Moving Back Home: How Long Is Too Long?

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You might call J. Maureen Henderson a one-person empire: Other than being a Gen-Y expert, Forbes contributor, and self-described know-it-all, she also founded Secret Agent Research, a creative content marketing training for small business. You can catch her other musings on her blog, Generation Meh.


How long is too long to live at home after college? It depends on who you ask. A new survey from Coldwell Banker reveals Boomer parents and their Millennial offspring don’t quite see eye-to-eye when it comes to the appropriate length of time to seek refuge in the nest after earning a degree. Those 55 and up were fine with stays of three years, while survey respondents 18 to 34 thought five years was a suitable maximum.

Generation Z, however, has both Millennials and Boomers beat. According to an Ameritrade survey from June, its members — the oldest of whom are college freshman — cite 28 as the age beyond which they’d feel embarrassed to be shacking up chez Mom and Dad.

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Opinions on living at home also break down along gender lines. Men are more likely than women — 16 percent to 11 percent — to believe that adult children should never live at home. Their bluster belies the real-world data, however, as the Pew recently reported that 40 percent of male Millennials live at home vs. 32 percent of female Millennials. In some cases, young men actually reap an additional long-term benefit from moving back into the nest. UPenn research found that unemployed Millennial men who live at home after becoming unemployed don’t suffer the same negative effect on future earnings that peers who don’t move back home face.

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Regardless of the duration of the stay, most Americans are on the same page when it comes to the criteria for a successful multi-generational household.

92 percent believe that adult children should be fending for themselves when it comes to doing household chores.

82 percent say paying rent is a must.

80 percent think it’s okay to live at home if you’re saving to buy a place of your own.

65 percent are of the mind that the kids should vacate the premises upon landing a job.

By and large, most boomerang living arrangements are satisfactory ones — at least from the perspective of Millennials. According to 2012 research from the Pew, 78 percent of live-at-home young adults are happy with their accommodations and almost half report that living with their parents hasn’t affected the family dynamic in a negative way. No word, however, on whether this survey was conducted during year one or year five.

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This post originally appeared on Forbes’ The Ground Floor.