I recently came across an article in The Guardian about how European youths are moving home due to a slowing economy. This week I got a call from my mom telling me that a friend confided in her and complained about her 25 year old daughter announced she’s moving back home. My mom gave me an earful about the “kids today” and how their parents aren’t teaching them accountability. In fact, I’ve heard many people take a stab at today’s youngest segment of the workforce for moving home after college. How could this be happening around the world? Is it truly a generational things or just circumstantial?
In the middle of the conversation I reminded my mom that both my sister, now in her late-30s, and I had actually done the same thing. My sister was the flakey one so it might have been expected, but me the responsible older sister. Yet, I moved home after I graduated as I found myself struggling in graduate school, maxed out on student loans and sleeping on couches as the San Francisco housing market blew up. I remember several of my friends, now in their early 40s, moving home after college to support their travel or graduate studies. Are the generations really that different when it comes to financial struggles after college?
Although I’m sure there are exceptions to this statement, I believe that every generation faced a different set of circumstances when they graduated. Graduates today are hit in the face with record unemployment rates, the highest student loan debt in history and parents who live in houses and in places that they themselves probably won’t be able to afford at the same age. I wonder if my mom wouldn’t have done the same if she were faced with the same set of circumstances.
I have met some entitled young professionals in my career, but more times than not, I have learned that this new generation has learned from the prior ones and are focusing on different things. I’m sometimes envious at their boldness about not wanting to live and die in a cubicle, at their belief that there is something bigger than a meaningless 9 to 5 job and that proving yourself doesn’t mean winning the race to the biggest office. Could it be that older generations are just jealous? Are they happy with the path they’ve taken? The sacrifices they’ve made? Would they do it all again if given the choice?
If you do end up in this situation, whether good or bad in your opinion, there are a few questions you should answer up front so you don’t get stuck and fit the negative stereotype many have about you already. Make sure you are clear about the following.
- What is my goal in moving back home? If financial, how much do I need to have saved before I move out? If it’s finding a job, what is my strategy to find one? It’s easy to get comfortable and revert to the years of summer breaks and sleeping in.
- How will I contribute? No one likes a free loader. Agree to a set of responsibilities with your parent/s. Will you pay a small rent? Cover utilities? Do the grocery shopping? Clean the house once a week? This not only makes for a more amicable living situation, it will also make you feel good about yourself.
- What’s the benefit to your parent/s? Wouldn’t it be nice if you weren’t the only one benefiting from the situation? What does your parent/s get out of it? Will they be able to save some money themselves for a nice vacation? Does grandma need rides to the doctor’s office? Will your mom now have someone to makes dinners on her late night’s working?
In the end you have to do what’s best for you and your family. Don’t be embarrassed to move back home if the situation warrants it. You’re not the first college grad to do this and I promise you won’t be the last. Just make sure you have a clear set of goals and don’t get too comfortable. You don’t want to end up the 40 year old who lives in their parent’s basement.