You’ve got big dreams of independent city living and the basic adulting things like financial solvency. But you’re also facing mounting student debt, a rising cost of living and a job market that, while picking up, isn’t exactly making it rain in your bank account.
How can you make your dreams a reality?
A solution many millennials are turning toward: moving back in with the folks. This choice has gotten so popular that today, millennials living with their parents is the most common living arrangement for the first time in modern history, according to a recent study by Pew Research Center.
The financial advantages are clear: In a year you’ll save thousands of dollars in housing costs. But the social disadvantages are also apparent: Will you forfeit your independence? Will you revert to unhealthy parent-child dynamics? Will you lose your mind?
With these clutch survival tips, you should be all right.
1. Discuss expectations upfront
Your best bet for a productive talk about expectations and boundaries: draft a lease. This forces both parties to think through different scenarios and initiate difficult conversations upfront.
What are the house rules? Are there certain parts of the house off limits? How can you respect each other’s privacy? Can you invite friends over for a party? Can dates spend the night? Yes, you are an adult who typically makes these decisions on your own, but you’re living with your parents now and it’s better to discuss boundaries and limits up front so no one is surprised.
2. Talk about money
You are saving a boatload by moving in with mom and dad – hooray! But your presence adds a drag to their finances – boo. Don’t be the adult kid who takes and takes. Ask them what they need. Even if they say, “Nothing, dear,” commit to chipping in, whether that means paying a portion of the utility bill, buying groceries regularly, filling up the gas tank when you use the car, or paying some rent.
3. Be a good roommate
Maybe your parents cooked your meals and did your laundry when you were a teenager, but as an adult, you need to take responsibility. Clean up after yourself and establish a regular chore routine. Respect their property – if you break something, replace it.
4. Break out of old child-parent roles
If you find yourself falling in to old patterns, think of yourself as a houseguest and your parents as your hosts. When you are a guest at someone’s house, you are more likely to disagree in a cordial manner as opposed to resorting to pouts and cries of, “You are so unfair!” Yes, these are your parents, so they’re likely to push your buttons with their persistent questions. Why don’t you find a real job? Who are you dating? Shouldn’t you be thinking of marriage? Take a deep breath, thank them for their concern and remove yourself from the situation. And of course, if you can’t break out of these roles, you may want to find a different living arrangement.
5. Don’t get too comfortable
Of course, in some families, the parents are all too eager to have their little one back in the nest. And it might actually feel nice to slip into old habits of having your meals cooked, your room cleaned up and your laundry always fresh and folded on your bed. Stop right there. Don’t allow them to do this. You need to assert yourself as a responsible adult capable of handling basic self-care yourself. Step up and get the work done before they get a chance to do it. If you get too comfortable you may never leave. Which brings us to our next tip.
6. Have an exit strategy
Think of this time in your life as simply a rest stop on your journey toward independence. You are here to save money, focus on your goals and enact a realistic plan towards independence. With that in mind, get moving. Apply for jobs. Look for affordable housing options so you have a place to transition when your time with the folks is up. Make a long term plan. Identify small, manageable steps you need to take to reach your goals. And most importantly, set a deadline.
7. Make money now
Your dream job will take time to land, so in the meantime, get a job that allows you to work toward your bigger goals while making money and developing skills. At the very least, you will be filling a gap in your resume and making enough money to cover your basic expenses and perhaps even save. Money made and saved now will provide the cushion you need to launch your independent life.
8. Spend time with your parents
Remember that this moment in life will not last forever. Cherish your time with your parents. Learn those family recipes you’ve always loved. Ask your parents about their childhood and about their young adult years before you came around. Spend quality time doing things that you all love, whether that means playing board games, watching movies or relaxing over a delicious meal. Show them your gratitude and carve out regular moments for quality time.
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