If you graduated from college, congrats! You are now in an exclusive minority, as only about 30% of Americans have college degrees. Sounds a bit hard to believe doesn’t it? Well now you have the challenge of figuring out what to do with all your years of education. If you have a job after college, way to go! As far as you’re concerned, the unemployment rate feels like 0%. But if you are unemployed after college, then the unemployment rate feels an awful lot like 100%. Mixed in with all of this is figuring out if you need to go back and live with your parents or brave the expensive leap into the world on your own. What do you think, is living at home with your parents so bad after college?
The primary reason “boomerang kids” head back to their parents house after college is due to money. College is so expensive! It’s no wonder that more and more people are starting to question whether or not college degrees are even worth it. That’s an entire topic in itself though, which I’ll touch on another day. But my short answer is there is no clear cut yes or no answer on that one. Everybody’s situation and career goals are different, and sometimes higher education just doesn’t make sense. But personally I still lean towards promoting college degrees since I wouldn’t be where I am today without by BA and there are lots of benefits and affordable ways to go to school. I wasn’t rich, but my family and I made it work.
Finding A Job Is Tough When Your Parents Live In The Boondocks
What I want to discuss today is living at home with your parents after college. It’s quite common place nowadays as quality entry level jobs seem harder to find. The Boomer generation over 55 isn’t retiring as we hoped thereby the workforce cycle isn’t refreshing and functioning like it used to. I’ve interviewed a fair number of college grads between six months to a 1.5 years out of school who were still looking for full time work. That’s a long time!
Trying to find a job for that long without any income coming in and student loans knocking on the door can be super stressful. So it’s no wonder that a lot of grads are heading back to mom and dad’s. But that doesn’t always work out so great if your parents live out in the boondocks and you want to get a job in the city several hours away or in a different state. Using online job sites offer a lot of flexibility, but takes patience and discipline. (here’s a list of the best job sites for today’s job market)
Some employers don’t want to look at resumes that are from out of state or long distance either. One way to get around that is to use an address of a friend or relative in the area that you want to apply. Either that, or you can rent a PO box. A lot of private mail service companies offer mailboxes with normal street addresses that don’t stand out like sore thumbs on resumes like USPS PO box addresses do.
Expect Your Parents To Always Worry And Just Embrace It
If you have to park at your parents house after college, you have to be willing to accept that they’re going to worry about you. It’s just what normal parents do. Maybe they won’t actually tell you they’re worried, but you’ll see it on their faces from time to time and hear it in their questions and tone of voice. They worry because they care about you. They’re not trying to drive you bat crazy, they’re just being parents. My mom and dad still worry that I don’t eat enough and I live all the way across the country! It used to really annoy me, but once I just accepted that they worry because they love me, it became easier to brush off and isn’t a big deal anymore.
Try hard not to get irritated at your parents. The worst thing you can do is lash out at them. Remember they didn’t have to open their doors to let you back in. I know it’s hard because you’re an adult and they shouldn’t have to worry or take care of you anymore, but it’s also hard for them to stop doing parenting type things. I don’t think my mom will ever stop trying to take care of me or sending me care packages. It’s quite sweet really.
So what can you do to help them worry less? Talk to them! Ask them for advice. Talk about your fears. Keep them updated on all the things you’re doing to try and get interviews. The worst you can do is push them away and stop trying. Include them and ask them for tips on your resume and networking. Make sure to read my job interview tips too.
You Better Chip In And Save Some Dough
Just because you’re not paying rent doesn’t mean it’s okay to go out and rack up your credit card. Use your time at home to start learning about personal finance now and keeping a budget. You will thank yourself later, trust me! Arming yourself with personal finance knowledge will get you further faster in life and will also give yourself a sense of empowerment.
Also, even though you’re living at home with your parents, there is still no such thing as a free lunch. So be courteous and remember that your parents expenses just went up when you walked back in the door. Groceries, utilities, gas, etc all of these expenses are now higher with an extra person, yes that’s you, under their roof.
So please respect your elders and chip in whatever way you can. Wash the dishes, absolutely do all of your own damn laundry, help them run errands, and clean up after yourself. If you have the means you can also help pay for the increase in their expenses or even offer to pay them a set amount of money once you get a job. Don’t ever assume that your parents are happy to be paying for you or that they have endless means. Money can be a touchy subject with families, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to hide from it or always think that talking about money has to be negative or awkward. I wish I talked to my parents about money when I was younger, but better late than never. Check out my 10 Tips For Helping Family Members With Money Problems.
Still Living At Home With Your Parents After You Get A Job?
Once you finally land that job you’ve been waiting for and worked so hard to score, celebrate! Most of you will probably be itching to get your own apartment asap once that happens. But for some of you it may be harder to leave. I mean it’s gotta be tempting to have your parents continue to cover your housing costs because you’ll finally have your own money to spend on clothes, a car, going out, and such. You’ve lived with them for x amount of months already, so what’s a few more, right?
I actually know someone who’s in this position right now. He finally got a full time job a few months ago after living with his parents for about a year, but he still hasn’t moved out! He has his commute down, his mom has dinner made when he comes home, plus he has money to buy rounds of drinks for his buddies now and pay for a new car. So…how is it his parents haven’t given him the boot? I’m not sure exactly. Chances are his parents are starting to tap their feet impatiently.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, please make sure to have a heart to heart with your parents. If they are actually truly happy to have you stay (this is rather rare), agree on a monetary amount you will start contributing every month and stick to it. But better yet, work with them on an exit plan. Set a solid date and make a real effort to sign a lease on an apartment before that date. Otherwise without a plan, tension is probably going to build up in their house rather fast. Don’t take your parents kindness for granted!
Plus, becoming independent is an absolutely incredible feeling, trust me! Yes it’s scary going from the comfort and easy lifestyle of being with your parents out into the real world, but you just have to do it. Once you’re standing on your own feet your life will change completely!
Further reading: Adults Who Live With Their Parents
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Kostas @ Finance Blog Zone says
Nobody wants to move back in with the parents after living on campus, but financially it makes a great deal of sense. It is important to make sure you find your feet while embarking on life as a ‘proper adult’ ad 6 to 12 months back home can help with this.
Financial Samurai says
I wish my parents had a mansion in paradise with a separate entrance. I’d live there all year long! Haha
Pros — save money. That’s all.
Cons — kills your love life, you miss out on life, and you might just never leave.
Great post. My folks allowed me to live at home after graduating for several years for a couple of reasons: 1) in 1983, the unemployment rate was 10.8%, which is higher than recent years; 2) It took me a year to get a ‘real job’, which was a high-stress service job with poor pay and untraditional hours; 3) I was saving to buy a house.
Sydney, I am glad to see you write about how ‘scary’ the real world is, because that is how I felt then and sometimes still do. Not too many thoughts on that subject in PF blogs, so this was refreshing. Great advice, too, simple consideration for ones’ parents is also the same consideration that will keep one from being an awful roommate. And spouse!:-)
One thought on the value of education, and a recent re-evaluation of whether a college degree is ‘worth it’…The reported Unemployment Rate only tells part of the story. It is not 7.3% across all ages, skills, and education levels. The BLS chart below demonstrates quite clearly that the more education one has, the better the odds for getting and keeping a job. For instance, a 4-year degree makes the odds of being unemployed only half as great as someone with a high-school diploma. More details here… http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm
Dr. J says
I spent time at my parents’ house while I was transitioning between my undergraduate and graduate studies. I don’t recall there being any tension, but everyone knew that I was just “passing through.”
If for some reason any of my kids end up living with us after graduation, we’ll deal with it, but only on the understanding that looking for a job should also be a full-time job for those who need employment.
Great post. I graduated in 1983, when unemployment was 10.8%. Really discouraging, I drove a truck nights, then had a couple of “real life” entry-level service jobs that were meatgrinders. My folks were kind enough to allow me to live at home several years, to save money for a house. It made a huge positive difference in my life, financially and otherwise.
One thought for those who don’t like parents nagging; just don’t give them a reason to nag. Tell them where you are going, and when you will be back; if you see something that needs doing, just do it and don’t wait to be asked. Act like you would want your own kid to act. It is consideration for them, not some Orwellian oppression.
Lastly, Sydney, that is a really good point about the value of education. The question about whether college degrees are “worth it” also follows your “0% or 100%” model. But the unemployment statistics today, by education level, are indisputable. The more education one has, the better the odds for getting and keeping a good-paying job. You can see it here. [url]http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm[/url] Feel free to bookmark that link, and pass it along to any recent graduates or parents of high-schoolers.
I know someone who never left her parents house up until now and she’s 30. And her parents are totally fine with it. I guess it really depends on the kind of relationship you have with your parents, the lessons your parents want you to learn and the kind of person you want to be.
Both my children moved home for a short time after graduation to save their money for their apartment. They stayed a few month which was fine with us.
Mr. Utopia @ Personal Finance Utopia says
I’ve known several people who moved back in with their parents after college (and some that never left to begin with!). I didn’t take that path because my parents moved away a few months after I graduated. If it had been an option though I very likely would’ve taken it even though I did have a job already lined up.
I’m in complete agreement with “respecting elders” and chipping in whatever way you can while staying with your parents. At that point in time, it’s luxury or privilege and you should be thankful for it.