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They’re Back! Five Ways to Thrive When Your Adult Children Move Home

By Shannon Lee Miller

Published September 22, 2017 • 4 Min Read

For many parents, the day a child leaves home can be bittersweet. While it may be a difficult transition, it can also be cause for many celebrations and mark the beginnings of exciting new experiences for the whole family. And just because a child spreads their wings doesn’t mean they won’t fly back home. Recent research suggests sometimes the nest doesn’t stay empty for very long.

According to a Statistics Canada study from in 2016, 42 percent of adults aged 20-29 were living with their parents. The “Boomerang Generation,” adult children who leave home only to return, appears to be growing stateside as well. A 2016 Pew Research Center analysis revealed that for the first time in more than 130 years, more 18 to 34-year-old Americans were living in their parents’ homes than with a spouse or partner in their own household.

Welcoming a “Boomerang Kid” back home may not have been a part of your retirement plan, but you, your children, and even your grandchildren can thrive under the same roof. Here are some tips that may help you get the most out of life in a not-so-empty nest:

Set Boundaries

The relationship between parent and child can have its complexities, as can the relationship between landlord and tenant. Navigating house rules, financial expectations and personal boundaries with an adult child could ruffle some feathers, especially in those moments where lines between parent and roommate may begin to blur.

Facilitating a clear conversation about what you both expect from sharing a home again may be the best way to set the stage for harmonious living.

Encourage (and Model) Financial Responsibility

Living under the same roof can be a wonderful opportunity for both parents and children to refocus on financial wellness. The Globe and Mail reported that less than 20 percent of adults ages 25-35 who participated in the 2014 Canadian Financial Capability Survey were able to answer its five key questions correctly. Including your new roommate in discussions about household budgets, managing debt, and saving could be a great way to teach them to be accountable, establish healthy habits, and plan for the future.

Reap the Benefits

Need a dog sitter while you’re cruising the Caribbean? Help stringing those holiday lights? Your new 27-year old co-tenant may cramp your style in some ways, but he or she could come in handy from time to time. In 2012, Pew Social and Demographic Trends reported that in the US, 96 percent of 18-34 year olds living at home participated in household chores.

Having a child back at home can have its financial benefits as well. According to Pew’s study of the Boomerang Generation, 89 percent of adult children have helped with everyday costs and 48 percent have paid rent.

Enjoy Your Adult Relationship

While you might have been thinking more along the lines of a weekly lunch or occasional phone call, having your child at home again can be an excellent time to discover mutual interests and re-discover your relationship as adults.

If a life event such as a divorce has brought grandchildren into the home, this can also be a chance to bond with little ones, offer extra support, and assist with childcare.

Keep Your Plans

While Baby Boomers may feel that supporting their adult children can prevent them from saving enough to reach their retirement goals, but having a child return to the roost doesn’t have to mean throwing your plans out the window.

If you had hoped to spend your retirement travelling, pursuing new interests or upgrading your home, you may want to consider following through with those intentions. Seeking the advice of a financial planner during this time could be useful in helping you develop strategies to achieve your retirement dreams while also providing support to your family. Achieving your own goals may also serve as a motivator for your child to realize their own goals.

Whether your child has come home on his or her own, with a spouse, or with children, adjusting to life under the same roof again can have its challenges, but it may also be an ideal setting in which all family members can flourish. Maintaining clear communication, establishing common financial goals, and taking time to enjoy each other’s company can help you and your “Boomerang Kid” both succeed while in the same space.

Thinking about retiring? Here are four things to consider.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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