I’ll be honest: moving back in with my parents after 4 years of living independently with no rules and with my friends was not my plan after college. My plan was to live the twenty-something dream – find a cute, little apartment (IKEA-furnished, obviously) in the trendy part of town, acquire a badass, grownup job at a nationally-renowned marketing agency (that would probably have an office dog), and own a wine rack that was constantly full (thanks to the money from my killer job).
Unfortunately, it seems that, for most college grads, the twenty-something dream is just that – a dream. After my job search yielded exactly zero results, the apartment search only turned up options that were way out of my budget or way out of my comfort zone, and the roommates ended up finding other options, it was time to stop denying the inevitable fact that moving home with my mom and dad was the most sensible, though entirely uncool, option.
But while I initially felt embarrassed to be living with my mom and dad again, I’ve got to say that it turned out to be not all bad. In fact, once I changed my approach to the situation, it turned out to be pretty great.
So perhaps you’ve just graduated and moved back home or you’re planning to once your lease is up. If you are dreading it the way I was, consider trying out some of the approaches that worked for me.
1. Clean Out Your Bedroom
All those pictures of you and your friends at Homecoming freshman year of high school crowding your mirror; Your prominently displayed CD collection; The necklaces you haven’t worn since 2002 that are still hung up on the wall; These are all things that have to go, although you don’t need to throw them away, per se. Take some time to have a walk down memory lane as you pack up your goodies from the good old days and store them in the back of your closet. Once your room is a clean slate, you won’t wake up every morning feeling like you’re 15 again.
Pro tip: anything you wouldn’t have displayed in your college bedroom/apartment/house, needs to go away.
2. Create Your Own Sanctuary
When I moved back to my parents house, we had a guest bedroom that was pretty bare and went unused all but once every 4 years or so. I also just so happened to have a lot of furniture from my rental house that needed somewhere to go. Rather than pay for a storage unit or cram my futon, lamps, and coffee tables into my parents overflowing garage, my mom helped me move some stuff into the guest bedroom. What began as an empty space down the hall became my own personal living room. It was the perfect place to watch Netflix and drink wine in peace.
If your parents don’t have a lot of spare space at their place, try at least finding a corner of your bedroom where you can set up a special nook to enjoy some reading, video streaming, or just stumbling around the Internet. Spruce up the area with a side table, a lamp, a plant, and a scented candle to make the space feel special.
Pro tip: my parents and I had sort of an unspoken agreement that when I was in “my living room,” it was my time. Try negotiating some privacy, especially when you’re in your own little sanctuary.
3. Stay with Friends
This one isn’t a do-it-yourself piece of advice, but it’s helpful nonetheless.
Connect with friends in town or make new ones that might let you crash with them from time to time. Because nobody wants to take a drunk cab home to their parents’ house…
In all seriousness, it can be nice to spend significant time with friends your own age. One of my favorite parts about my college living arrangement was hanging out with my roommate at home, whether we were drinking coffee in the morning before class, getting ready to go out, or just hanging around on the couch. Staying over with a friend after a fun night out (or even in!) can be reminiscent of the good old college days.
Pro tip: if you can afford it, buy yourself an air mattress. That way, if your friends don’t have a guest bedroom or a comfortable couch, you can set up camp wherever there’s floor space. Plus, a good air mattress is just a good life investment.
4. Get a Job – Or At Least a Hobby
Get a job; easier said than done, right? It took me 3 months of job searching before finding my first job out of college, and consequently, it took me about 3 months before I was content with living at home. For the first several months I spent at home, I didn’t do much besides send job application emails and hang out at my parents house – it was really depressing. If I could go back and give myself one piece of advice, it would be to get a part-time job or a hobby. Anything that gets you out of the house for several hours every day does wonders for your sanity. Once I found my job, I went from feeling like a couch potato slob to an adult getting started in life.
Pro tip: Can’t find a job? Try volunteering, taking classes at your local gym, or, at the very least, taking your laptop to the nearest coffee shop to scroll through Tumblr instead of on you parents’ couch.
5. Focus on Your Savings Account
If your parents aren’t charging you rent, man do you rack in money! Even if your parents plan to charge you rent to move back in, it will likely be cheaper than most, if not all, apartments and rental homes available. Once you’ve found work, keep your eye on the prize by watching your bank account grow a little with each paycheck. Do some math and figure out exactly how much money you need to move out on your own. Once you’ve got that number in mind, you can focus on the end goal when times get rough.
Pro tip: If you get any money for graduation, pay off any immediate debts and then put it into your savings account and leave it. It’ll give you a head start on your move-out goal amount.
6. Remember That The Twenty-Something Dream is Still Out There
I did my time with my parents, and I’ve been living out in the world without them for about a year now, and aside from the IKEA furniture and the dog-friendly workplace (don’t worry – I’ve got wine), I’d say I’m living the twenty-something dream! As much as it feels like you’re throwing away the best years of your life by moving back home, they’ll be there waiting for you when you’re ready and able to make it on your own.