You packed them off to college. You shed a little tear of pride at their graduation. You gladly moved them back home so they could look for their first full time job. They found one! You moved their bed and a few boxes into their first shared apartment (secretly glad it wasn’t you who had to live there.) The roommate was a flake, the job didn’t work out. They’re coming home. Again.
This is why they are called boomerang kids. Let’s face it, it’s tough out there for young people. The cost of living is sky-high, and the job market is dicey. Moving back home doesn’t have to be the end of the world for you or your kids. It can be nice to provide a place for your adult children to regroup before their final launch into the world. Some people report forging even closer bonds by helping their child through a time of adversity (and remember, maybe someday they will do the same for you.)
But it doesn’t matter if you are happy, sad, or just resigned, there are still some ground rules that need to be established. It may seem awkward to have a formal agreement with your child, but it will save you both some heartache down the road. Here are some general guidelines:
- Set a target exit date. Whether it is six months or six years (!), this will help your son or daughter set clear goals for getting a job that pays a living wage and finding new digs, and hopefully keep them on track for those goals.
- Charge rent. I know, if they could afford rent they wouldn’t be sleeping in a twin-sized bed surrounded by old Star Wars posters and/or Barbie dolls, but charging rent keeps it real for both of you. It doesn’t have to be market rate for your neighborhood, it just has to be enough to make them take it seriously. After all, their return has an impact on your household economy. If you are still a little reluctant, I saw one really good tip in this article at MagnifyMoney.com : if you can afford it, you could consider setting their rent money aside until they move out, then presenting it to them as a kind of family 401K. Pretty cool.
- Establish house rules. They are adults now. There is no reason they shouldn’t do their fair share around the house like good roommates, whether it is preparing meals, light housekeeping, or mowing the lawn. You also need to make it clear that they cannot negatively impact the quality of your life with loud friends and late hours. Be firm but fair.
- Set limits for their belongings. They probably came back with more than they left with, so discuss storage issues. Encourage them to part with some of their possessions. Perhaps they can take advantage of garage sales and eBay to make a little extra cash while they lighten the load. If they came back with furniture, it might make economic sense to consider renting a small storage unit, since the cost of the unit could be less than replacing the furniture. Make them share the cost (or pay for it outright), as further incentive for finding a new home for themselves and their furniture.
- Take advantage of the time together. This is an opportunity to get to know the adult version of your child, so don’t just grit your teeth and expect the worst. You might find a lot to like about them. You might even look back on these days as a lovely time you got to spend with your best friend.
If you and your boomerang kids live in Southern California, be sure to check out the two new members of the Dollar Self Storage family: Alton Self Storage in Irvine, and Dollar Self Storage in Jurupa Valley.