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5 things to talk about when adult kids move in with parents

What topics are tricky when adult children move back in with their parents? Start with these 5 to set up a successful co-living arrangement.

In recent years, the number of 18- to 34-year-old young adults living with parents has hovered around one in three — a trend driven by young people who struggle to find well-paying jobs, delay marriage and even just enjoy additional time with their parents. That co-living arrangement may offer benefits for both sides of the equation economically, emotionally, physically and more, but it may also cause tension when it comes to sharing space, responsibilities and logistics.

Follow these tips to set household rules for adults — grown children as well as parents — and share living quarters.





Must-talk topics How to live with your adult children How to live with your parents
Money This is probably the most complicated piece of the parent/adult child co-living discussion, and it may be influenced by circumstances. If your adult child lost a job and is in a tight financial situation, charging them rent may not be reasonable. However, if your child has a source of support, you may want to charge them rent and a portion of utilities. (The specifics can and should be highly individualized, but they can be based on space or number of people in the house, for example.) It may feel strange, but it’s a way to help them maintain a budget that includes living expenses. It’s important to understand that, yes, you are your parents’ child, but you’re also an adult — eating, sleeping and enjoying utilities in their house. Discuss contributions you can and can’t make, particularly if a job loss led you back to your parents’ home. If you are employed and living with them to meet financial goals, consider how you can contribute to necessities such as groceries and utilities.
Chores Your list of home to-dos may not be familiar to your adult children. Discuss what needs to be done and figure out a way to divide and conquer duties within reasonable time frames. Take charge of some regular tasks such as mowing the lawn, vacuuming or taking out the trash. Remember: You’re living with parents to help them, too.
Privacy Adult children are just that — adults — and they have different privacy expectations than when they were minors and lived at home. That being said, your expectations about habits such as smoking and drinking are necessary topics of conversation. If your adult children move back in with kids of their own, discuss the limitations they have in place when it comes to food, screens, discipline and more. If your parents have house rules — such as prohibitions on alcohol or tobacco — it’s important to convey respect and discuss them in a mature, respectful way. In addition, if you move back in with your own children, establish your own expectations regarding what’s OK (and what’s not) with their time, too.
Schedule Remember the family calendar you used to track activities and appointments? You may want to institute a grown-up version of that to include the basics (shower and work schedule, for example) and what events or gatherings you have planned. A healthy adult child/parent relationship means treating your parents as you would any other grown-up. Share your plans as much as you need to, and keep a regular schedule that’s respectful of the routine they followed while you weren’t living there.
Timeline Unless your adult child has a milestone, such as saving for a house, setting a deadline for them to move out may be unreasonable. However, it’s OK to check in every few months, discuss what’s going well and mark any progress toward job hunting, for example. Challenging financial circumstances, including losing a job and moving into your parents’ house, can make agreeing on dates and times for your move-out difficult. However, you can help assure them you’re making progress by setting your own timeline for interviews, training and more. If you’ve moved back in to accomplish a savings goal, update them regularly on progress related to that, too.

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