Moving Home: 6 Tips to Smooth the Transition

Secrets from happy "boomerang" families

Mother and daughter talking
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Long after their parents launched them from the nest, some 60% of the nation's single, young adults end up moving back home – so many that the media has taken to calling them the "Boomerang Generation" (which is hardly fair, considering that 90% of the bebop generation lived at home as single, young adults too). But it's enough to give any empty nester pause. How does this even work? How long will they stay? Do you charge rent? And do you still have to wash their socks?

Many families are delighted to welcome back an adult child and temporarily “refill” their empty nest, particularly when it coincides with a difficult transition in their children’s lives, say researchers at the University of Texas. But there are some caveats. Happy “re-filled" families tend to have several things in common. Check out these six tips, as well as the Everything You Need to Know When Grown Kids Move Home guide.

  • They Set a Time Limit: Whether the boomerang kid is getting a divorce, returning to school, or saving for a down payment on a house, set a time limit – three weeks, three months, a year – and define mutual expectations for house rules and responsibilities.
  • Set Goals: Why is the child returning home? To pay off credit card debt? Recover from a bad split? Look for a new job? It's important to talk frankly about the reasons, financial or otherwise, behind this new living arrangement, and lay plans for the transition back to independence.
  • Discuss Rent: The returning, adult child should pay rent or contribute to the household in another, substantial way. Roughly half the nation’s “boomerang kids” pay rent, ranging anywhere from $200 a month to the going market rate. Some families start at one rate. Then, as an incentive for their child to move out, they raise the monthly rent a predetermined amount as the month's tick by. Others charge rent, but set the money aside and present it as a nest egg when junior moves out.
  • Set Chores: Whether it’s in lieu of rent or in addition, include household chores- making dinner twice a week, for example, buying groceries, doing laundry or yard work. Otherwise, it’s too easy to slip back into the mom-takes-care-of-everything mode, which does nothing to foster independence and much to breed resentment.
  • Discuss Guests and Booze: It's unrealistic to set curfews for a fully-grown, independent adult, but it's important to discuss and agree on a set of household rules, particularly when it comes to hot-button issues such as late night or overnight guests, relationships, and alcohol or other substance issues.
  • Make a Contract: And finally, whatever the plan, whether it’s rent, chores, household rules and/or time limits, discuss it and spell it out beforehand, and put it in writing. Click here for a sample rental contract.