“So where are you living now?”

It’s a dreaded question that recent graduates try to avoid at all costs. And you can never know when it will come up: often at church, in the grocery store with an old acquaintance, or even worse, during your visits to see still-in-college friends at your alma mater.

“I’m back home temporarily as I try to figure things out for now.”

That seems like a safe enough answer.

But what happens when temporary doesn’t feel… well, as temporary as you’d expected?  The glow of your recently-framed diploma has receded and at some point, the congratulatory conversations have been replaced by “now what?” questions.

It’s undeniable that the person who politely asked the question is thinking, that even with that degree…

…you are back living at home.

“My mom told me leaving is not the hard part, it’s coming back,” 23-year old TinibiteTamiru said.  She moved back home with her parents last year after graduating from the University of Virginia.

“The hardest part has been trying to explain to family members and people from my past what my plans are. I have to be able to justify my time at home.”

Tamiru is not alone. A recent study by the research firm, Twentysomething Inc. showed that 85 percent of college graduates are heading home. There are thousands of graduates with both undergraduate and graduate degrees who are looking to the roost as a place to start.

The high unemployment rate among our college graduates (18.1 percent for 16 to 24 year olds, according to Department of Labor Statistics) is an obvious reason, but even for those with jobs, staying at home can be a cost-effective way to save money early in their careers.

“There are no jobs, we have loans and nowhere to go” Nayla Jones, a 2009 graduate from a top-tier school said. “Though I felt like a failure at the time, going home really helped me learn to get on my feet.”

“YOU’RE LIVING UNDER WHOSE ROOF?”

Though financially beneficial, a big issue that comes up early when moving home is re-negotiating your relationship with your parents, some who automatically return to the routine and rules from when you last lived at home.

“It’s been a learning process for both of us,” Tamiru said of her relationship with her parents. “I came back with the assumption that it would be the same rules as college. I could eat dinner at midnight, or go out at one and come back at five.”

It wasn’t until her father had a one-on-one her that she realized that things in the house had to be different and she had to re-adjust.

“I realized an exchange of respect had to happen,” she said.

For Jones, who recently moved out in August after two years, the adjustment was necessary.

“It was rough for everyone, but the move home was one of my best decisions,” she said. “Stay positive, because you will move out. And it feels great when you do.”

Having to explain coming home after 2 a.m. or the constant “we are worried where your life is headed” conversations can be tiresome. Here are ways to make the process smoother for everyone involved:

Carve out a piece of your own world: In high school, though barely, your parents had the right to know everything. Now, it’s a little different. Be firm about your personal space, as it may take them some time to adjust to it. This is especially necessary when dating.

Respect the owner of the house: Even though you maybe newly grown, you are still in your parents’ house. They have rules and they need to be respected. If breaking them is likely, have a sit down and negotiate boundaries with them BEFORE any incidents pop off.

Save that money: You do not have to pay rent, food, laundry or likely even for the car. Use this time with whatever job you have to put money aside. You’ll never have an opportunity to save this much ever again.

Do things on your own: It’s tempting to ask mom and dad for help here and there. But try to avoid this to show them that your move into the real world is not just signified by a degree, but in action too. Doing so will avoid “I told you so’s” and resentment from both ends.

Be grateful: Sometimes it can um…slip…that you can’t wait to get your own place and be gone.  But show how grateful you are by helping out around the house when possible. It’ll also help keep the peace.

If you have moved home recently, what’s the experience been like? What steps have you taken to cope?

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