Ragland, a real estate investor in the Washington, D.C., area, believes older kids can also pull their weight in other ways. His daughter and 22-year-old son (who also lives at home while he finishes up his college degree) do chores alongside his 12-year-old son. “They do dishes and contribute to the running of the house, but they don’t pay a cent for food,” he says. “That’s a definite perk to living at home again.”
How Moving (Back) in Can Help Kids Out
Mary Dell Harrington, a writer in Westchester, N.Y., who covers these topics on her website, Grown and Flown, welcomed her 23-year-old son to live at home—rent-free—when he graduated from college in May and was interviewing for jobs. During the day, when he didn’t have an interview, he did work around the house, whether taking care of the family dogs, being home to greet the occasional appliance repairman or getting dinner on the table.
“The only problem with his dinner prep is that he loves spicy food and used Tabasco sauce a little too liberally for some in the family,” she jokes.
Harrington sees no downside to letting her son live with her without chipping in financially, especially since he recently got a job and will soon move out of the house.
“If he was living at home long-term, he’d have no idea how expensive it is to maintain an apartment, pay utilities and buy groceries,” says one mom.
Thanks to their setup, her son has been able to save up for life on his own. “If he had to immediately begin paying for all of his living expenses in New York City where he works, it would be way more difficult for him to get on his feet financially,” she explains. “With a financial cushion of money he saved living at home, he’ll have a running start.”
She admits, however, that if the rent-free living arrangement had been more permanent, her son would have an unrealistic sense of money management. “If he was living at home long-term, he’d have no idea how expensive it is to maintain an apartment, pay utilities and buy groceries,” she says.
A Second Chance to Bond?
Bill Parker, an accountant in Scottsdale, Ariz., invited his 23-year-old daughter to move in with him two and a half years ago, when she had to drop out of college after becoming sick and being unable to keep up with her workload. Parker says that their time together has brought him endless joy—not to mention 25 percent of the rent. (He didn’t do a 50-50 split because he makes more money than his daughter.)
“I got divorced from her mom almost seven years ago, so I see this as a great opportunity to bond with her under less stressful circumstances,” he says.
Parker says asking his daughter, who works as a marketing assistant, to contribute to the rent wasn’t tough at all. “I explained that the rent she’ll pay me is less than what she would pay if she lived with friends,” he says.
In addition, his daughter also helps pay for half of the groceries and half of the utility bills. “I want her to feel the pain of turning air conditioning up, leaving lights on, etc.,” he says.
At the end of the day, he couldn’t be happier. “This has probably been the best two and a half years of our relationship,” he says. “We have grown closer than we ever were.”
What remains tough: The fact that he worries a lot—maybe more than if they weren’t living together. “I worry when she’s out at night,” he says. “But I wouldn’t change a thing. Having her live with me will be a memory I keep for the rest of my life.”
And that’s something else to keep in mind when a child moves back home: It doesn’t have to be a bad thing. “It’s a second chance,” says Blaylock. Not only can cohabitation bring parents and children closer, but it can also give parents another opportunity to teach their children some of the money lessons that they might’ve skimmed over or skipped entirely when they were younger. “Parents can even accept some of the responsibility for what’s going on and say, ‘Maybe I didn’t do such a good job of teaching you this stuff when you were 16, but let’s start now,’ ” he suggests. “That way the kid doesn’t feel like a failure.”
As for Weis, there is now an end in sight to her cohabitation with her daughter. “She can’t wait to move out,” she says. “We may be best friends, but we both agree that it’s time we had our separate lives. Luckily, for now, she has the upstairs and I have the downstairs—that’s how we’ve made this work.”
LearnVest Planning Services is a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of LearnVest, Inc. that provides financial plans for its clients. Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Please consult a financial adviser for advice specific to your financial situation. The people quoted in this piece are not clients of LearnVest Planning Services. LearnVest Planning Services and any third parties listed in this message are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s products, services or policies.