Economic Woes Expected to Trigger Stampede of New Grads Moving Home After Graduation

By Christina Newberry

For families with adult children graduating college this spring, now is the time to start talking about what life will be like after graduation. The class of 2009 will be entering the job market at a time when unemployment is skyrocketing and the economy is in the tank. For many new grads, the only option will be to move back in with Mom and Dad. That means there will be a lot of adult children moving home.

The painful truth is, this year’s new grads may be facing a harsh reality check. They’ve always been told that the baby boomers would be starting to retire just as they began looking for work, meaning easy jobs and a straight path to prosperity. But the loss of retirement savings means many boomers will be holding on to their jobs for years to come.

MonsterTRAK, a division of the job-search web site, reported in their 2009 annual survey (released in April 2009) that only 54% of companies plan to hire new college graduates. Just two years ago, in 2007, that number was 76%. On top of that, 71% of companies say they plan to hire fewer people this year than they have in the past.

Even if your college senior hasn’t mentioned feeling concerned about finding a job, chances are they’re feeling the fear. MonsterTRAK’s survey showed that a full 92% of 2008 graduates believe it will take them longer to find a job. Only 33% of future graduates admit they’re worried about being able to find a job, but that’s almost three times more students showing concern than in last year’s study (when 13% admitted job-search anxiety).

The default option for new college grads struggling to find a foothold in the battered job market is to move back in – for cheap or for free – with Mom and Dad. In the 2007 MonsterTRAK survey, 22% of new grads said they planned to move home for more than six months. But the truth showed the numbers were much higher – US census data shows that 65% of new grads return home. According to MonsterTRAK 43% of 2007 grads had yet to leave home a year almost after graduation, and 40% percent of 2008 grads are still living at home now.

If you think (or know) that come graduation time adult children moving home will be joining your nest, there’s planning to be done now. Here are five key strategies for establishing the foundation of a healthy relationship with adult children moving home:

  • Establish ground rules now: Some families with adult children living at home find a contract can help formalize the rules and keep everyone on the same page.
  • Decide ahead of time how they will contribute: They may not be able to afford market-value rent, but adult children living at home should help make a dent in the extra expenses they create (extra gas, higher phone bill, etc.). Make sure this is clear before they start packing up the dorm.
  • Don’t help too much: A college grad is capable of painting their room and planning their own move. Don’t take care of all the details or you’ll find yourself doing laundry and making lunches once they’re home.
  • Set a deadline for them to leave: Though it may sound harsh, setting a time limit ahead of time helps keep everyone focused on the fact that eventually the new grad needs to establish their independence.
  • Above all: Stay calm! Planning the details of your new grad’s return to the nest can be stressful, but anger isn’t helpful. Try a time out, or work on developing new communication techniques – they’ll come in handy once you’re all sharing a home.

The truth is that moving home is difficult for new grads and for their parents. Working out the details ahead of time can help prevent stress-induced blowups that can permanently damage important family relationships when there are adult children living at home.

About the Author: Christina Newberry is author of The Hands-on Guide to Surviving Adult Children Living at Home. For more detailed communications strategies that can help you avoid the emotional landmines mentioned in this article, along with a customizable “Under one Roof” contract and household budget calculator, visit her website at