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.