Moving Home After Graduation
- Affordable – Moving back in with your folks is definitely the cheapest option available to you after college. Seriously consider it if finding your own place is not immediately financially possible.
- Convenient – The transition from the 1:30PM wake-up days of college to an 60 hour workweek can be a huge shock to the system. Postponing the stresses of finding an apartment, paying bills, and dealing with landlords will make the transition that much smoother.
- Freedom vs. finance – While moving back home is considerably easier on the wallet, be realistic about what you’re giving up. Your parents will still expect you to do chores around the house, and you won’t be as free to entertain guests like you would if you had your own place.
- Help out – Don’t make a difficult situation even worse by being a burden. Offer to do the shopping, cook dinner, or clean the dishes. Show your parents that you appreciate their kindness and that the current setup is only temporary. Your gratitude may even be rewarded.
- Enjoy – Once you move out, it won’t be so easy to catch a game with your dad or go shopping with mom. Make sure to maximize your free time together (emphasis on the word FREE).
One minute she’s the laundry fairy. Like Mrs. Brady, all sweet and kind and sympathetic, she picks up my dirty socks and magically returns them to the closet matched and folded and smelling like clean mountain air. Then a second later she morphs into
Mrs. Costanza. Her deafening screams reverberate through the house. “Georgie!!! Get dressed it’s time to go to work! Coffee’s not breakfast! Don’t forget a hat!!!“ Yes, despite having supposedly graduated from college and entered the real world, I have moved back into my childhood home. It was the worst/best/most regrettable/most financially necessary decision I have ever made.
I know some people (and not necessarily just my pale skinny friends from Halo conventions) who stuck it out until just shy of their 30th birthdays. Others barely made it a week before moving into the first overpriced five-by-five studio they could find. Every recent graduate has to figure out what’s most important—freedom or finance, a dishwasher or sanity. The key is to be smart and do the math. Check out The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for some helpful tips on staying solvent and sane.
The Price is Right
OK class, let’s do some math. A starting salary of $50,000 brings in about $32,000 a year, or roughly $2,600 a month after taxes. Not a bad chunk of change to cover bar bills or Manolo Blahnik fetishes. But then there’s rent, which on average will run $1,000 a month. Still $1,600 left. But then there are utilities: cable, Internet, and cell-phone; and miscellaneous necessities like dry cleaning, toilet paper, and toothpaste. All that leaves $1,200 a month, or $40 a day, on which to eat, drink, dress, and be merry. Not impossible by any means, just difficult. But let’s now reverse, returning the toothpaste, the utilities, and best of all the rent and what do we end up with? A whopping $80 per day. I’m coming home again!
Going from a few classes a day to an 60 hour workweek takes some getting used to. Finding an apartment, getting it furnished, paying bills, and doing laundry can be a serious shock to the system. But at home they’ve got dishwashers. At home they’ve got fully stocked fridges. At home they’ve got laundry fairies. In terms of maximizing those precious few hours of relaxation, home can be a godsend.
It was my first Friday of work since moving back home. My computer’s clock was playing games with me, stubbornly sticking on 4:35PM for what seemed like forever. I was all set to book out of the office and meet my high-school buddies for a beer (or ten). Then the phone rang. “Hey sweetie, can you stop at store on the way home and pick up some coffee. We’re out and….” I threw the receiver and stared it down. “Okay, phone, so you’re out to get me too?” It will happen. The chores might not be as time-consuming as they are when you live alone, but we all hated doing them in high school, and we sure hate them now after four years of Braveheart-like freedom.
Bye Bye Sex Life
The girl or boy is incredibly hot. My game is working to perfection, every joke hitting like Eddie Murphy when he was still funny. She’ll never find out that I’m not actually a professional polo player, will she? Maybe not. But there’s no way to get around the fact that the only bed to take her back to is a tiny twin in a bedroom lined with action movie posters and sports memorabilia (replace with stuffed ponies and pink wallpaper if gender differences apply). Just remember, there are few words in the English language like, “Shhh…let me see if my parents are asleep,” to kill the romance of a budding one-night stand
The Final Word
Most people live at home for at least a few months after graduating from college. My magic number was six. Most people I know lasted closer to a year. The best plan is to move back in, get settled at work, save up some scratch, then start looking for a place with a few friends. Enjoy the amenities and the parental affection for as long as it lasts but make absolutely sure to start scoping out neighborhoods and new opportunities when the winds start to change. My personal coup de grace was to move just a few subway stops away, just far enough to avoid going to the store but close enough to still drop my laundry off on weekends and pop by for a free meal on the way home from the office. I thus managed to escape the vitamin deficiencies that almost crippled some of my friends while maintaining the freedom to drink, smoke, and debauch my young years away. Ahhh, the best of both worlds: the fairies without the Costanzas.
For more tips, check out Gradspot Editor-in-Chief Chris Schonberger’s column "Mommy, I’m Home!” on Forbes.com.