Back In The Nest

After a brief spell as empty nesters, more and more parents are welcoming their adult children back home. This is happening at a high rate, for many different reasons:
The current job market is limited and incredibly competitive
To build up savings for a home, paying off loans, etc.
Increasing debt from OSAP, tuition, school housing, etc.
The cost of living is too high for new grads
Job layoffs becoming more common
A difficult breakup or divorce
Helping a parent(s) through a loss, injury or illness
Whatever the reason, it’s a new dynamic that needs to be navigated carefully. It can also be a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with your kids as adults. Consider these important steps for a smooth transition:

1. Initial Conversation

Have a serious talk with your child before any moving begins. You’ll want to discuss:

1. Goals and reasons for moving back home

2. Finances

Will your child be contributing to expenses like groceries, utilities, etc. and will you as parents be contributing to expenses like car insurance, cell phone bill, etc.?
It’s important to remember that parents are under no obligation to help with bills like these once a child has moved home. For adult children: yes, moving home is often about saving finances, but you shouldn’t be dipping into your parents’ savings to do so.
3. End date

It doesn’t have to be a strict move-out day with serious consequences if not met (although it can be)
For everyone’s peace of mind and motivation, it helps to set an end date so both parties know this arrangement isn’t forever
4. Storage and disposal of belongings

A new graduate won’t usually have a lot of items to bring home with them, but there still could be some necessary downsizing
Organize their items into categories: trash, store, donate, keep – distribute them accordingly
Consider storing some larger items in garages, attics or basements of larger homes or renting a storage unit if the move back home is short-term
2. Moving Back In

The next big step is planning the logistics of moving your son(s) or daughter(s) home.

About 1-3 weeks prior to a move, you and your child should have these items arranged:

Deciding what items are staying or going
Packing the non-essential items
Developing a plan and timeframe for packing the essentials and larger items
An organized labelling and packing system to keep track of their belongings
Selecting and setting up child’s new room
Booking moving vehicles and crew if necessary
Arranging times if family/friends are helping with move
Cancelling any utilities to the old space
Changing information and address on important billing information
3. Setting Ground Rules

Once the move has occurred, it’s time for another conversation between you and your adult kid; to set some ground rules.

This isn’t like the old days though, as both parties need to be acknowledged and act as adults. There will be no setting curfews anymore, but this should be obvious.

Both sides will need to acknowledge some harsh realities and be prepared to work together as adults, rather than just as parent and child.


Your kids will be going out and even (take a deep breath) dating. This is ok as long as it doesn’t disrespect your home
If your child is looking for a job, understand that the job market is nothing like it was in your day – really think over any undue pressure you try to place on your kid
If your child already has a full-time or (possibly) many part-time jobs, understand that there is another working adult in the home – they don’t get handed a special helping of household jobs because they’re still the child; it’s an equal partnership of adults
Adult moving back in with parents:

At the end of the day you are not the homeowner, so parents get the final word
Just like with a roommate, run it by your folks before having friends or a significant other over; it comes down to basic consideration and common sense
You are not a kid anymore, so you will and should take on more responsibility than before you moved out
Help take equal care of the household chores like lawn care, dishes, cooking, grocery shopping etc.
With these realities in mind, negotiate the responsibilities to be taken on by each party and clearly outline anything you aren’t comfortable with the other party doing. Trust us, you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches in the future.

4. Perspective

Keeping things in perspective is an important element to making this move successful. Getting a better grip on the other party’s mindset is the truest way to handle the arrangement.

Adult Kids:

Remember that parents didn’t grow up ever expecting to live in a world where children would need to move back home at the rate it happens now. It’s a serious adjustment, one they may not have planned for financially or otherwise.

Just remind yourself that any hesitance or restrictions they give is not a reflection of their love for you or trust in you, it’s just an adjustment. You’re an adult now, expect to be treated as such.


It often gets lost in this recurring conversation, that this isn’t ideal for the child either. Having to move back in with the folks after finally gaining some independence is a big impact in most young adults’ pride. The harsh reality of the current economy and job market is also another devastating blow.

Generations in their 20s are becoming increasingly cynical to their current prospects and you’d be amazed what a little understanding can do to help motivate them to achieve greater success.

Additionally, it’s really important to remember that this is a common reality right now. Upwards of 25% of young adults in their 20s and 30s are living at home again after college or university. Jobs are scarce, the cost of living is high and student debt is a big problem.

This is not a reflection of poor parenting or a child’s lack of ambition. It is what it is and you all need to navigate it together.

5. Communication

Communication is the single most critical factor involved in this transition, as with any big life change. As adults, open communication is the key to keeping things going smoothly.

Any issues that arise or changes in either party’s situation should be brought up, discussed and resolved as soon as possible. This avoids any irritation or resentment from building up. Don’t let things fester.

While the logistics and process management of this move back home might seem difficult, don’t let that blind you to the positive potential. Your children can save a little money to kick start them for a more successful future, you can get a little extra help and company at home, and both of you can reconnect for a better relationship.

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