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Still living at home: How long is too long?

A recent study looks at the growing trend of young people living at home after college and wonders: is 27 the new 18?

By Smart Spending Editor Aug 13, 2013 6:41PM
This post is by Amy Hoak of partner site MarketWatch.

MSN Money PartnerThe recession took a toll on young adults, and many of them turned to their parents for help. They moved back home, into their old bedrooms, until they felt financially secure enough to live on their own.

Image: Laundry (© Somos Images/Corbis/Corbis)After several years, some of them are still there.

Recent studies have quantified the trend. A Pew Research Center analysis found that the number of adults between the ages of 18 and 31 living at home rose to 36% in 2012 -- the highest percentage in four decades. Another report by the housing website Trulia found that household formation has been muted thanks partly to the reluctance of this generation to move out from under mom and dad’s roof.

But how long is too long to crash at mom and dad’s?

Five years after finishing college, according to a new survey from Coldwell Banker Real Estate, which polled more than 2,000 Americans on the topic.

That’s how long, on average, parents said it was OK for adult children to live at home.
And that’s how long millennials, those between the ages of 18 and 34, said was their limit to room with mom and dad.

Other parents won’t set a boundary on the time they’re willing to let their kids live with them: 24% of all parents polled think it’s fine for adult children to live at home as long as they want.

The reasons more kids are living at home longer are logical: “Some of these millennials are coming out and have huge college loans. And also the jobs being offered out there are very often temp jobs and part-time jobs,” said Robi Ludwig, a psychotherapist who worked with Coldwell Banker on the survey. These realities have helped remove the stigma that used to come with living with your parents as a young adult.

It’s almost like 27 is the new 18, Ludwig said.

At home longer than expected

That’s why Meredith Ingle didn’t give much thought to moving back home when she graduated. It was 2008, her graduating class had a 60% hire rate, and she was looking for work in her hometown area.

Still, she never envisioned living with her parents as long as she did.

Her plan was to pay off student loans and other debt, while saving for the future. In the beginning, her parents were excited to have her home. By the time she moved out nearly three years later, everyone was ready.

“Had I not been laid off and unemployed for a few months, then I would have been gone a bit sooner,” Ingle said.

The 30-year-old said she has at least five friends living at home still.

While extra time at home can enable young adults to get their financial footing before leaving the nest for good, the setup is not without potential consequences -- for the kids and their parents alike.

“There’s a point where it’s not healthy,” Ludwig said. The kids regress and postpone their journeys into the “real world,” while their parents may be dipping into their retirement money to help them.

As the economy gets stronger, stays at home are likely to be less common and will probably be of shorter duration, Ludwig said.

However, those of the millennial generation are known for having good relationships with their parents. That can make it harder to leave the nest -- even in a more favorable job market.
“Part of what can encourage millennials to move out of the house is the arguing. But millennials do look to their parents for advice. Getting along makes it much cushier,” Ludwig said.

For best results, set expectations
Families considering this arrangement -- or that already have an adult child living under the roof -- need to set expectations to ensure that the kids don’t stay for an unhealthy amount of time, Ludwig said.

“Underscore the expectation for your child to move forward and to use this time with purpose,” she said. “It’s a pause, but it is a purposeful pause.”

Seventy percent of Americans think that too many adults living at home with their parents are avoiding responsibility, while 65% say too many young adults who live at home after college are overstaying their welcome, according to the Coldwell Banker survey.

But 80% of Americans surveyed say it’s OK for an adult child to live at home if they’re saving money to buy their own home, 92% say they should help out with chores, and 82% said they should pay rent. Sixty-five percent said it’s time to move out once the young adult finds a job.
Having clear goals and ultimately moving out in a reasonable amount of time is important for the self-esteem and confidence of everyone involved.
“The person who is making strides in the real world feels better about themselves, and the parent takes pride in the child being able to succeed in the world,” Ludwig said.

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Sep 4, 2013 11:01AM
Umm people, you can not compare 40 or more years ago to today.  Of course, many of us were out of the house when we were were easier to find, the housing market wasn't through the roof, there was no credit card debt, people were getting married right out of high school and had a spouse to share the burden, most people did not go to college and therefore did not have huge debt to pay back, etc, etc, the math!  This economy is tough, and the government is going to make it harder and harder down the road.

I see many young people today working their behinds off to just make it and what is wrong with parents helping out, are we not all family??  I see many middle aged people having a ball..vacationing, going to parties, involved with activities...what is the matter?? It might kill you to help out your own flesh and produced these kids.  I got news for everyone, families having to live together for a long time and sharing expenses may be the road of the future, so you better map out an extra bedroom or two.

Sep 4, 2013 11:31AM
Funny. The one's complaining about that generation are the very same ones that raised them.  You reap what you sow.
Sep 4, 2013 9:50AM


If your adult kids don't want to leave, just stroll around naked. Takes about 2-3 trips and *poof*, the door won't hit them in the butt.


Works for me.

Sep 4, 2013 11:18AM
But for most of recorded history, multi-generational families have been the norm.  It's only in recent Western society that this mindset changed.
Aug 17, 2013 9:17PM
Of course you also have the adults that are living off of the Senior Adult... I know of one who is 54 and still sucking off his father. Totally lazy, without drive or any concern for the financial burden he is placing on his father or the rest of us who are trying to help Dad.
Sep 4, 2013 11:46AM

Shame on those of you who believe that ALL Millennials are lazy and just using their parents for housing and food. I am a millennial, and I am busting my a$$ to be able to create a good, successful life for myself. It is not easy, and my mother has welcomed me with open arms to stay with her until I can find a good job when I graduate from college. Will I stay with her forever? NO! It is just the best option I have for now, and she appreciates me being at home with her because I actually do chores and all that jazz. I shouldn't have read all the comments about how we are all lazy people that don't want to get jobs and such. I have worked just about every damn day since I was 16 years old. I have helped support my family's living expenses since I was 16. I deserve to hang out with my mom... you know why... She loves me unconditionally. Get off my a$$ you opinionated bastards... go worry about something else that doesn't involve judging true families and how they live just to get by. Now, I have to go to class and learn something... because I am a successful Millennial.

Sep 4, 2013 12:10PM
Wait a minute...she has five other friends in the same situation?  They all need to get those part-time temp jobs, move in together, be roommates and split up the cost of living!  That's how we did it back in the 90's.  Why don't people get roomies anymore?  I dug my "commune."  Thankfully, I wasn’t  broke from college debt (I went in "spurts" and paid-as-I-went) or an addiction to cutting-edge gadgetry.  Back in 1995, my only “gadgetry” was a Smith-Corona typewriter, a land-line telephone, a beat up Walkman and a black and white 12″ Zenith that required pliers to change the channels so we could watch “Beavis and Butthead” (free cable, courtesy of the apartment complex.)  And that's another thing - we Gen X'ers were probably the last generation to "hate" our parents.  Don't misunderstand me - we love them, but back then we couldn't stand to be around them for longer than two seconds after we turned 18 and that was considered healthy & normal, no matter who you were or what your circumstances were.  Ah, parents and their little "buddies" these days...  Well, on to more important things like Syria and who's been leaving lipstick on the milk carton?
Sep 4, 2013 11:29AM
Sorry zero sympathy. I'm an X-er so the gen before millenials. I moved out of my parents house when I was 17, put myself through college by going the community college route, waiting tables, then transferred up for a 4 year degree. I've just paid back all my student loans too. Yeah I've had rough patches as I've been through more than one economic downturn since graduating college in 2000 and have had to work in under employed capacity, but I always dig my way out and have NEVER gone back to live with mom and dad or have taken financial help from them. If you're doing that, you have a crappy work ethic.
Sep 4, 2013 11:38AM
Families living together or near each other and all contributing was sociologically the way things were. Children moving far away is more recent in society. Yes, there are some people who are lazy and will mooch off of anyone, but some families may simply choose to live a different lifestyle than what is considered the norm of today.

It's easy to pass judgement, but take the harder road and think about a different perspective.
Sep 4, 2013 11:08AM
Nothing wrong with it for a while. The cost of living has gone up and wages have not. You need to pay some rent at home and do chores , leave when you are ready.. Not everyone can be an engineer or get a good paying job right away or join the service.   BTW, most landlords are scum! 

Sep 4, 2013 3:29PM
so i was just wondering... what is so wrong with multigenerational familial living??? i think it is a fabulous idea . what with the dismal economy and sparse job market ,not to mention the fact that our society is forgetting its social graces all together as a whole...2, 3 or even 4 generations living and working together for the common financial and familial good seems like just the ticket in todays hard times...of coarse that would mean we would have to teach our children things like common sense and unselfishness and thrift and responsibility again... can anyone still remember when you listened to and respected your elders and took responsibility for your own mistakes and lived within your means and everyone watched out for the babies and one another? well that is a whole  new discussion altogether.
Aug 14, 2013 5:00PM

Millenials should get jobs.... any jobs... and work hard to save money for college.  Then once in college they should take "real" majors such as Mechanical and Electrical Engineering -- not these "Mickey Mouse" majors like Sociology and others of the "Underwater Basket weaving" class.....


Most Millenials do not have the background for "real" majors because when the "going got tough" for them in the past, they ran to "Mummy and Daddy" for comfort and security.  Any discomfort or stress caused by difficult classes and a large workload was handled by dropping the tough classes and taking classes necessary to achieve easy A's.  Now these people are grown and acting in the very same way that was acceptable to "Mummy and Daddy" in the past.  Bottom line -- the vast majority of Millenials are "soft" and have been "coddled" their entire lives.

Can the Millenials ever "turn it around"?  YES but it will require tough decisions, taking responsibility for past mistakes and then rapid deployment of a "recovery plan".  Parents -- kick these grown "kids" out of your houses and then they will be forced to take action!

Sep 4, 2013 2:17PM
In the "old days", brothers, sisters, grandma, grandpa, aunts and uncles, all, used to live under the same roof.  With the advent of SS, via economics, people separated.  I still don't see any reason why entire families should not  live under the same roof today. 
Sep 4, 2013 1:18PM
The opposite is also true - I have some young engineers working for me - who to an outsider would look like they are living at home. Actually, they own the house (in their 20s) and Mom lives with them. Things are not always what they appear.
Sep 4, 2013 12:19PM
I joined the military 3 months after I graduated high school at 18 years old & never looked back, never moved back home. It made me stand on my own 2 feet, cut the apron strings, & have a successful career while earning my college degree. My wife left home even earlier, at 17 years old, worked as many jobs as she had to in order to put herself through college, and also never moved back home. Today we both have professional careers that were earned through hard work, not hand outs. Too many people today just want things given to them, & are not willing to work hard to achieve their goals.
Sep 4, 2013 10:52AM
Living with parents is not really living. 27 is still the old 27. And "the old" 30 is just three years out.
Sep 4, 2013 5:49PM

As long as my kid was putting out effort to go full time to school, or had a full time job (no matter if it paid peanuts) I would help them out by letting them stay with the folks until there was a time they could comfortably pay for their own place.  Also, I would not let my kid go without health insurance.


Times ain't what they used to be... even with an education, jobs are limited.  Help the ones you love as long as you can, if you can.  Life throws us enough hard knocks. 

Sep 4, 2013 11:46AM
Want to know why we're living at home? WE ARE BROKE. We're suffering now from what the past generation did to make money.
My brother lived with my mom for say most of his life.  He finally left home on his own when he was 62.  I guess social security was the move out time for him.  Mom got really bad and died 2 years later but he was actually living off of her for a very long time.  Why pay for yourself when y ou can live off of someone else.  Very bad on his part.  I am almost 4 years younger than he is but when I left at 18 I never came back for more than a couple of days.  Now he isn't doing so well trying to live on his SS.
Sep 4, 2013 3:32PM

what if a parent gets cancer and needs there son or daughter to live with them forever, make room for your mother, she's your ****ing mom you selfish ****, my mom is sick so I will live with her and help her around the house forever, if my wife or girlfriend don't like it, they can kiss my white ****,  im still single because I want to be, but if I do get married mom stays as long as she is sick


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