It used to be that when you graduated from college, you were expected to move out on your own. These days, experts say families need to carefully consider the pros and cons of moving home or moving out.
The financial equation has changed for many young adults. They leave college with a huge student loan debt hanging over their heads.
"I'm already home with mom and dad with how expensive college is. It really forced me to stay home rather than go somewhere else," said Jake Jarbou.
Where to live? What's the cost?
Deciding where to live is one of the biggest questions facing graduated. Many parents realize today's young adults are facing some tougher challenges.
"The economy's a little more difficult, there's a lot of people applying for the same positions. So, yeah, it's definitely harder in my opinion," said Dean Amburn.
Experts say it's important now more than ever for graduates to crunch the numbers to see if moving out on their own is realistic.
"Doing your research and knowing what things cost, and what your priorities should be, that's going to put you ahead of everyone else," said Scott Gamm of HelpSaveMyDollars.com.
Of course, finding a job is step one. Then, graduates need to start crunching the numbers on income, rent, student loan payments, auto expenses, food, and insurance.
If at all possible, young adults may want to set a goal for paying off their student loans. Is there a way to pay off the loans in 10 years? 15 years? Getting that debt paid off might need to be priority No. 1, that way grads can know how much money is left over for living expenses.
"I think the first two, three years of my life I'm going to have to live pretty impoverished," Jarbou said.
Flying back to the family nest
If the numbers don't add up, it may be better for the graduate to fly back to the family nest. Many parents are willing to give their adult children the support they need to get a better start in life.
"He'll be welcomed back home if he needs to get a little launching pad for it," said Amburn, who is the father of two teenage boys.
However, expert caution parents from giving their kids a free pass when they move back into the home. If you give them too many perks without requiring some participation, you could be getting into dangerous territory.
Jeff Sadowski of Birmingham, a father of three, agrees.
"If they came home, I would have a contract with them, and that contract would be duties and responsibilities, and probably rent and some step towards emancipation," he said.
How to move home without driving each other crazy
If moving home is the best way to go, there are several steps families should take to make that transition go more smoothly.
1) Start talking about the student moving home well before graduation. Consider the pros and cons together.
2) Work out some house rules that show mutual respect for each side. Curfews for young adults might not work, but the graduate needs to be respectful of others in the home.
3) The graduate should contribute to the household, by sharing expenses or working around the house.
4) Are there other relatives who might have room? Some grandparents need the company and help around the house. Working out a mutual beneficial agreement could help both sides.
5) Some experts suggest young adults should function like they're still living on their own, doing their own laundry, cleaning, and cooking. Don't expect your parents to revert to childhood patterns.
6) It might also be a good idea to do some redecorating. If you're room hasn't changed since high school graduation, maybe you start the transition to adulthood by turning your space into a place an adult would live.
7) Finally, set goals or milestones that will move the graduate toward a move out date. It could be a time limit, or when their student loans are paid off, or when they have a higher paying job. Agree on some benchmarks that will give both sides some hope that the arrangement will not last forever.