From Our Readers

I'm Afraid to Boomerang

Some refer to us as the “boomerang” generation. As twenty-somethings in this economy, many of us have had to face the tough decision of whether or not to return to the nest after graduating from college. In many ways, it is a practical and budget-friendly option — no rent, no bills, free meals — the list goes on. Recent graduates moving home are much more common in our generation (three in ten, according to a recent PEW study) than in our parents generation.

There are several benefits that could make moving home worthwhile. It can even be a fresh start if you’re stuck in a rut. Like living rent-free? Want to make your bills disappear? Love free meals? Want laundry service? Chez Mom and Dad is the place for you! Sounds pretty great, huh?

Now, if you want to move home, more power to you. But moving in with mama bird and papa bird is one of my greatest fears. I’ve blogged about this before, but that hasn’t alleviated my stress. Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents. I love going home for a weekend and getting a little spoiled, but I’m afraid of turning into the bum in the basement. I worry about boomeranging a lot and I’m always thinking of more reasons that I don’t want to.

There are many social stigmas attached to moving home, which are only perpetuated by the media. Recently, McDonald’s came out with an ad where the main character who has just moved home to sleep in his childhood bunk bed refers to his new place as a “loft” to conceal the fact that it is actually his parents’ home. For years, Hollywood has been portraying a character who moves home as a screw-up who lives in the basement, plays video games all day, and can’t have a successful relationship (think: The Wedding Singer; Jeff, Who Lives at Home). (For the record, I get called Julia Gulia ALL THE TIME. And I love it.).

Other reasons that I’m afraid of moving home include:

  • getting fat from my mother’s delicious cooking
  • tumbling down the Pinterest black hole
  • running out of tv shows to watch on Netflix
  • starting to drink at 10 a.m. with Kathie Lee and Hoda
  • forgetting the last time I left the house
  • developing bed sores
  • becoming a cat lady
  • getting too used to the simple pleasures
  • forgetting how to interact with society and turning into a mole-person

With my career ambitions of being an editor, I know that I will probably have to move away from the good ol’ mitten. So I enjoy the time that I can spend at home with mom and dad whenever I can. But living at home doesn’t fit into my success.

Everyone has their own idea of success. Living at home and being in limbo between jobs gives me incredible anxiety. My hard work ethic and self-definition of success includes a happy life with a job that I love (among other things). I’m not naïve — I know that having that successful life takes work. I’m willing to climb the ladder.

Above all, I’m afraid of losing my independence. I’ve worked hard to get where I am. Last summer was my first summer away from home and my greatest leap toward independence. Sometimes independence sucks, but I wouldn’t give mine up for the world.

Have any of you moved home? How did you feel going into it? Do you have any tips to avoid boomeranging? Or any advice for how to cope with boomeranging? Does anyone know of someone else who will do my laundry for free?

Feature image via.

You can read more from Julia Fellows here.

  • Kelsey Taylor

    I don’t live with my parents, but I WISH I DID. The only reason I don’t is because I moved in with my boyfriend, and that’s going very well (except for the fact that I have a minimum wage job and am STILL IN college… so I can’t afford anything). I am constantly stressing out about money problems, and I am always cleaning, cooking, doing chores and doing my college coursework. I have a feeling it would be much nicer if I weren’t in school (therefore more time to keep the place up and make more money), but I am extremely jealous of those who have the opportunity to move back in with their parents. So, just saying from an outsider’s perspective. I think it depends on the person’s situation. If you have a nice job and have no reason to move back in with the ‘rents, then don’t! If you’re struggling and need a little lift, move it back in!

  • Freya H Dub

    I’m the exact same way!!! I had to move home for one year after college and it drove me nuts. However, my parents didn’t let me live there for free haha which was probably the best. Don’t worry, I don’t think moving home for any amount of time is a bad thing, unless it’s like 5-20 years. Take a break if you need to, you know your mom wants someone to fuss over :)

  • Kristen Marie Byers

    I was terrified of this happening to me, too. I am proud to say that I never lived with my parents for more than a few weeks at a time once I moved out at age 18. I don’t really consider it “living” with them — it was more like “staying” with them during breaks from college and for 2 weeks post-graduation as I prepared to take the plunge and move to California (jobless, I might add).

    I suppose my advice to not boomerang would be to force yourself not to. Maybe that sounds easier than it actually is. By making such a huge cross-country move without a job lined up beforehand, the pressure was definitely on for me to find a full-time job FAST. What’s the worst that could happen — you boomerang anyway? Better to have tried and failed, I say.

  • Sheila O’Loughlin

    I had to move home about a month ago. I was also very anxious but when someone calls/texts you every monday to ask what you want at the grocery store, you feel better. Anyway, my situation is temporary until some major renovations are done on my new home. The light at the end of the tunnel helps. I am looking forward to not having two people asking where I’m going everytime I leave the house.

  • Lily Fryer

    I moved home into my childhood bedroom across the hall from my sister…WITH MY HUSBAND…yeah..interesting to say the least. (Read more on that awkwardness at But seriously, the flexibility I had to save money and have help proofreading resumes etc.. help me so much. I ended up getting my dream job and my husband got accepted into an amazing grad program. We were about to buy the new car we desperately needed without compromising a rent payment and now we’re looking for a place of our own. It’s not ideal, but I’ve learned endless lessons about patience and teamwork – a necessary huge step forward in my character from my self-consumed college years.

  • Johanna Sch

    I moved back home a year ago, and it was a good decision; I love having my support system around me, and it is definitely nice to live rent-free. I am our cleaning lady, and I cook dinner for everyone 5 days of the week, plus help with laundry, groceries, etc, so I’m not leeching off my parents or anything. The worst part is having to listen to my brother have sex veeery loudly next door, but he’s moving out in a few weeks, so that’ll change.
    I definitely get your anxiety: I just graduated and really want to find a job, and even though our economy here in Germany is supposedly doing well, it’s proving tough going. And I did notice that I turned into more of a bed-sitting, series-watching hermit whilst being here, but for me, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. I think everything is a choice, so I could be more social, and I could go out more, but you know, I am just so happy being at home, I don’t really want to.
    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to yelling at the Olympics on TV with the fam :)

  • Margo D. Burns

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  • Lyndsay ‘Hunt’ Boettcher

    Hey Julia! This is a great article! I don’t really have any advice (I got married right out of college, and then we moved halfway across the country), but I do work in publishing. What kind of editor do you want to be? There are so many kinds! I currently work for McGraw-Hill Education, but I’ve also worked at a small consumer goods publishing company. What are you really interested in about editing? Do you want to be a curator, choosing the best articles/novels/content? Do you want to be a technical editor, making sure all grammar and spelling is correct, and then making sure the requested correction was made properly? Do you want to be an editor who also writes (or who mainly writes)? There are so many options, but tailoring your experience to the type of editor you’d like to be. For myself, I thought I wanted to be an editor. But, it turns out that I actually like project management and detail-oriented data analysis much better. My current role has a tiny bit of editing, but is mainly project management. Also, this skill set and my interest in technology has helped me to leverage my skills into technology project management, which is endlessly interesting.

    • Julia Fellows

      Thanks, Lyndsay! This is really cool! Ideally, I’d love to work at an indie press or a small press (working with books) where I can do a little bit of everything. While that broadens my options a bit, I have still found in my research (a very small amount) that they tend to congregate closer to big metropolis cities. If I had to pick, though, I would like to do developmental editing. I really like the idea of helping authors shape their stories. I do have a little experience in project management from my classes, so perhaps that would be something I would be interested in! And, of course, I’d love the opportunity to keep writing, as well.

      • Lyndsay ‘Hunt’ Boettcher

        With technology being what it is, I don’t think a publishing company would mind interviewing someone over Skype or Google Chat or another video teleconference line. Basically, I think you should apply to whatever jobs you see in whatever cities you are interested in living in. It’s true, though, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Boston are some of the hubs for publishing. I would like to set your expectations for salary, too. I don’t think it hurts. As a fresh face out of college, I would expect that your starting salary would be in the $30,000s. Maybe if you’re living in NYC or another city with high cost of living, they might bump it up to the $40,000s, but I would doubt it, based on my experience. Another type of internship that I found incredibly helpful was a communications intern at a non-profit company. This would be something that you could easily do in your current city. Good luck! :)

  • Margo D. Burns

    I had to move back home because I graduated with a Psychology degree and couldn’t get a job. I moved out for 6 months but with rent and insurance and the cost of gas I could barely afford to eat. Now I am going to school working towards my EMT-I and so far this is the only path I have found that could give me freedom from my parents house and cause I am going to school still I only have a part-time student job until I get a job in the EMS field.

  • Julia Fellows

    For those of you who have moved home, did you set any limits for yourself? How did you prevent yourself from “reverting back to high school?”

  • Melissa K. Nodurft

    In may, I graduated from college…jobless. I put in the time and effort for months, but none of my interviews turned into jobs. When I first moved home, I was pretty self-conscious. I was also unfortunately comfortable with being there. I put a lot of energy into applying for jobs, but I basically did nothing else. Grocery shopping with mom was the big event of the week. I think that is actually what helped me want to get out of the house. I worked really hard on applying and interviewing. It paid off! I’ve been working full-time in my field for about a month. I really think the important part is remembering that you don’t want to stay home, and you deserve better. I saved money while I didn’t have an income, and I didn’t settle for underemployment to avoid unemployment. But I got out when I found the right opportunity. As long as you are looking for the right opportunity, you won’t be hurting yourself by moving home.

  • Bethany Hawkins

    I moved back in with my father and his wife and ALL of her kids about a month ago. Crazy teenagers and a toddler EVERYWHERE. I am still in college. But I hated the school I was going to and my first choice school (ALWAYS listen to your heart. I chose my first school because my best friends were going there) was only a half hour away from my dad. After stretching to make rent every month last year this is already so much easier. At first I felt like a failure. But when I feel like that I remind myself that this way I don’t have to work retail and fight for homework time. I can take those extra 2 classes per semester that will let me graduate in less time. This summer, only taking one online history class, I may have watched every original sy-fy orignal series as well as most of the History Channel line up… but that’s ok. I may be spending 5 or more hours on tv.. but hey, they are kind of educational.. good post!

  • Serena Martina Doherty

    Personally I wouldn’t throw away money because I couldn’t assert my independence at home.
    I moved back home after graduating which has allowed me to do internships but I maintain much of my own independence including cooking, cleaning and supporting as much as possible. However, this was my relationship with my parents before I went to University.
    Most people struggle because they regress so if you choose to move home you need to return as an adult in the household rather than a child. By contributing and having boundaries, it will at least give you stuff to do. If you are usually independent but can’t help regress at home, you may need to priorities future financial stability or current independence.
    I think motivation can be hard but it gave me a life balance, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to have a social life whatsoever. It may help to team up with other boomerangers to get out of the house and stay productive and not to fear there are plenty around.
    Good post, glad to know I’m not alone.

  • Nafisah Atcha

    I know the feeling. I have just had to move back home after graduating because I am going in to another year of education. The place where I will be studying is only a short train ride away (20mins) so it made more financial sense to stay with my parents. I love it but I am very conscious about my own independence. There is a lack of part jobs where I am atm. I am very aware that I do not want my parents paying for things that I call luxuaries and I am already thinking of ways to save up for them myself. At the end of my studies I do plan to move cities so I plan to move away. I personally have no idea how easy this will be (saving up for a flat or house is different to uni accommodation) All in all, I understand the need for it and don’t judge people for it but personally I prefer my own flat.

  • Joaquin Gaitán

    Hmm… I, on the other hand, got a house, and after my father’s passing had my mom move in. Not sure what you call that, lol.

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