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6 steps to take when your adult child moves back home

adult child putting stuff in storage

A record number — as much as one-third of young adults — are choosing to live with their parents instead of on their own. It can be hard for millennials to pay rent and save for a down payment on a home, especially in Canada’s biggest cities. That’s why many choose to move in with Mom and Dad as a more affordable option and why parents may need to manage expectations when an adult child moves back home.

For parents, adult children moving back in can be a blessing or a burden, sometimes both. We look at the adjustments that both parties need to make to ensure the arrangement works.

Step 1. Set expectations


The ultimate goal of any parent is for his or her child to build an independent, successful life outside of the family home. However, with the cost of living, especially in Canada’s biggest cities, millennials can find it difficult to pay rent and save for a down payment on a house — especially if they’re just starting out in their career. Living with their parents can be a mutually beneficial money-saving option for both parents and adult children, alike.

But before your 20 or 30something adult child moves back home, it’s important to have a discussion about what both parties expect. You don’t want to come across as an ogre, but neither do you want to be taken for granted either.

Step 2. Charge rent

Couple calculating costs using data

One of the hardest subjects to broach when setting ground rules is what rent to charge. Establishing clear boundaries from the start is important. If they want to be seen as adults and not children, then make sure that they know that paying rent is part of the deal well before moving day. This will give them time to adjust their budget and work out how much money they can save, as well as sorting out insurance (if they’re not covered under your policy) and other expenses.

Step 3. Discuss house rules

nerd cave

Setting house rules may seem petty, but when your child is playing noisy video games late at night, then you may wish you had.

Consider discussing rules for the following:

  • Housework. Having an extra person in the house means extra cleaning of common areas, and it’s only fair they do their share. Would it work to create a cleaning roster? Is it better if everyone chips in for a cleaner once a week? Let them know that they need to clean their own living space and do their own laundry.
  • Noise. If you have a large house, this doesn’t apply but, in a smaller home, each party’s noise may intrude into the peace and quiet of the other. Discuss what decibel level is suitable or find ways to lessen it like using headphones for listening to music.
  • Socializing. You don’t want your children to be hermits but you may not want their friends traipsing in and out of your home at all hours either. Discuss what’s appropriate in terms of having friends over, as well as drinking and smoking.
  • Relationships. It may not be just your children that move back in — they may have long-term partners who stay over frequently (and eat breakfast at your place for half the week). Let your children know what you’re ok with and what you’re not.
  • Buying food. Will their rent money pay for their share of the food or will they pay for this separately? Will they have their own food cupboard or will it be a communal arrangement?

Step 4. Discuss your schedules

Your children may have established routines that don’t vary all that much or they may keep irregular hours. Either way, if you know each other’s schedules in advance, you’ll know what to expect. Of course, they may have their own self-contained living space in your house, which makes things a lot easier. But if you’re all sharing a bathroom, knowing who needs to use the shower at 6 a.m. can avoid arguments.

Step 5. Set a time limit

alarm clock time

Make it clear from the start that this is a temporary arrangement. If your children have a specific goal, e.g. to save for a down payment on a house, then discuss what the finish date is likely to be. It’s important to establish a time limit because, if you don’t, they can get settled, and put down roots.

For some parents, having their kids around is great because everyone gets along well, but for others, it can feel like the parenting never ends.

Step 6. This is still your house

Lock in your mortgage rates before tougher regulations hit

You may have been enjoying your retirement or being an empty nester, so an adult child returning home can be difficult to adjust to. Remember that you’re doing them a favour, not the other way around. If they don’t like your ground rules, they’re more than welcome to move out.

In general, there’s no reason why an adult child moving back in can’t work as long as everyone respects one another and treats each other as adults.

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Angela Pearse

Angela Pearse is a freelance writer who frequently travels but loves returning home to her Art Deco apartment. She’s also passionate about historical novels, Netflix, hiking and healthy living.