Cultural observers call them the “Boomerang” generation — the legions of college graduates who, sheepskin in hand, won’t be moving into their own pads after graduation.
Instead, they’ll be moving back home with Mom and Dad to save money. Actually, ‘saving money” isn’t an accurate term – it makes it sound like Boomerang kids have a say in the matter; like moving back home to save cash is a luxury and not a necessity.
Nope – it’s a necessity, all right – especially as the job market for college graduates dries up like a rain puddle on a hot driveway.
“It’s a staggering number,” says David Morrison, president of TwentySomething Inc., a Philadelphia-based young adult marketing consultancy. He tells CBS News as many as 65% of college graduates are showing up on their parents’ doorsteps looking for room and board.
Morrison told the news network that it wasn’t so long ago that any college grad caught living in Mom’s basement was given the “loser” label. Heavy-handed, true, but that was the culture even as short as 10 years ago.
But that stigma is long gone, he adds. “As alien as it may appear, (moving back home) is a very rational response to the economic and social climate that we’re living in,” says Morrison.
In fact, according to a study from the Pew Foundation, in 2008 an estimated 49 million Americans, or 16% of the total U.S. population, lived in a family household that contained at least two adult generations. That figure is up about 33% since 1980.
So, if you do find yourself packing your suitcase and heading for your childhood address, what’s your best move? And if you’re a parent ‘welcoming’ junior home after four years of household bliss, what steps can you take to make the new arrangement work?
Credit Sesame is on the job – with these five tips to make a Boomerang arrangement work – or at least work enough so you’re not at each other’s throats:
- Set rules — and reasonable expectations. Parents should shake off the parenting rust and lay down some ground rules for the new living arrangement. Up first are time considerations – after all, “time” is a commodity, too, so you might as well work out curfews and timetables for chores. Aim for five hours a week where the son or daughter devotes to household tasks, like laundry or mowing the lawn (keeping their rooms clean shouldn’t be included in that five hours). Down the road, you’ll be glad you cleared the air on time responsibilities.
- Talk money. The second conversation should be about rent and money contributed to groceries and utilities. The best move is to treat the arrangement as a landlord-tenant deal. Sure, the parent may not charge rent at all (we think you should – it breeds responsibility). But no matter what dollar figure you settle on, get it on paper with signatures attached. One more thing: consider charging the ‘going rate” for a room-and-board deal. Check your local paper or online real estate listings and see what people in your community are paying in the ‘rooms for rent’ section.
- Be reasonable – and flexible. If the college graduate isn’t gainfully employed, beef up on the household chores (they’ll have more time to do them) and back off on the rent. It’s a balancing act – the parent obviously wants their son or daughter to make their job hunt a full-time, forty-hour-a-week gig. But the child should bring something to the table, and if it’s not cash, it might as well be the sweat of their brow. A bonus: if the parent works their kids hard enough chore-wise, they’ll have plenty of incentive to find a job and get out of the house.
- Establish “quiet hours.” Both parties in a Boomerang situation likely keep different hours. But with room and board comes respect for those hours. Agree beforehand that certain times are off limits for loud music, blaring televisions, and late night guests. Before 7 a.m. is a good place to start for parents. After 10 p.m. is a good place to start for the younger generation.
- Get a contract. As we stated above, putting any agreement you make about your new living arrangements down on paper – and not just financial agreements. Curfew, guests, alcohol consumption, and rent – it’s all on the table and should be dealt with, just like any landlord-tenant agreement. You can find a good sample rental agreement right here.
Boomerang living arrangements needn’t be anxiety-inducing experiences. A little proper planning, a good contract, and tons of respect between all parties involved can go a long way in making that “failure to launch” situation work better than both parties may think.