Renter's Rules

Living With Parents: How Long Is Too Long?


When it comes to students moving back home after graduation, some parents put out the welcome mat and others turn off the lights and pretend nobody's home. According to a new survey, the appropriate amount of time for an adult child to live at home varies. Parents of millennials (those ages 18-to-34) believe living at home for up to six years after graduation is acceptable, while parents ages 55 and up say three years at home is the max, says Coldwell Banker's latest survey.

More than 2 in 3 Americans (70 percent) believe that too many adults that are living at home with their parents and are avoiding responsibility, while 65 percent think those living with mom and dad are overstaying their welcome.

Robi Ludwig, who helped conduct the survey among more than 2,000 Americans, says the economy and job market are major factors in young adults moving back home, but adds that relationships between the generations have gotten stronger.

"There is a general acceptance of kids returning home, which isn't considered unusual or odd," Ludwig says. "People are more used to that trend. One of the things that would have kids not want to move back to their parents' home is being told what to do -- but if parents and kids are getting along better, that is not what is preventing them from moving back home."

But staying home for too long can also stunt adult progression, Ludwig warns by leading some people to regress and delay their development into independent adults. "You have kids graduating from college and feeling young in their heads. Then they are not able to get a job and move home, which would help to further their sense of adult identity. Everyone is taking longer to grow up."

But it's not just children who might suffer with the living situation. The survey finds more than half of Americans (57 percent) believe that when children move home post-college, it prevents parents from moving on with their lives.

"If parents are still in that parenting role financially, they may be spending money on family life -- extra money and retirement money," Ludwig says. "This also impacts them in terms of real estate, when kids move out of the house, this is when parents start to think about downsizing to purchase something more beneficial for their lifestyle, so that would be prolonged."

One way to make this work, is to have children save for a goal such as homeownership, Ludwig advises. Also, 92 percent of respondents say adult children at home should do their own chores and 82 percent say that these tenants should have to pay rent. Also, 65 percent say that adult children living with parents should move out as soon as they find a job.

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