How to Survive Moving Back Home After Graduation

We’ve received a couple questions lately from readers asking our advice for how to move back home, with mom/dad/grandma as landlord.  With only 56% of 2010 grads working full-time jobs and those working taking pay cuts, it’s become a usual first step in post-college living.

And, it’s OK. It’s just the financial reality right now.

I know that when I had to move home after college, I felt deflated at first, like I was somehow failing. It made me a real grouch to live with and the entire experience proved all the more difficult. So, if  I had to give one main suggestion, it would be to try hard to go into the move with a positive attitude.

Then, work with your family to set some ground rules.

One of our reader’s grandmother asks for rent – but also treats her granddaughter’s room like it’s still part of her house, stopping in whenever she’d like, as opposed to respecting privacy. That situation is a bit tricky, as of course,  offending grandma doesn’t help anyone. . . but at the same time, it  feels that the typical benefits of paying rent (i.e. autonomy from the landlord) aren’t happening.

If this is happening to you, try sitting down with your family to formally discuss your living situation. After you’ve set the rent (if that applies), ask your family to expressly line out what more they expect from you (i.e. do they expect you to help cook, clean, etc?)

Coming to terms with them at the onset of your living arrangement  will make the situation less awkward later.

Outline your needs as well – such as respecting your room as a private place. Consider what it must feel like for your family members to suddenly have you at home semi-permanently as the new grown-up you are – not the high school senior who left home four years ago. You’ll have to ease them into the notion that you’re an independent grown-up, and in this situation nothing speaks louder than actions.

Finally, while you may not feel that you need to let your mom know if you’ll be coming in late, do her a solid. She won’t worry and you won’t get hassled later.  Remember, compromise is at the core of any roommate relationship – even if your roommates are your mom and dad.

And if at all possible, consider changing your room. It will make it feel like a new space (i.e. not your childhood bedroom) and be a signal to your parents that you’re no longer a little kid. If you’re thinking you’d rather save the $ for your new place – know that you can bring multiple items with you (duvet cover, lamps, etc). So, it’s more like an investment in your future than beautifying your past.

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Author My First Apartment

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I've lived in apartments in 6 cities (including 2 foreign countries). Does that make me an expert? As of now, my ceiling isn't leaking and I don't have rodents (knock on wood) -- so I'm going to say yes . . . but ask me again tomorrow:) These days, I'm enjoying life Chicago style, but my years in Brooklyn are never far from my mind. P.S. By day I work at, but these opinions are totally, 100% my own.

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Comments (1)

  1. Lindsay

    I’m the one that wrote in about my grandmother. I rent a basement apartment in the house that she owns, and she walks in unannounced almost every day. My dad’s helping me mediate the situation, but it’s a tricky one – unfortunately, if it comes down to it, I might have to get touchy and bring up tenant rights… Especially since she denies to anyone who asks that she’s ever been down to my apartment. There are benefits to living with family, of course – one of which being that this is a totally new experience for me (moving to a city of about 100 000 after living in Toronto my whole live) and it’s nice to have family close by. This article helped me see it from the perspective that, to her, I’m not a tenant, I’m just living with her. I’m going to work on establishing more boundaries, but until then, I’m going to enjoy getting to know my first apartment with the help of this website.