Boomerang Kids: When Should They Move Out For Good?

Lifestyles Boomerang Generation
Greg M. Cooper/AP
There's a generation gap in opinions about how long adults should live with their parents post-college.

A new survey by Coldwell Banker Real Estate and psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig, a consultant for the company, shows that Americans ages 55 and older think it's acceptable for adults to live with their parents after college for as long as three years. Adults ages 18 to 34 think living at home for as long as five years is acceptable. And nearly 1 in 7 Americans (13 percent) believe adults should never live at home with their parents.

According to a Pew Research Center report, in 2012, 36 percent of young adults (ages 18 to 31) were living in their parents' home -- the highest percentage in at least four decades.

While many of the adults returning home have been affected by the recession, the Coldwell Banker survey shows that the majority (82 percent) of Americans think adult children who live at home should pay rent.

Moocher or Savvy Saver?

Ludwig says there are two extremes when it comes to boomerang kids: those who regress and fail to develop independent living skills and those who are living at home with a purpose, such as saving money to buy a home.

According to the Coldwell survey, 4 out of 5 Americans say it's OK for adult children to live at home if they're saving money to buy a home, but 70 percent say they think too many adult children living with their parents are avoiding responsibility.

"Young people today sometimes need a safety net that moving back in with parents can provide," says Ellen Miley Perry, a wealth management adviser with Wealthbridge Partners in Washington, D.C., and author of "A Wealth of Possibilities: Navigating Family, Money, and Legacy." "It can be a very helpful and important time for the young people and for their parents, and it can also be a difficult and challenging time."

Tips for Boomerang Kids and Their Parents

Perry says parents and their kids need to discuss their expectations -- for both sides -- before the decision is made to move back home.

"Talk about things like who is responsible for what chores around the house, access to cars, late nights/no-shows, overnight guests," she says. "All those things are a reality when the child is now an adult. Parents should feel entitled to negotiate what works for them during this time. You aren't running a bed-and-breakfast, so be clear about what you need."

All personal responsibilities like laundry, cleaning their room, and cleaning up after themselves must be done by the young person, says Perry. She recommends asking boomerang kids to help the family while they are home, with things like grocery shopping, cooking, and yard work.

The financial implications of moving back home are crucial for the parents and the adult child. Perry says if the boomerang kids have income and can pay rent and contribute to food costs, they should.

Ludwig recommends setting a target end date. The survey shows that 65 percent of Americans think adult children should move out as soon as they have a job.

"Be clear if you're the parent about how long this will work for you," says Perry. "What's the time horizon? Three months? Six months? A year? Or until your kid finds a job?"

Each family has to negotiate an arrangement for adults moving back home and their parents. If the kids are using the time to save money for a house, the parents may want to skip having them pay rent in order to allow their savings to build more quickly.

The key to making this arrangement go smoothly is for both generations to be open about their financial and personal expectations.

Michele Lerner is a Motley Fool contributing writer.

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December 02 2013 at 1:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Warren D - You make it sound like the boomerang kids are the problem. And frankly, it is unfair to expect these young adults to go to University (which now costs upwards of $50,000 for a BA), find a job (in an unbelievably tight market), and pay back their loans that society has dictated that they have at 21 and 22 years of age. If the parents have the money to assist their adult child, they should do so. Because you know what? In 30 years time, a lot of these parents will be needing help from their children, and you can't expect the children to house their grown parents when the parents didn't help the grown children. A lot of people use the argument that the parents supported the children for 18 years - well, the parents chose to be parents. Those 18 years were chosen - if you want your children to respect you as an aging person, respect your children as growing adults.

November 01 2013 at 6:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why are we the only developed country that puts a stigma with adult kids living with parents? Other developed countries have kids/families live together for a long time and nobody thinks twice about it.

September 01 2013 at 5:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Warren D

My take on "Boomerang Kids" is...If you keep holding them up, they'll never learn to stand on their own! Yeah times are tough - I get that - but life is damn hard, and at some point you, as a parent - or parents - have to make them face it head on. Why should my wife and I give up the freedoms we've earned because our kid can't hack it in the real world? If I want to piddle around butt naked in my house on a lazy Sat morning - or whenever - thats what I want to do! Too many adults under one roof , never works - the "adult child" will resent your rules, and expectations just as they did as know-it-all teens. Then the friction tears the house - and your marriage - apart. Struggle is a good thing - let them flounder...They'll swim eventually, and thank you for it. But you can't keep rescueing grown folks!!

September 01 2013 at 3:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Multigenerational households weren't crticized in the past. If the boomerang kid is a leech and contributes nothing to the family and only takes and uses, then he or she should be booted out quick as a flash.

My youngest moved back in after 5 years in the Navy to attend college. He pays his own bills and any additional expense his being here causes. He does his own laundry, buys and cooks his own food, keeps his rooms and the house clean and does the yardwork. His 2 rooms are on the other side of the house, so I don't hear his guests and most of the time we only see each other in passing.

My niece moved back in with her parents after completely her Bachelor degree at an away school, worked full time as a teacher and went to a local college to get her master's and PHD and was promoted to principal prior to marrying her college boyfriend a year and 1/2 ago. She was never a burden on her parents. Her and her husband were able to put a big downpayment on a home and just had their first child.

My neighbors' daughter moved back into her parents with her 2 children by her deadbeat ex-husband until she remarried. She never used her parents and her and the grandkids were a joy to her parents. They were sad when she moved on.

Articles like this are BS for many families with boomerang kids. It acts like parents should just be itching to push their boomeranger out the door. Many of us enjoy our grown children. We don't have to set timetables for leaving or make up a bunch of rules because we raised our kids to be responsible adults who wouldn't even think of taking advantage of us. They're welcome to stay as long as they want. Articles like this try to stigmatize boomerangers. Most are not leeches and are welcome in the family home.

September 01 2013 at 12:27 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Some people are just out for themselves. If you don't want to have your kids living with you after they turn 18,don't have kids in the first place. These people who want to kick them out are the same people that will expect to move back in with their kids when they are elderly. What goes around, comes around! Put yourself in your kids shoes. If they are not earning enough to move out, it won't kill you to let them live with you while they are paying off student loans or saving money for a down payment on a house. I am assuming they have a job and are respectful of your home. If not you have more problems than your kid living with you.

August 31 2013 at 10:51 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Within 6 months of their 18th birthdays or high school graduation, which ever comes later. Your parents need a break, ladies and gentlemen. Everyone says today's times are too hard for that, but minimum wage was $2.30 back in 1979 and inflation was running 15% or more and plenty of my fellow grads did just that.

August 31 2013 at 9:59 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ezspin42's comment

I enlisted in the military in 1963, 4 days after graduating from high school. After my 4 years were up I lived with my parents about 2 months until I found a job. I never looked back.

August 31 2013 at 11:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"The kids should move as soon as they think they know everything!"

Oh good... Throw them out when they turn 13. Good way to get yourself in trouble. lol

August 31 2013 at 8:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The kids should move as soon as they think they know everything!

August 31 2013 at 7:59 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to royjoneswolf62's comment

Hell, that is before they graduate, lol.

August 31 2013 at 11:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Here's the thing.... in current times, I'd have been labeled a Boomerang Kid... but looks can be misleading.... I was working the type of job that makes large lumps of cash in a short time span, with gaps in between. My parents were older and on SS while I was still in college. My income contributed to keeping a roof over all our heads... and as time passed, my eyes became their eyes.... but what was going on within our family was nobody's business. I had friends accuse me of sponging off them... of my folks and I being co-dependent (and not meant in the way it really was) We were co-dependent... the fact that my work was intermittent but good paying, allowed me time to be a caregiver in the way they needed, which was not always obvious to the outside world. So before you judge people and call them Boomerang Kids... they may very well be on their way to being their parents caregivers.

August 31 2013 at 7:34 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to legacykwst's comment

It's wonderful that you and your parents have a loving and caring relationship. Those who call for parents to kick their kids to the curb once they're adults are the same ones who are quick to stick their aging parents in a nursing home. They don't know what being a family means. They should reserve the term boomeranger for those returnees who are permanent leeches instead of acting like every adult child who still lives with their parents isn't a wanted and contributing member of the household.

September 01 2013 at 12:44 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply