way in helping to make your period at home go smoothly. Not only do you feel some measure of responsibility and pride as a contributing member of the household, you also establish your independence, which might make parents less likely to criticize or manage your affairs.