Spring has sprung, finals are behind you for good and you will never have to wear that itchy polyester graduation gown again, though we have to admit it looked great on you. You have finally hit one of life’s major milestones — you’ve graduated college. So what now? For those of you who don’t have a permanent job or internship lined up right away — or even for some of you who do — it might mean you’re moving back home. The question is, how can you stay sane when facing financial issues, family drama, and all the potential pitfalls of returning home after school? Lucky for you, I’m here to show you how, and you just might find that it’s not as bad as it sounds.
Pro: Rent-free living!
One of the major benefits of heading home after school is that unlike living in a dorm or an apartment, staying in your childhood bedroom is free of charge! You might want to take down those embarrassing One Direction posters, but otherwise, living at home comes with this notable, wallet-friendly perk. Unless your parents have asked you to chip in monetarily, moving back home will give you the unique opportunity to save money while planning your next move, before your student loans start coming due.
Christina Troy graduated from Merrimack College in 2009 and decided to move back home for a while. She appreciated not having to pay rent and was able to take advantage of her time at home to save for the future.
“If your parents are accommodating to you, and you’re fortunate enough to not have to pay rent, then financially you are going to be in a great position when you do move out on your own. The money you save now will be a great thing to have when you choose to either rent or buy in the long run,” she says.
Now, just because you are living rent-free doesn’t mean your hard-earned money can now go to unlimited shopping sprees and all the happy hour drinks you want. Take advantage of this opportunity to save your money so that once you decide to fly out of the nest, you’ll have something set aside to build your own. For example, set a certain amount to put in your savings account per month, depending on how much you’re making, say — $200. It’ll add up fast!
Con: Less privacy and independence
Remember your high school days, when mom and dad wanted to know where you were going, who you were going with, what you were doing and when you’d be back? Now you’re in your early 20s, and they still want to know all of that information. Just because you have a car (if you’re lucky) and a college degree doesn’t mean they’re any less curious about your life and who’s in it and when it’s taking place.
It can be challenging to keep your cool while maintaining the hard-won independence you found while away at school, and throwing a good old-fashioned teenage tantrum can become oh-so-tempting. Resist the urge to lash out at your parents, who are not only giving their college grad a free place to stay but are also coming from a place of parental concern, not nosiness.
“Unfortunately, moving home also means having to answer to my parents again,” says Maddy Harrington from Mount Holyoke College, who is moving home for about a year. “I’m going to lose a lot of privacy.”
Even though she’s nervous about making the transition from college life to home life, she’s hopeful that it will be a positive experience. “I think it’s a great idea for anyone who has the option — save your money, reconnect with your family while you have the time, and enjoy the last remnants of your childhood before you have to move out because your parents are making you crazy,” she says.
Your parents will probably be as curious as ever about your dating and social life, and it won’t be acceptable to stumble in at 3 a.m. like you could have during college. Humor them by giving them basic information when you go out, and keeping your cell phone on you. You may be an adult and a college graduate, but they are still your parents and you’re under their roof again, which means that to a certain extent, you have to play by their rules.
Pro: Reuniting with old friends
Even though you and your best girlfriend from high school pinky-promised you’d be best friends forever, many changes take place between high school and college. The good news is she’s back home for the summer, too, and after attending school on opposite ends of the country, you’ll finally be able to reconnect! You can visit all your old high school haunts and catch up on everything that’s happened over the past few years, and if it’s as good a friendship as you think it is, you two probably won’t miss a beat when you meet up again.
While you’re likely to run into old friends during the summer, the scene may change when fall rolls around and they’re moving on to new jobs, grad school or just new locations. But when your friends come home for holidays and other events, it’ll be easy to re-connect with them now that you’re back in the area.
Con: Re-adjusting to a quieter social life
Whether you lived in a dorm or in an apartment for most of your college life, you know how easy it was to find someone who wanted to hang out. After simply walking down the hall and knocking on a few doors or sending out a text or two, you had plans for the night and could successfully procrastinate on your term paper. But now, your friends are all over the place and it will take a bit more effort to get together.
“I think one of the hardest parts of the initial transition was realizing that I wasn’t going to be constantly surrounded by my friends and people my age at all times. I wasn’t going to be able to just hang out with my friends any time I chose. There’s definitely more planning involved when you try to meet up with people because everyone is coming from different areas now,” Christina says.
Your friends may not live nearby anymore, so it’ll take extra effort to meet up with each other, especially if you live slightly out of town.
Stephanie Welling from Chatham University will be heading home for the summer after school is out. She’s worried that she’ll miss the friends she has made while in school, and knows that the social scene just won’t be the same in her hometown.
“The friendships I have cultivated here at college are already stronger than my old friendships. While I love those girls, living in the same building as your friends provides a bond that previous friendships have a hard time matching,” she says.
Another challenge that comes with moving home is the added difficulty of transportation. There won’t be numerous on-campus hangout spots to choose from or an easy place to crash, so you and your friends will have to coordinate. It’s likely you’ll have to head out of town for the night, which means you’ll definitely have to find a designated driver and a safe place to stay, unless you plan on heading home later on.
Pro: Time to make a plan
One of the major benefits of not rushing into a job or internship right after graduation is that if you’re like millions of other college women and don’t know exactly what you want to do with your freshly minted college education yet, you’ll have plenty of time to figure it out in the comfort of your own home.
“I’m moving home after college because I decided to change my career path pretty recently, and as a result, I don’t expect to be making enough money to support myself anytime soon. Given the state of the economy and my recent change of interest, I’m probably going to need to intern or volunteer for a while before I find a real, grown-up, paying job in my field,” she says.
In 2011, The Huffington Post reported that with an average of $27,000 in student debt, record numbers of college graduates had decided to head home until they could afford to live independently.
Not only that, the same article stated that as of 2011, a whopping total of 50 percent of college graduates younger than 25 were “underutilized, meaning they’re either working no job at all, working a part-time job or working a job outside of the college labor market — say, as a barista or a bartender.”
Con: Falling into a rut
Keep in mind that you’re officially a college-educated adult now, and you know better than to fall back on teenage habits. Your parents are nice enough to let you move home after school and provide for you, so show them your appreciation by being your responsible, fabulous self. With any luck you learned how to master microwave meals, at least, so don’t rely on mom and dad to wait on you.
“I also think it’s easy for you to revert into old habits if you’re not careful, like hoping mom will do the laundry or not stocking up what you want to eat in the fridge,” Christina says.
You can fend for yourself now, and if nothing else they will be impressed by your independence and self-reliance, even while living under their roof. Clean up after yourself, do your own laundry and make your own meals. If you’re clueless in the kitchen, ask your parents! They’ll probably be pleased by your initiative and it’ll make for a great bonding moment.
Focus on the positive aspects of living at home, rather than the negative
“Moving home is great because it means I have free food, free laundry, a warm bed to sleep in, and all the other perks of living with mom and dad,” Maddy says.
I hope you’re ready to handle moving back home after college, if that’s your plan. Best of luck, and remember keep a positive mind!