Moving back home? Study reveals 4 tips for young adults living with mom & dad again

RALEIGH, N.C. — Sometimes in life, we have to take a step back in order to take two steps forward. For a young adult forced to move back home with mom and dad, that metaphor likely holds little comfort. Perhaps, then, researchers from North Carolina State University can provide some more concrete help. After interviewing 31 adults between the ages of 22 and 31 who had to move back home, their study reveals four tips to help ease the transition.

“People move back in with their parents for a lot of reasons, and the trend is increasing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic woes,” says study co-author Lynsey Romo, an associate professor of communication, in a university release.

“We launched this study before the pandemic happened because we wanted to learn more about how adults who move back in with their parents manage that process,” she adds. “How do they think about it? How do they talk about it? We think the findings are valuable because they provide some guidelines people can use to help ensure that ‘moving back home’ is a step forward instead of a step backward.”

The four recommendations are:

  • Set clear expectations: You may be moving back home to your childhood bedroom (in most cases), but that doesn’t mean you should be treated as a child. Talk to your parents right from the start and set some clear expectations for the rest of your stay. For example, are you going to be paying rent?
  • Contribute to the household: Taking care of some chores around the house like doing the dishes and the laundry can go a long way toward keeping everyone happy.
  • Set a timeline: The notion of you moving back home indefinitely probably isn’t all that joy-inducing for either you or your parents. Sit down with your parents and talk about how long you’re planning to stay. Also, it can also help to discuss other timelines such as financial and career goals.
  • Act like an adult: Don’t fall back into old habits just because you’re back in your old environment. Give and show your parents respect, and they’ll (hopefully) reciprocate.

“On one hand, study participants were certainly aware of the stigma associated with moving back in with one’s parents as an adult,” Romo comments. “However, it was equally clear that framing the decision to move back in with one’s parents as an investment in the future helped people think about the decision in a positive way and communicate about it in a positive way.”

“Moving back home is a reality for a lot of people right now,” she concludes. “Hopefully, this work will help them make the most of that circumstance and avoid any stigma associated with it.”

The study appears in the journal Emerging Adulthood.