Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Tips for moving back in with your parents

Immediately after high school, I moved out on my own for the first time – heading to a university in Michigan on a full athletic scholarship. It was so exciting (and scary) to be living away from home for the first time, and my years living in Michigan were a great experience. But, as expected, moving back into my parents home was tough – and it wasn’t long before I had moved out again into my own apartment in downtown Victoria.

When I was 22, I moved back in with my parents. I was in debt, about to go back to college, and just couldn’t afford to live on my own anymore. I didn’t want to go back home, but I knew it was for the best. Looking back on it now, if I hadn’t moved back home, my debt could have easily doubled by the time I finally graduated.

My story isn’t uncommon; many 20-somethings end up moving back home. Some might move home until they’ve graduated and can find a job. Others might move home to get out of debt, save for a specific goal, or just get their lives back in order. Whatever the case may be, it’s almost never going to be a smooth transition from freedom to, well, living with your parents. :)

So for those of you who are reluctant and unsure of how to transition back to living with your parents, here are a few tips I’ve learned that might help:

Get a part-time job

Chances are, your parents won’t be charging you “real life” rent while you’re still in school, or trying to get back on your feet. When I lived at home, even with my reduced expenses, I still took on three part-time jobs, along with attending college on a full-time basis. It was extremely difficult, but very satisfying. Maybe taking on three jobs is a little extreme, but make sure to at least have some income coming in.

I didn’t have to pay rent while I was taking full-time classes, but I was expected to pay for everything else on my own – like utilities, groceries, car expenses, and of couse, my education. Having my own source of income allowed me to stay independent, and it also made me much less of a financial burden on my parents.

Contribute to the household

Cooking your family dinner, doing the laundry, or cleaning the house will show that you value and appreciate your parents – and they are all things you would have to do if you lived on your own anyway. If your parents pay the household utilities, cable/internet bill, and your food, consider contributing a little money each month as well. It doesn’t have to be a lot of money, but your gesture might mean a lot to your parents. Remember that moving back home does not mean you get to completely mooch off your parents! Doing your part to help the household will go a long way to building a good relationship with your family.

Take advantage of your opportunity

The worst thing you can do when you move back in with your parents is to squander the opportunity to change your financial future, so don’t get lazy or comfortable. Your time at home is likely limited, and this could be your only chance to really put a dent in your debt, or save for that emergency fund.

It’s also a good idea to set some money aside from when you have to leave the nest again. But how much should you save before moving out? It will vary for each person, but aside from having an emergency fund, you should also think about the cost of rent (including damage deposit and first month’s rent), apartment insurance, utility set-up fees and expenses, furniture, moving van rentals, as well as any other miscellaneous expenses.

Establish an exit strategy

Before moving back home, take some time to discuss an exit plan with your parents. Will you be allowed to live at home as long as you’re a full-time student? What about once you graduate? Having the answers to these questions will help you and your parents better prepare for your future.

After I graduated, my parents allowed me to stay at home until I found a permanent job. However, once I graduated, I started paying rent as well. It took me 18 months of going from temporary jobs and contract positions to finally land a permanent full-time job. But that extra time at home also allowed me to eliminate all $20,000 of my student loan and credit card debt, create a small emergency fund, and save enough money to make the move to Vancouver.

What tips do you have for moving back in with your parents?

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. Maureen says:

    I agree you have to have that converstaion which crosses all the t’s and dots all the i’s.
    Our situation is completely the opposite from yours in as much as it is my Mother-in-Law who has moved back in with us.
    Have you ever tried to make rules in your own home when you are looked on as the child ? and we are in our sixties….

  2. Amy says:

    I moved back in with my parents when I was 23. The biggest adjustment was just getting accustomed to their schedules. I was used to going to bed late and sleeping late (well, “late” for them – they are up at 5:30). Initially there was some butting of heads over stuff like that. I was in a long-distance relationship and really bad about hogging the phone too. There were definitely some kinks to work out at first, but by the time I was ready to move back out, I was sad to go and my mom actually cried when I was packing up the car, haha!

  3. Jordann says:

    Personally I could never move back in with my parents, it would take some severe financial hardship to consider that, but I think these tips are great for making that kind of a move as smooth as possible!

  4. 100% agree about capitalizing on the opportunity. I moved out at 19 and never went back, but I definitely would have used the chance to get a jump start on my finances. If you find yourself living at home again, make sure to take advantage (and yes, definitely help out around the house)!

  5. I would 100% live at home to get a jump start on finances. Mom’s cooking would be a very compelling icing on the cake.

  6. Cait says:

    Contributing to the household was always my #1 goal, during the 6 months I was back at home. The other thing that’s important to remember is, for those who have experienced independence, you go through periods at home where you sort of… want to scream at your family. Mom being nice feels like she’s been nosy. Dad offering to help feels like you can’t do something on your own. I reminded myself on a daily basis that they were looking out for my best interest and that I would be in bad shape without them.

  7. billie says:

    your post has come at the perfect time…just a couple days ago i made the decision to move back home for a few months. not an easy one, for sure. however it’s me who has gotten myself into a financial mess, so it’s time to get real and do whatever i can to get out of it. the reality is that i can’t afford the lifestyle i’m living now…and the denial of that is what got me into this mess in the first place. i am fortunate to have opportunity to put the $1,000 (minimum) i’ll be saving on rent/utilities towards my credit line. and, you’re right – it’s about helping out my folks out too. thanks krystal.

  8. hillyholli says:

    i don’t like how you just recycled this post from the other blog you have

  9. Eve Johansen says:

    You should be able to eat your pride when you want to live with our parents while waiting for a stable job. But these techniques are helpful. Could you give us some advice on how to find relevant jobs while staying with your parents?


  10. Michelle says:

    I moved home after being out for 5 years while I got myself together. One of the first conversations I had with my parents was “Please don’t cook dinner for me. I love you but my schedule is just very different.” I’m so glad that my parents were cool enough to say OK – it set expectations right from the start and worked out much better than I feared.

    This was all a long time ago now, and I’m so grateful to them.

  11. Pamela says:

    In 1992 my parents charged me $425 per month for my room. And they expected me to have all the chores I did in high school and they rationed the hot water in the house. Refused to turn on heat/air conditioning. My sister was paying the same amount so they were pulling in $850 a month. Plus we were expected to chauffeur our little brother in high school around.

    I left in 1994 because I got married. My wedding was the first week in the month and they still wanted THAT full month’s rent.

  12. Layla says:

    I go home and feel suffoccated after two weeks. So I think a few more things, to stave off the unmotivatedness, are:
    -find something to do like a weekly activity like a dance class or band practice or whatever, that way you can get yourself back on track when you feel super lazy
    -make arrangements for helping out with making meals and dishes and stuff, before you move back in, because once you feel you have your parents breathing down your neck you aren’t likely to voluntarily do the dishes

  13. These are some really great points! When moving back in with parents, it can be easy to feel depressed and sink down into that instead of remembering that this is a chance to recharge and move forward. Your tips illustrate how one can move back in with their parents while maintaining independence, being considerate to the household, and keeping an eye on the future. I wish I had this kind of foresight after college when I was still living with my parents – it would have been a much better experience for me and them!

  14. Emily says:

    I would never, ever move home in my 20’s. It’s something that I wouldn’t want to deal with, and also, my mom and stepdad wouldn’t even want me back. They did their part, they raised me and I moved out into the world. Part of getting into debt is having the courage and strength to get out of it without running home to mom&dad. I feel that responsibility isn’t being looked at here. It’s harder but more admirable to do it on your own instead of getting assistance from the parents.

  15. Cecilia says:

    I think overall you make some really good points – but the other qualifier I would put in here would relate to personalities. Our 20’s are some of the most formative years of our lives, and for the largely post-secondary-bound North American set, it’s also when we discover more about ourselves, including lifestyles and spending habits.

    I would never move back with my folks – I value the open relationship we’ve developed *because* I’ve been able to grow my own life apart from theirs over the years. I think sometimes, you need that kind of space. And I’m not adverse to paying rent to get it.

  16. Tami says:

    I am 30 weeks pregnant and was just hospitalized for pre-term labor. Everything is stable now, however from the many doctors appointments and now the hospitalization, my medical bills are out of control. My in-laws live closer to my hospital than I do and I would be able to spend what little money I have coming in, now that I am on disability, on my medical bills instead of $1000 a month in rent. Although the move would only be for a few months….and I’d have to break a lease and cancel a direct tv contract as well as moving and storage unit expenses….would it be worth it?

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Well even with the cost to break a lease and cancel your TV contract, you’d probably save money over the next few months if you moved into your in-laws home, right? Plus I’m sure it would be comforting being with family while you’re pregnant. Personally I would probably move, but only if you have a good relationship with them and you can handle the stress of moving twice. Since you said it would only be for a few months, and I assume you’d have to move somewhere else afterwards.

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