There are many reasons why you might be considering living with family as an adult. Moving back home can be a smart financial decision, and a good planning measure for the future. And, it can be a lovely way to stay close and connected with the people you care about most in the world.
That said, we know that moving back home after living on your own or with mates comes with plenty of questions. Are you going to have to follow the old rules? Will you be treated like an adult? Where will you find the space for all your belongings?
In this Spacer article, we’re going to untangle the challenges of living with family as an adult before the tensions start to run high. We have 15 helpful tips in total, so get ready to make a smooth transition back into your family home!
#1: Know what to expect when living with family as an adult
Every family dynamic is unique. But there are a few universal experiences that you may face as an adult moving back home. Learning about the common challenges, hang-ups and joys of moving back home as an adult can help you prepare for this new stage of your life.
Here are a few examples:
- A feeling of comfort and confidence. You’re back in a place that was your home for years! Even if the space has changed, you might experience a feeling of relaxation and familiarity when moving home.
- Uncertainty about the future. Maybe, when you first moved away from your family home, you expected to live with flatmates, a partner, or solo, for good. Regardless of why you’ve decided to move back in with family as an adult, whether it’s to lower your average monthly living cost or because your family could use an extra hand, it’s completely normal to feel some trepidation about how long it will be until you have your own place again. In this guide, we’ll talk more about how planning can help alleviate those feelings.
- Confusion about your role in the household. Often what we see with adults returning home is that the household will automatically revert to old family dynamics. You might start to feel like a teenager again. Your parents or older siblings may fall into the role of caretaker. Since you’ve grown and changed since moving away, it can be a frustrating experience. Luckily, there’s a lot that you can do as a family to build new roles and relationships that fit the new landscape.
As with all life changes, moving back home is going to have its emotional ups and downs. One thing that can be helpful to remember is that your experience is shared by many. In fact, according to the latest surveys of Australian households, 26% of families are living with an adult child right now. Money Magazine is reporting that the percentage of adult children between 18 and 29 living with family might even be higher—closer to 50%.
Because so many young adults are going through this change, we’re able to put together a road map for a more successful transition. We would encourage you to adapt these suggestions to fit your unique family and situation.
#2: Iron out the logistics of the moving process
Let’s start with some basic logistical questions. Are you going to be moving back into your old room? Did your parents transform your room into a home gym while you were away? Where are you going to store your items?
Here are a few suggestions for the moving process:
- If you’re moving into a room that wasn’t yours, consider it an advantage. When you moved out, your family might have converted your room into a craft space or extra guest bedroom. That means you might be moving into another room or a completely new version of your old room. We say: that’s great! A new space will help you see this is a new phase of your life instead of a return back to the time before you left.
- If you are moving back into your old room, clear out your old things. Again, because this is a new stage in your life, there’s no reason for you to live in the past. You’ve likely accumulated new furniture, clothing, and bed linens from the time you lived away from home, which are more suited to your current lifestyle. Why not box up all of those old items and replace them with your new belongings?
- Don’t overwhelm your family with your things. What we want you to avoid, of course, is packing your childhood belongings in a couple of boxes and storing them in the garage for the family to deal with later. Instead, go through your items deliberately, holding onto only the items that you want to keep and donating or selling the rest. You can also digitise pictures and important documents so that there are fewer items to sort through.
If you do have some items that you want to hold onto, you might consider placing them in storage. Spacer offers affordable, convenient storage spaces for rent in cities all over the country, from Perth to Melbourne to Sydney. Storage is a great option for items, such as kitchen and living room items, that will be redundant in your family home.
# 3: Figure out the parking situation
Similar to issues surrounding space and storage, figuring out where you’re going to park is important.
Does your family have enough space to accommodate your car? Will you have to find parking elsewhere? If you’ll have to double park, can you get on a schedule that won’t leave anyone stranded without transportation?
#4: Consider your long term goals
After ironing out the logistical issues, it’s time to delve into some more future planning. There are some huge advantages to doing this in the beginning stages of moving home.
On the one hand, planning out some future goals will help you to feel more active and autonomous in a moment in your life that may feel decided for you. And, there’s evidence to show that goal planning is a way to boost your mental wellness.
Here are some questions that can help guide you through this process:
- Ideally, how long do you see yourself living with family?
- Does your timeline align with your family’s timeline?
- Are you saving up for something in particular? This might be becoming self-sufficient again, buying a home or car, moving abroad, finishing school or any number of other goals.
With these long term goals in mind, you can start to plan out some smaller steps towards meeting them. Here are a few common milestones that you can work toward:
- Weekly and monthly savings goals that you’ll need to meet in order to reach your long term goals
- Weekly or monthly tasks that need to be completed, such as researching job opportunities, contacting real estate agents, working towards your university degree, or whatever specific responsibilities are in line with your goals
- Periodic reflections on your progress and what you can improve upon. We would recommend doing this at least once per quarter, or monthly.
You’ll be amazed at how empowered you feel when sitting down and writing out your goals. No matter why you’re living with family at the moment, having these exciting plans in mind will help you feel motivated about the future.
#5: Have the money talk
It might not be the most comfortable conversation, but it’s going to be important to talk about finances when living with family again. This step will require you to consider whether you’re in a position to help pay expenses and if you are, decide on how much to contribute.
In order to make this conversation as fruitful as possible, do some research and financial planning ahead of time. Familiarise yourself with general costs for a family of 4 in Australia (or, however many people are living in the home) or ask to see the household bills. That way, you can have a pretty good idea of how much you can expect to contribute, given your current financial standing.
At that point, you can sit down with your family and talk about money! Be honest about your long term financial goals and be prepared to pitch in what you can afford.
#6: Revisit old rules
Family members in the house might expect you to adhere to old rules, while you are assuming that those structures have long gone out the window. That’s why it’s important to sit down and talk about some guidelines that can help you navigate this new setup.
Here are a few questions to consider in this conversation:
- Are your parents expecting you home at a certain time? If you’ll be home late, how can you keep from waking everyone when you arrive?
- Will meals be shared? Should you give family members notice if you plan on eating out?
- What is the protocol for guests?
There may be other specific requests for your family members, depending on the household.
Perhaps, for instance, you’ll be asked to turn off music or television at a certain time to respect others’ sleep schedules. There may also be guidelines around the use of air-conditioning, exercise equipment or other high energy appliances.
Consider the first month or two to be a trial period for these guidelines. There may be requests that you or your family forgot to include, and others that aren’t as big of a deal as you might have expected.
#7: Take on some new responsibilities
At the same time that you’re talking with family about guidelines, it will also be a good opportunity to revisit your role in household responsibilities. By taking on more of the tasks in the home, you’ll be able to avoid falling into old family dynamics. If you’re interested in maintaining your independence, it will be important to see yourself as a flatmate with equal share of household chores.
Here are some common responsibilities for young adults living with family:
- Laundry. When moving out of home, you probably got into a habit of doing your own laundry. You can continue to do so at home.
- Dishes. With an extra person in the house, dishes are prone to start piling up. So, make sure to do the dishes as you use them.
- Bathroom cleaning. This falls into the category of cleaning up after yourself, and it will be especially important if you share a bathroom or your bathroom doubles as a guest bath.
- Cooking. Let’s face it, many young adults may not be as skilled in the kitchen as their parents, but that doesn’t mean that you should shirk the responsibility completely. If family members are open to it, offer to cook. Or, at the very least, you can help with the grocery shopping and prep.
- General tidying up. This is a basic way to be a good person to live with. Your flatmates would expect it from you, and your family will too.
#8: Get on a schedule
Again, this is a step that will help you maintain a sense of autonomy. Even if your schedule is relatively open right now, you can still benefit from a consistent sleep schedule, regular exercise, and other productive activities.
#9: Stay organised
If you were a bit of a messy kid or teenager, you might find yourself slipping back into old ways when you move back home.
Here are a few easy tricks to help you stay organised:
- Don’t leave your personal belongings in common areas
- Make sure you have all the organisation tools you need, including boxes, hangers, baskets, or whatever is best for your items
- Tidy up your room once per day
#10: Maintain your hobbies and interests
During any kind of life transition, it’s going to be helpful to continue dedicating time to the things that you love. This can be especially important when you’re trying to maintain the identity you’ve built since moving out of home so that you don’t revert back to an earlier version of yourself.
Whether it’s jogging, reading, political activism, or any other hobby you’ve picked up in recent years, make sure you stay connected with it!
#11: How much family time is too much? Too little?
Another common point of conflict when living with family again is figuring out the right amount of quality time.
It can go one of two ways. In one scenario, you might find yourself spending all of your time in your room, which can make family members feel alienated and perhaps even taken advantage of. On the other extreme, you may end up monopolising your family’s time or common areas in the home, which can be emotionally taxing on everyone.
With a little bit of self-awareness, you can be sure to land somewhere in the middle. This will mean striking a healthy balance between alone time and quality family time. In order to do this, you might schedule activities, like game nights, movie nights, or walks in the neighbourhood.
#12: Keep communication open
You’ve probably noticed that many of the tips on this list involve sitting down with family members and talking things through.
It might feel strange at first, but trust us, communication between young adults and the family members they live with is key. If you have concerns or suggestions about how to make the house a more harmonious place to live, make sure to put it into words!
#13: Learn how to listen
This isn’t just a helpful tip for living with family—it’s a helpful life tip! Learning how to listen to family members will not only improve household dynamics but also teach you how to be a better friend, coworker, and partner in the future.
Here are a few things that make someone an excellent listener:
- Remove distractions
- Make eye contact
- Don’t interrupt
- Repeat back what the speaker has said in your own words
If that seems simple, that’s because it is! As an adult child living at home, learning how to listen to your parents or other family members in the house is a true sign of growth. And it will make your living situation so much easier.
#14: Know when to give it some space
Now, regardless of how great of a communicator and listener you are, conflicts will sometimes arise. That’s just how it is.
If you feel that communication has broken down or the house feels tense and your efforts to problem-solve aren’t working, it might be a good idea to take some time to relax.
Take a walk, spend some time with friends, or plan a weeklong trip away so that everyone can have some time to reflect and reset.
#15: Remember to say thanks
Gratitude isn’t always easy, but it is always powerful. No matter what the relationship is like with your family members, how long you’re planning on living with family, or what your goals are for the future, there’s plenty to be grateful for. Remember to say thanks when you can. Your family will appreciate it.
What are your thoughts on living with family?
If you’re getting ready to move back home, we hope you found these 15 tips helpful for your transition!
Still have questions about how to navigate living with family? Keep the conversation going by reaching out to the Spacer team!