8 Survival Tips for Living With Your Parents

Young woman angry with mother

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Hannah Berman
Hannah Berman175

It’s every young adult’s nightmare — moving back in with the ‘rents. You’ve heard the horror stories, and you still shiver to think of that crush from high school who moved back in with his parents, never got his act together and is probably still sitting on his basement couch right now, eyes glued to The Great British Baking Show, fingers coated in Cheeto dust. 

Maybe you’re making the move because of limp job opportunities, you can’t stand having yet another roommate or you can’t find a place of your own with affordable rent. Whatever the reason, you’re back home, and you’re desperate for help surviving the tyranny of your loving parents.

8 Survival Tips for Living With Your Parents

1. Set boundaries.

This may be their house, but you’re an adult now, and you need to set boundaries to ensure that you and your parents maintain a civil relationship. Sometimes that will mean requesting to miss some family meals or to make your own coffee in the morning — or possibly just asking for your own personal space. 

2. Pay your way.

Ah, the age-old question: who’s paying? The answer: you should be. As a boarder in someone else’s home, you should demonstrate your gratitude by chipping in monetarily. Rent should be negotiated depending on your financial status, but it should still be forked over, even if the gesture is merely symbolic.

3. Reframe rules.

Perhaps in high school, you were forced to keep a curfew. Obviously, this rule is now outdated; however, your parents aren’t likely to take kindly to you returning to the house at all hours of the night. You can compromise by reframing the rule: when you go out, instead of establishing a new curfew, just let your parents know what time you’ll return.

4. Take on responsibilities.

As a sign of your increased maturity, show your parents that you are ready to help contribute to the household. Ask them how you can help out — homeownership is difficult, and any amount of help will be greatly appreciated. Take the trash out, pay the phone bill and pick up your younger siblings from school occasionally. 

5. Write down a contract.

 In order to protect both you and your parents from friction, psychologists recommend creating a contract. Writing down exactly what you all expect from this living situation can be helpful to make sure both parties are upholding their promises.

6. Establish a timeline.

 Let’s be honest: everyone involved hopes this situation will be temporary. So make a plan, and try to stick to it. Setting a specific goal and a concrete timeline might be stress-inducing but ultimately will motivate you to get started with that job search. 

7. Be honest about how you’re doing.

 It’s okay — just because you set goals for yourself doesn’t mean you will be able to follow through. Cultivating an open dialogue about your search for your next step is crucial to maintaining a positive relationship with your parents. You owe it to them to warn them if your plans need to change. 

8. Stay respectful.

Everything you hated about living at home as a teenager becomes even more annoying as an adult. You might feel as if you will simply burst if your mother complains about an uncomfortable chair one more time, but as difficult as it can be, you need to check yourself: your parents are allowing you to stay here out of the goodness of their hearts. Breathe and find a way to move past your annoyance.

So, who’s still living with their parents?

In a recent study published by Zillow, researchers found that 21.7 percent of people ages 22-27 reported living with their mothers, a 9 percent increase since 2000. The Pew Research Center also conducted an analysis of census data and found that in 2016, 64 million individuals were living in multigenerational homes — that’s about 20 percent of the U.S. population. So, who are these mysterious millennials, and why are they moving back home?

People who can’t pay rent 

This uptick in multigenerational homes is likely a hangover effect of the 2008 housing market crash, a crisis which forced many American families to consolidate their ranks in a single household. Nowadays, finding a house or apartment with decent rent in a reasonable location is practically impossible on a starting salary. 

People who can’t find a job

Unemployment rates for recent college graduates have recently fallen, but the job market will always be rocky terrain for those with or without college degrees. Without a well-paying, full-time job, it’s hard to put down a mortgage. 

People with student loans

 Because of the staggering price of an education at an American university, students are taking out more and more loans. A 2012 study found that 71 percent of college graduates are in debt by the end of their four-year collegiate program. This problem affects homeownership; over 80 percent of adults aged 22-35 who do not own homes blame their existing student loans. 

Although living with one’s parents is stigmatized in today’s culture, the phenomenon is much more common than society acknowledges—so take comfort in the fact that you are not alone.

What to know before living on your own

When you’ve finally escaped your parents’ home, living on your own may seem daunting. Here are some things your parents have been doing all along that are now your responsibility.


Taxes, electrical bills, credit card bills, phone bills . . . the list can seem never-ending. Make sure to set aside time each month to pay the bills, and pay them as punctually as possible — missed payments can affect your credit score.


You’ve lived in docile cleanliness up until now, and you’ll discover quickly how much of a luxury that was. Cleaning doesn’t just mean picking up dirty clothing off the floor. Research the garbage truck schedule in your new area. Then buy a vacuum. And a mop. 

Setting a schedule.

Though you might want to run wild now that you have your own place, you should work on creating a schedule and sticking to it. Routines pave the path toward success. 

Providing for yourself.

Learning to cook for yourself is a complicated endeavor. When working with a recipe that makes more than one serving, save any excess for later. (Leftover food is almost better than fresh food because it requires less preparation time.)

The good news is that if you stay respectful of your parents and stick to your timeline, you’ll be able to make it out of your parents’ home gracefully. You don’t need to spend your remaining youth in the throes of Cheetos; with a concrete plan to make the situation livable, survival is possible.

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