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Back to the nest

More and more college grads are moving back in with Mom and Dad.

Sarah Hill May 11th, 2011

Someone, somewhere has surely said, “Never move back home with your parents.”

Gracie and Matt Montgomery
Credits: Mark Hancock

Quite possibly, that utterance can be interpreted in cave drawings. Or maybe it’s instinctual? But who listens to their instincts?

I, Sarah Hill, am a recent college graduate. And I live with my parents. Hello, everyone. I’m happy to be here at the NCGSG (New College Graduate Support Group). I heard about you guys from the architecture major from Yale down the street and from my friend who graduated in marketing. They’re all living at home with degrees in the closet, placed next to their favorite stuffed childhood friend.

There really could be an entire support group full of us, maybe even a fair! I’m not the only one whose housemates currently consist of Mom and Pop. Take Emily Saunders, a May 2010 graduate who has set her launch date for the summer.

For others, the time back in the nest is open-ended.

“No departure date has been set,” said Gracie Montgomery, parent, boss and housemate of her son, Matt Montgomery, who has been living at home for two years.

Since graduating from the University of Oklahoma in 2008, he’s been working full-time for his parents’ company. Like most, he moved home to look for work.

“He wants a media relations job, and is having a hard time finding one,” his mom said. “He has definitely been an asset to the company, and we’ll miss him when he finds his ‘dream job.’” May 2010 graduate Elizabeth Deighton landed a job after graduation, but is saving money and avoiding a rushed decision while she looks for a place to live.

“You’re lucky if you get a job right when you graduated,” she said. “None of my friends were so lucky. I can see it would be tough if you didn’t have a job, and your parents wouldn’t let you go home.”

New graduates spend months in unpaid or underpaid internship positions, sometimes never to be hired.

Who pays the tab for most of the living expenses when the graduates work for free? The parents.

Home might be a better option after all. There’s “no rent, gas is paid for, food is paid for and you have home-cooked meals,” Saunders said, but as for downsides, “There’s not much privacy, not much motivation to go out … (due to my parents’) rules.”

Ah, going out. How do you act like a single adult when Mom is waiting up? “Being single (at home) has definitely made dating almost nonexistent.

It’s tough to invite someone you’re trying to date back to your parents’ house to hang out,” said Matt Montgomery.

To be fair, the parents didn’t really see this one coming, either.

“I expected her to get a fulltime job and find her own apartment,” said Diane Saunders, mother and housemate of Emily.

“I thought he’d get a job right out of college,” said Mom Montgomery. “We don’t want him to rush into something.”

But questions still remain. If the back-at-home grads don’t have a job, should they be held responsible for paying for things?

Emily Saunders runs errands, cleans the house and does the dishes to compensate for her lack of monetary donation to the mortgage.

“I used to do the dishes before, but split the time with my siblings. Now I do them alone,” she said.

Although Deighton’s mom still does most of the housework, the mom-and-daughter duo elaborated on the importance of contributing to the household.

“Parents who cradle their kids by giving them everything create a problem in society,” said Mary Deighton. “None of them know how to save. They don’t know what it means to work for something. If the parents are paying for everything, it’s misleading.”

Added Elizabeth Deighton, “If they treat their kids like children, they need to learn it’s only hurting them. I’ve, for a while, paid for most of everything I can. My generation already has a complex about wanting everything now. Everyone our age has a problem with gadgets and with buying electronics they can’t afford.”

This complicated issue rings true with 20-somethings and their parents all over the place. In many circumstances, if you just graduated college and want to land a career, there aren’t many options other than heading back to home base.

If you are a new graduate living at home, an almost-graduate eyeing the nest, or if you’re a parent finding yourself taking care of a graduate, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone.

In fact, you’re part of a growing breed.

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