Moving back in with the ‘rents

Guest post by Laura Gomez

in hiding part II
I like to think I’m an expert on moving back in with the parents. I’ve done it not once, but three times.

We get on famously, which helps. Me and Dad rub along nicely, and Mum and I enjoy chatting and spending time together. She certainly prefers taking me grocery shopping, as Dad hasn’t a clue how to pack the bags and the eggs always come home squashed.

However, when they took early retirement to relax and spend more time together, I’m fairly sure they didn’t picture me upstairs in my room, still eating their food and hogging their phone line.

There’s even an official term for people like me: The Boomerang Generation. So I’m not alone, but sometimes I feel it.

In the UK, nearly 25% of men approaching 30 are still living at home, and 15% of women. There are many reasons for this, among them student debt and the economic crisis. The price of a house has also rocketed, the average age of a first-time buyer is now 38. There’s even an official term for people like me: The Boomerang Generation. So I’m not alone, but sometimes I feel it. Returning home (three times now, folks!) can often make you feel a bit of a failure, even if you know it’s just for now.

The first time I moved back home was after my undergraduate degree. I’d set off to London, rosy-cheeked and excited to start my new life. But after graduating I couldn’t find a job, so I came back home and found work at a local newspaper. I saved up and set off back to the big smoke, but ran out of cash after 9 months, and back home I came for the second time.

This time I got a job in a local bakery and saved up yet again. I had a foolproof plan. I would save up for 3 years, and move in with my boyfriend. I went to London and returned to university to get my MA in creative writing. ‘I won’t be back this time!’ I promised my mum and dad as they waved me off.

But yet again, money problems after graduating and the slow job market meant both the boyfriend and I, after a great year together, have now moved back in with our respective parents.

It can be hard, but here’s what I’ve found helpful

  • I‘ve found you need to re-evaluate your relationship with your family. A lot of my friends only see their parents at Christmas and they all say they revert back to their teenage selves – moody, sulky, arguing over the TV remote and what time they’ll be getting in on Saturday night. But if you live at home full time, you can’t allow yourself to do that. You have to relate to them as an adult.
  • Even if your parents don’t want you to pay rent, I advise doing so if you can. Not only does it contribute to the obvious costs you add to the home, it can help maintain your self-esteem.
  • Your living space is also important. There’s no chance of feeling like an independent adult if your room still boasts posters of bands you haven’t listened to since you were 17. Make your room your own, and somewhere you feel comfortable, so you won’t resent the time you have to spend there.

I’m lucky really. I could be homeless if it weren’t for my parents. And my mum could be stuck with crushed eggs if it weren’t for me.

Comments on Moving back in with the ‘rents

  1. Ah, yes! I moved back in with my parents after transferring back home to be closer to my fiance (now husband) and it was REALLY weird. I definitely second having a talk about boundaries and reworking that dynamic. Life became a whole lot easier when we all started treating each other like adults and not parents/child.

  2. I lived with my mom for 2 months when I moved back home after being away for 3.5 years for university. That was as long as we could stand one another. We had problems changing our relationship. The house is one my mum moved into after I left so she’s used to having it to herself so the only space that was remotely mine was the guest bedroom which is “mine” but also has my mum’s stuff in it. Luckily we knew it was temporary. Mum helped me find a place to live.

  3. I’m totally fascinated by the generational differences in attitudes about moving back in with parents. I mean yes: some of it is economic realities, but there’s also just a really clear, fascinating difference between GenX and GenY when it comes to living with parents … the whole Boomerang Generation concept.

  4. I am currently living at home with my mom due to financial issues. The slightly stranger part of the situation is that my fiance and cat came with me despite the fact that his parents only live four or five blocks away. We discovered upon moving back home that we couldn’t stand sleeping in separate beds after living together for two years. We are currently sleeping in my twin bed due to the fact that there honestly isn’t room for a bigger bed in my childhood bedroom. It isn’t an ideal situation but it is allowing us to set aside much needed funds for the future.

  5. Yup! Been there. Both myself and my husband many times, including in our late 20’s. Life these days is a alot harder now for us, for when our parents were our age….
    We just now bought our first home, and we are 32 and 31. It’s been a long and bumpy road.

  6. Yup, I also have done this two or three times, and it is difficult, but man your tips are so on the money. If you reevaluate your relationship, make the space your own (and dare I say “grown up”) and keep your self esteem up by paying “rent”, you will feel so much better. Also keeping the “for now” mentality. I mean, I never envisioned my first year of marriage in my husband’s mother’s basement. But hey, here I am!

  7. Yep, I too moved back home with my parents when my partner was laid off for the 2nd time that year, me being pregnant, and having my then-3 year old with us. So us 3 moved into my old bedroom until tax season when we could afford to find our own place. It was pure hell, but that’s the dynamic between my family and me, but I still consider myself fortunate that I did at least have the option even if it weren’t the happiest.

  8. For us its a little bit different. Its a mash up of expensive housing, bad times for retirees and a mutually beneficial living arrangement that brings everyones cost of living down. If we lived away from the parents we’d need to support them anyway, so this combo works and allows us to live in a nice part of town with room for our dogs etc that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford individually right now.

  9. Third time for me too at age 24 :O
    The first two times, it was to get out of debt in my last year at uni, the second time was after I moved back after a job and wanted to save up- both times it was short term, kind of planned, I was working and contributing. The third time, I lost my job and left my husband in the same month. It was a case of “I’m desperate and you don’t want me to live in the car do you?” and, as I’m still unemployed and just started a MA, it looks like I’m going to be here for a while.
    I need to get on with point number 3, but not changing anything seems like a good way to stress to myself how “impermanent” this is. I also think I’m trying to shame myself a little, like I’ve suddenly stopped being an adult.

  10. Thanks for posting this—it really hits home! I moved back in with my parents temporarily in 2002, but two days after I moved back, a traumatic event triggered a major depressive episode. I didn’t have it in me to move anywhere, let alone remember to eat; there were many days I was barely functional. My family was my safety net during this time and I will always be grateful they made room for me when I really needed it. By the time I recovered emotionally, I was back in school full-time and working VERY part time. I just didn’t have the money, so my dad said to stay home, focus on graduating, and things would work out. I graduated with my BS in 2006 at age 31 (long story) and was shortly thereafter engaged. My parents thought it was a good idea to keep staying at home until the wedding (it helps that my religion doesn’t condone sex before marriage), so I continued being an adult in my parents’ home. When my fiancé dumped me unexpectedly that October, I needed a safety net again. Had I been living alone, I don’t know what I would have done–I was very depressed for a few months and, once more, needed to be surrounded by family.

    I got a full-time job that earned enough money to move out on my own in early 2008, but every time I talked to my parents about my concerns about taking up space in their space, my dad would say “we love having you here; save your money so you can buy a condo”. We all got along really well, so I didn’t bring it up very often. In 2009, my sister (also living at home and teaching at a university part-time) was diagnosed with a PFO (hole in her heart) and had no insurance to cover the procedure or medication. Because I wasn’t spending money on rent, I was able to cover many of her expenses. In 2010, we (as a family) reevaluated our budget and my sister and I contribute to all the household expenses as if we’re in a housemate dynamic instead of a parent-child one. We don’t feel useless or burdensome, and I know it helps to be together during some really tough times. I’m not saying this works for everyone, but it works for us, probably because WE work it out.

  11. My mum moved back in with me! She moved from Australia to the UK and at the time it was meant to be long-term; but it didn’t work out so she’s back. And staying in my nice new, way oversized for us, house, until her own place is built.

    We’ve always had a good relationship although she did drive me nuts for a little while before I moved out of her place some years ago. This time, it’s my space and she’s very respectful of that. So it’s actually working really well.

  12. I think it’s also important to remember that most of the world lives in extended family households. As HeidiAprodite’s beautiful story attests to, living collectively means that you can be there for each other, financially as well as emotionally. The nuclear family, move out, start your own nuclear family cycle is only one pretty cultural specific way to go about “doing families” or “making a home.”
    My fiance and I currently live with my parents even though we both graduated from a really really really good law school and both have high paying jobs. Really really really good law schools, and even not so good ones, are really really really expensive, and this is giving us a chance to make a dent into the multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars we owe. Also, I love my parents. They’re as cool as any roommates I’ve ever had, and they love me back, and maybe I’m lucky, but they understand that I am a grown up with my own life and respect that. When we first decided to move in with them, I resisted and kept saying things like “once we pass the bar we’ll move out”…”once we get engaged we’ll move out,” and I’m sure we probably will someday. But then maybe someday they’ll want to move in with us. And it brings me so much immeasurable joy to know that we’re there for each other like that.

  13. I love all these comments. I’m glad so many of you are, or have been, in the same boat as me (and have come out the other side!)

    I really like the point eegee, Englyn and Mei make, that somewhere down the line the tables might well be turned and your parents will want to move in with you. I love that the situation can be beneficial for both sides.

  14. I just had to move back in with my parents due to financial difficulties. It has been hard remembering that it’s only temporary and I’ll be back on my feet soon enough. I get along great with my family and have been enjoying the extra time with the siblings I haven’t seen in years due to the distance. It’s just hard not to feel like I’ve failed sometimes. This article really helped.

Join the Conversation