Boomerang Kids: What to Do When Your College Grad Moves Back Home

Guest Post by Paul Benjamin

Paul Benjamin works for EZ Storage, a self storage company serving the Philadelphia area for over 40 years.

If you are one of the many who’s children have “re-nested” after going away to college, take heart. You are not alone:

  • The Pew Research Center reports that more young people between the ages of 25-34 live at home with their parents at the highest rate (20 percent) since the early 1950’s.
  • A recent study released by Northeastern University estimates that 53 percent of young adults under age 25 with a bachelor’s degree were underemployed or unemployed.
  • In late 2012, the Economic Policy Institute pegged the unemployment rate for high school graduates somewhere around 53 percent.

While these harsh realities say one thing to the young generation, they mean an altogether different reality for their parents. Many parents understand changing economic and cultural dynamics that make it necessary for grown children to move back home. They love their child and want to provide the support necessary to help him or her regroup and regain their independence.

Nonetheless, it’s critical to strike a balance between the desire to help an offspring and your peace, happiness and style of living to which you’ve become accustomed.

Here are some considerations that will aid you in making the transition:
1. Move-in and Exit Strategy

All parties involved need to have a clear understanding of the expectations prior to the scheduled move-in date. Many experts recommend that you establish a lease agreement that defines the “rental period” (i.e. month-to-month) and house rules. You should also charge rent.

It is also important that you set expectations or house rules that go beyond the lease agreement, such as:  assisting with chores, paying for groceries or entertaining friends.

Outline the exit strategy at the start. Define whether that means finding a job, returning to school or other situations.  Schedule a meeting to determine if they will be able to move-out at the end of the period or need additional time.

2. Handling Storage Issues

A child moving home from college or from their own apartment accumulates quite a few things over the years. Take steps to minimize the impact of having the person move their belongings back into your home, cluttering your space and well-organized home.

Before the move is made, encourage your children to go through their items and donate, sell or otherwise dispose of anything they no longer want or require.  If you need to create more storage space around the house find a place where they can store their things and not mingle them with your own. This could be a garage, attic, shed or extra bedroom.

Make good use of storage boxes. You can find stack-able boxes in all sizes, shapes and materials. Plastic containers provide protection against water mold and rodents.  Arrange the items —furniture, books, dishes, appliances— according to how or where you intend to store them and always clearly label the boxes.

You should also group and prioritize things according to frequency of access to reduced disorganizing the space when looking for things. For example, put the most used items on top or in the front of other boxes. Sturdy shelves to hold storage boxes also make it easier to remove one box at a time.

3. Renting Storage Space

In some cases, creating storage space in your home is not a workable option to accommodate the personal belongings of an adult child.  In this case, discuss renting a storage unit to store their furniture and belongings until they need them again.

Make a list of the items you want to store, which will help you get the correct size and plan the organization and associated costs.

The good thing about renting storage units is the flexibility. You can use this solution for one month, six months or an entire a year based on your situation. If you choose this option, consider the rental fee and what it includes,and also the firm’s policy for access.

Remember, when an adult child moves back home your primary objective lies in minimizing the impact on your finances, your lifestyle and the organization of your home. Ultimately, you want to facilitate the child regaining their independence while maintaining a harmonious home environment and relationship.

If you’ve got “boomerang kids” let us know the good, the bad, the ugly! Leave a comment:


2 thoughts on “Boomerang Kids: What to Do When Your College Grad Moves Back Home

  1. SirLaundria

    I have a son moving to Manhattan for Graduate School and I need suggestions on how to organize his apartment.Any products that will help(not expensive)He has been home while at Temple,so we will need to store things also.

    • Debbie

      It’s hard to suggest without seeing the apartment but some general ideas for small spaces are:
      * choose furniture with built-in storage – beds with drawers, end tables with cabinets under, etc.
      * go vertical – use hooks for accessories, wall pockets for paperwork, tall thin book shelves, wall shelves
      * Space bags for linens & clothes that can be stored off season.
      For storing his stuff, simple Rubbermaid containers with locking lids. Categorize his items and label the bins.
      Stores I like for all of these: Bed, Bath & Beyond, Target & Home Goods.

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