Your College Grad is Moving Back Home, Now What?

Parents Beware: More and more kids are moving back home after graduating from college.

While some are still job hunting, others have landed positions but just aren’t ready yet to fly the coop. Millennials blame school loan debt,  sky-high rents and slow wage growth for their decision to live with mom and dad again.

Millennials are the generation most likely to live at homeProfessional organizer Lisa Zaslow of New York City-based Gotham Organizers calls it the “empty-nester nightmare.” Parents may have already converted their kid’s childhood bedroom into an office, guestroom or workout room — or have plans for a conversion. Meanwhile, some are ready to downsize.

But don’t forget, it’s probably also stressful for the post-grads as they pack up after over four years of “freedom” and move back to their childhood bedroom (or family basement) and back under their parents’ roof and rules.

“It’s not any recent college graduate’s dream to go back home,” Zaslow said.

What do you do with all of the extra stuff when they move back? How long will they be there? Should these young adults pay rent and what about daily chores? Living together again can be challenging. Here are seven tips to make it a smoother transition.

For Graduates:

1. Purge Unnecessary Stuff Before Heading Home.

You probably don’t need that dorm décor or frayed towels. Toss them. If you’re moving back to your old bedroom, you don’t want clutter.

“Anything that’s just rickety and in bad shape get rid of,” Zaslow said. “Basically anything you could replace for $50 or less.”

Sort through clothes and throw out stained T-shirts. And how many college-logoed T-shirts, sweatshirts and pairs of sweats do you need post-college? You’ll need a very different wardrobe for job hunting.

Remember to sell your textbooks that you no longer need.

2. Sell or Give Away Bigger-Ticket Items That You Don’t Want.

When it comes to furniture—the bed, bed frame, dresser, min-fridge and couch—if you aren’t attached to them, sell them or give them away to underclassmen, said Wendy Ellin, a productivity consultant in Atlanta. They’re probably not in the best shape anyway after four years of wear and tear.

The same is true for relatively inexpensive items—rugs, mirrors, fans and lamps—give or sell them to incoming students. Some colleges have separate dumpsters so these items can be salvaged and donated or donate them to Goodwill.

This beats “schlepping it across the country,” Ellin said. And to parents, she advised: “If you’re in a position that whatever you paid for the bed and dresser and nightstand isn’t going to make a difference in your life, wouldn’t you rather have less stress around what you have to deal with once they get back home?”

3. Pack Up Furniture, Items You Do Want, But Consider Storage.

If there are pieces of furniture, a TV, speakers, air-conditioner—and perhaps, a microwave and coffee maker—that you want to keep for a future apartment or house, pack them up and rent a truck or trailer to transfer them home safely. But remember you’ll need to find a place to store everything. For many families, extra storage space is at a premium so renting a self storage unit is a good option.

“Oftentimes, the storage unit is the thing that makes the most sense, especially if people don’t have a garage, basement or extra space,” said Geralin Thomas, professional organizer and owner of Metropolitan Organizing in Carey, NC. Thomas suggests that the post-grad should pay for the unit.

And make sure you have a timeframe.

“If you’re determined that ‘I’m not living with mom and dad for more than six months, hell or high water, even if I need to sublet a basement apartment,’ do the math,” Zaslow said. “How much is self storage going to cost and how much is the stuff that you’re storing worth? But if you’re going to furnish an apartment and need that kitchen table and chairs [from college], it may make sense.”

Let your parents know that you’ve set goals regarding the length of your stay. Is the move back home temporary until you find a job or is it for a year or longer?

For Parents:

1. If Your Young Adult Stores Belongings at Your Home, Have a Plan.

“This is a theme I hear over and over from parents, their kids don’t want to go through their yearbooks, T-shirts, football memorabilia and all that,” Thomas said. “They want the parent to hold onto it, so 10 years goes by and the parents want to downsize or they just want that stuff out of their attic. Have a plan for that stuff.”

2. Discuss House “Rules”.

While your post-grad isn’t a child, you have house rules that they need to follow. For example, you may not appreciate them rolling in at 3 a.m. Remember it’s your house.

3. Discuss Rent.

“Charging rent is a personal thing,” Ellin said. “I do it because I want to teach my kids the value of a dollar. Whatever they’re going to give me in rent wouldn’t make a difference in my life, but they need to know that at some point they’ll have to pay rent.”

If you don’t really need the money, you can always put aside for them as a surprise gift for them when they do move out. They could also help with cable or utility bills.

4. Discuss Daily Chores

“This isn’t a hotel,” Ellin said, adding that post-grads need to contribute to family chores.

“They should pick a night and cook dinner for the family and clean up,” Thomas suggested. “If they’re going to be an adult living in the home, they have to be treated like an adult and have adult responsibilities.”

Ellin added:  “If you make it easy for your kid, your kid is not going to leave.”

And you’re never going to get that yoga room you’ve always wanted.

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