A boomerang kid is a young adult who goes back to live with a parent after a period of independence. That period of independence is usually after four or fives years in college. However, it seems like boomerang kids are occurring more and more, especially since the pandemic began.
Having a boomerang kid live with you after college is bad because it means the kid couldn’t turn four or more years of study and potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in college expenses into a job that pays enough for the kid to be independent.
Unfortunately, with record high tuition prices, record high student debt, and a devaluation of a college degree, boomerang kids are becoming more common place now. This article discusses how to prevent boomerang kids from coming back home so you can have your peace and sanity!
So Many Boomerang Kids In San Francisco
After taking over 500 long walks around my San Francisco neighborhood since 2014, all the adult kids still living at home are men. Within a four block radius, I often see between 4-6 adult young men waving goodbye to their moms or washing their cars in their parents’ driveway.
This observation worries me because I have a son. I want him to feel the joy of independence well before he’s 30 years old. There is no better feeling than standing on your two feet and making it on your own. If he still lives at home playing video games all day into his 20s, as a father, I will feel like a complete failure.
How To Prevent Boomerang Kids From Coming Home
- Set expectations. Tell them early that you will not be providing them shelter in your house after college. Tell them that the whole point of college is to learn, gain skills, and figure out how to be an independent adult. Once someone turns 18, they are an adult. Therefore, they have at least four years after official adulthood to get their stuff together.
- Don’t feel guilty. We sometimes are held hostage by anger, disappointment or fear of what will happen if we don’t bail them out. Children are very good at pushing those buttons to make us feel responsible for their happiness and emotional well-being. Instead, turn that guilt back on them. Ask them how they could impose these new expenses after 22 years of taking care of them already. Tell them about how it builds good character to live on their own and find their own independence. Highlight their childhood peers who are doing just fine on their own.
- Don’t make excuses. The adult children may claim their boss doesn’t like them or they’re not happy with their work and want to jump ship. They don’t need to come home to do that. Boomerang kids can find a new job while continuing to work. Or they can go to school part time to get new skills. They can always sleep on their friend’s coach if they need to. There are now pod living spaces that rent you a bed and have common areas for pretty cheap.
- Make them present to you a plan. Adult children will claim they need to stay for only a short time while they save for a down payment or get back on their feet. They usually come in with a goal. Then they get in the door and are not saving any money” or making any changes. Stop this by demanding a written plan with goals and deadlines. If you are an adult child, then you can also make a plan to convince your parents to pay for everything as an adult.
- Stay firm and make threats. If your adult child successfully convinced you to take them in, and still won’t move out months or years later, you’ve got to threaten eviction. Set a move-out deadline. No matter what happens remind them 60 days out, and then 30 days out, that you are holding firm.
- Make them pay rent and do house chores. If they want free shelter as an adult, then they must contribute to the well-being of your household. Make rules and make them pay rent. Make them clean the house, clean the yard, and be the house manager. Get your money’s worth!
- Don’t worry about their survival. It is highly unlikely they are going to end up on the streets doing drugs. Their survival mode will kick in and they will find a way to make ends meet. After all, you raised them for at least 18 years. There are plenty of ways to make legal money nowadays online.
Why Boomerang Kids Happen
Let’s be honest. Boomerang kids happen because of too much coddling and care taking by parents. Parents never allowed their kids to fail. As a result, the kids started expecting to always be taken care of.
Here’s what one Financial Samurai reader had to say on my post, Child Millionaires No More!
I graduated William & Mary in 2018 with no student debt thanks to the school’s extremely generous financial aid package. I essentially got a full ride from federal state and school grants combined since my parents made very little money – we’re immigrants.
For me, a college education was a great privilege. I could not take it lightly so I worked my butt off. By the time my little brother started attending college, my parents had been working so hard to save enough money for his education and even buying a house. I’m very proud of them. I appreciate everything they had done.
However, I notice that my little brother thinks of college as an obligation, not a privilege. He’s going to school to please my parents. His indifferent attitude really irks me at times so I agree with you completely when you said handing someone everything will demoralize their work ethic and motivation.
I tried to get my lil brother to work a summer job so he knows how hard it is to earn money and appreciate what our parents are doing for him, but both him and my parents do not really like that idea. I wish there’s something I can do to change his mindset.
It’s really important to stop the coddling, especially boys and young men. The reason why there aren’t so many adult women children living at home is partially due to the lack of coddling. It is also partially due to women moving in with men. And it is partially because women are dominating the college education scene so they are earning more and becoming more financially independent quicker.
Use Real Estate As A Hedge Against Boomerang Kids
If you just can’t prevent your coddled kids from boomeranging back home to live with you, then your only solution to trying to maintain your own independence is to own another piece of real estate for your kids to manage or live in.
The key is to NOT TELL THEM that you have other real estate. Only surprise them with this information once you know they have failed to launch and you can’t take their mooching anymore.
Once your boomerang kid has shelter, theoretically, he or she will be able to pursue his or her dreams with vigor and become whoever they want to be. The downside is that they might take the free living for granted and slack off more!
Real estate could really be a hedge against disappointing kids, through perhaps no fault of your own or their own.
Why Real Estate Is Good For Preventing Boomerang Kids From Coming Back
1) Your kid slacked off in school.
Let’s say your kid did poorly in school because he was not pushed to study. As a result, he’s unable to get a job that pays enough for him to live on his own. You wish you had been more present in your kid’s life growing up, but you had a demanding job or simply wanted to slack off yourself. Having real estate saves your son from living on the streets.
2) Your kid is simply not very intelligent.
The law of averages dictates that most of us will have average intelligence. But some of us, through no fault of our own, will simply have below average intelligence. If you combine below average intelligence with poor judgement, you might get into some serious trouble.
For example, growing up I consistently demonstrated poor judgement by hanging out with the wrong crowd. We smoked, drank, shoplifted, drove without driver’s licenses, fought, you name it, we did it. As a result, we got into trouble at school and with the law. Luckily I had already gotten into a decent university before I got into more serious trouble. I decided to do my best in college and was given a second chance by a woman named Kim Purkiss whom I will never forget. Thank you Kim!
I could have easily ended up living at home with my parents, working minimum wage jobs for the rest of my life if it wasn’t for my lucky breaks. As you can tell from my writing, I have very average intelligence. And I already shared with y’all that my SAT score was mediocre in a previous post.
3) Your kid has a disability that makes life more difficult.
We have a neighbor who has a daughter with severe cerebral palsy. She is confined to a wheelchair and needs care 24/7. Bless her and her parents.
While they do not live in the house next door full-time, their 29 year-old-son who cannot find a full-time job does. They come to visit three times a week to water their plants and clean the house. They live about an hour away in a larger house that’s all on one floor in order to be wheelchair friendly.
I pray that none of us ever gets into a debilitating accident. But if we do, hopefully, we’ll have a stable home to come home to.
4) You get a divorce.
If you can get a piece of property in a divorce, you’ll be OK. But for some couples, only one may get the house because there might only be one house in the portfolio. The person who doesn’t get the house may have a much more difficult time surviving.
One person I know has had to move three times in the past five years because her ex-husband got the property. Sure, she got some investment assets, but it was not enough to cover all her living expenses without a serious drawdown.
Their son, at one time, used to be able to commute just three blocks between his parents’ respective apartments. Now, he needs to spend an hour to get to his mother’s place because she’s had to move to a cheaper location. After not working a full-time job for 13 years, she has had difficulty covering her basic living expenses with freelance work.
Financial freedom does not grant a happy marriage. There are a couple famous personal finance bloggers that have gotten a divorce before.
5) You or your child becomes depressed at work.
Sooner or later, we all lose interest in our jobs. But most of us have to gut it out due to a lack of alternative income streams. Quitting your job to become a travel blogger or an artist is probably not going to pay the bills for the first several years, if ever.
However, if you owned a portfolio of rental properties, you might easily hire your melancholy son or daughter to manage them for you. What a gift to be able to throw them a lifeline. By giving them an important responsibility that you may no longer want, you could create a win-win situation – a sense of pride for your child, more leisure time for yourself.
Heck, even you might get depressed at work too. If you had a large enough rental property portfolio which could pay for all your living expenses, you could decide to retire early, become a part-time property manager, and do something you’ve always wanted to do.
Love Your Kids, But Not Too Hard
Of course as parents, we want what’s best for our kids. Some of us even become generous Bank Of Mom And Dads when our kids are well into adulthood.
But often times, what’s best is not giving everything they want. Our kids must learn to suffer for them to grow and appreciate what they have.
Remember this key motto: When in doubt, kick them out! May your kids find the glory of being independent people.
About the Author: Sam worked in investing banking for 13 years at GS and CS. He received his undergraduate degree in Economics from The College of William & Mary and got his MBA from UC Berkeley. In 2012, Sam was able to retire at the age of 34 largely due to his investments that now generate roughly $250,000 a year in passive income, most recently helped by real estate crowdfunding. He spends most of his time playing tennis and taking care of his two-year old, who still lives at home with him. Financial Samurai was started in 2009 and is one of the most trusted personal finance sites on the web with over 1.5 million pageviews a month.