A record number of young adults are living at home with their parents, thanks in large part to the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic that has taken the world by storm.
In April, there was a total of 32 million Americans who were living with a parent or grandparent, according to a recent analysis of U.S. Census data by Zillow. That’s a 9.7 percent increase from the year before.
About 2.7 million adults moved back home in March and April, causing the jump. The majority of those returning to their childhood homes were members of Generation Z, those aged 18-25, totaling 2.2 million. Generation Z have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 related layoffs, forcing them to retreat back to the safety of their parents’ nest.
But the trend of young adults, including many Millennials, living with their parents has been accelerating for years. According to a U.S. Census Bureau report released in 2012, the number of adult children living with parents stood at 15.8 million in 2010.
A Cultural Shift
Moving back to your parents’ home longer carries much of a social stigma. Young adults were supposed to fly the coop after high school, go to college and then have their stuff together—or at least scrape by with a little help from their parents. But the situation has changed; living with parents has become more acceptable, in large part because of the still-recovering economy.
“There’s been a big cultural shift,” said Susan Newman, a social psychologist who authored the book “Under One Roof Again: All Grown Up and (Re)learning to Live Together Happily.” “Not since the Great Depression have we seen so many young adults moving back home.”
She attributes this to a scarcity of well-paying jobs for college graduates. Also, many young adults move back home because they’ve lost a job, want to stash cash to buy a house or are going through a divorce. Not to mention many are straddled with student loans.
Now the coronavirus pandemic has thrown even more economic wrenches into the works. To assist those forced to leave their own home and make living arrangements with their parental units once again, the following tips will help you keep your sanity.
1. Hold a Meeting With Your Parents
Discuss hours for visitors, privacy, financial expectations and so on with your parents before moving back in with them.
“It makes it as harmonious as possible for both parties to come to an agreement,” says Christina Steinorth, a licensed psychotherapist and author of “Cue Cards for Life: Thoughtful Tips for Better Relationships. “Everything is negotiable.”
2. Be Considerate
Remember: Once a parent, always a parent. Steinorth recommends calling your parents if you’re going to be late for dinner or to let them know you won’t be home at all.
“My parents knew I was grown up. They weren’t going to tell me that I had a curfew, but they are worriers, so they wanted to know where I was going,” said Samantha Meador, 31, who moved back home to Odessa, TX, in 2006.
A little mutual respect goes a long way!
3. Don’t Be a Slob
Taking on household chores instills confidence in your parents that you’re not a kid anymore, Steinorth said.
Meador was mindful of not taking advantage of her parents. “I did my own chores and my own laundry. I house-sat when they were out of town,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting them to do anything for me.”
4. Don’t Waste Time
If you’re hunting for a job, don’t spend all day on the couch watching game shows. It’ll only annoy and frustrate your parents, Newman said. Spending your time looking for work or even holding down a part-time job shows that you’re not a freeloading slacker.
Plus you need to start saving to eventually move out again, right?
5. Pay at Least Part of the Expenses
Paying a portion of the rent, or even just the cable TV or electric bill, will show your parents that you’re aware of your responsibilities. Offering to take care of grocery shopping is another way you can contribute, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Chris Wood, a 24-year-old student who recently moved out of his parents’ house in Lewisville, TX, lived with his mom and dad for five years without paying rent. But he helped out financially by becoming his mother’s business partner.
Wood took care of dogs for his mom’s dog-breeding business and attended dog shows two weekends each month. Last year, he joined his mother at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. “That was a big accomplishment,” he said, “and we had a lot of fun together.”
6. Carve Out Time for Your Parents
Simple things like having dinner with your parents alleviate tension, so it doesn’t feel like you’re on the spot every time you talk with them. “I think a lot of time people think, ‘Mom and Dad are just trying to pry into my life,’” Steinorth said. “They just really want to be in the loop.”
After Wood moved back home, the relationship with his parents matured. “I went from being their kid to their roommate,” he said.
7. Live With Less
Avoid trashing your parents’ space by leaving your stuff scattered around, Newman said. Moving back home means you’re going to have to share your parents’ space. In some cases, that means sharing the same bathroom, kitchen and living room. Being inconsiderate about shared space will ruffle your parents’ feathers, she said.
One way to address limited space is to consider putting items you won’t be using into self-storage.
The only piece of furniture Meador brought home was her bed. She stored must-have belongings in unused areas of her parents’ house, and she downsized by donating or selling things she didn’t need.
8. Maintain Boundaries
Be aware of slipping back into old parent-child relationship roles, Steinorth said.
Set aside 30 to 60 minutes of “me” time each day where you can enjoy your personal space away from Mom or Dad. Living together again can be great, but it isn’t hard to get under each other’s skin either.
Steinorth said that if a parent raises his or her voice to an adult child who’s living at home, the child should say something like this: “When you do that, I feel as if I’m 15 years old again” or “When you say that, you make me feel as if you are judging me.”