When you hear the word “boomerang,” you might think of the fun you had playing with the Nerf version in the ’80s. Or you might have a flashback from the scene in Mad Max 2 where a guy gets a frontal lobotomy with a steel one. Whether you usually lean toward seeing a half-full or half-empty glass may determine how you see the latest iteration of the boomerang: young adults returning home to live with their parents after college graduation. To help you look on the bright side of things, here are 12 benefits of moving back in with Mom and Dad that you may not have considered.
Both single parents and adult children can enjoy better health by not living alone. Although researchers cannot say with certainty whether it’s due to the isolation and lack of social contact, the eating and sleeping habits particular to people that live alone, or some other factor, many studies have shown that mental health is worse for people who live by themselves. For example, those that live with someone else are less likely to take antidepressants, and for seniors, their risk of heart disease could be as much as half that of people who live alone.
One of the silver linings in the cloud of the poor economy is that moving back home has become the norm. Whereas boomeranging was once so frowned upon that very few people found the rewards worth the social disgrace, nearly one-third of young adults are doing it now and more than half know a friend who has done so. Because it is so helpful financially and because it was a silly cultural quirk in the first place, this enlightened viewpoint is a positive development.
As a college student, you probably ate out 90% of the time or more. But now that you’re back at home, you’ll have access to home-cooked food that not only will be tasty and free, it can lower your risk of cancer. According to Rachel Brandeis of the American Dietetic Association, “The more you eat in, the more you can control and the healthier your plate is going to be. I wish people would think that when they are eating, they could be lowering their cancer risk.”
Mark Twain once said, “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished by how much he’d learned in seven years.” A recent study by the Pew Research Center found more boomerang kids said their relationship with their parents had improved as a result of moving back home. After four years apart, it could be a perfect time for parents to see first-hand the maturation a child has gone through and establish a new, adult relationship that is less authoritarian and more friendly.
Instead of focusing on the negative, Mom and Dad should look at returning adult offspring as a blessing in disguise. Since they hold all the cards, parents can make help with chores like laundry, grocery shopping, weed pulling, and lawn mowing part of the “lease agreement.” According to the Pew study, helping with chores is something nearly all boomerang kids claim to do, so if yours is not pitching in, tell him or her to get with the program.
According to Beni Towers Kawakita, a career center advisor at Illinois State University, “Many of our students are from the Chicago area, and with the cost of living being higher, they want to be doing jobs that they’re going to really be enjoying.” Living at home can ease the financial burden, which then lessens the urgency for graduates to take the first job that comes along and wait for one they will truly enjoy.
Presumably you’re looking for a job if you’ve moved back home. If so, and if you have a poor memory or underwhelming writing skills, enlist your parents for help recalling accomplishments and participation in clubs, teams, and groups that can buff up a resume. And before you send off that personal statement, take advantage of the one or two additional sets of eyes you now have access to for help with editing.
The average student loan debt for college graduates is now more than $25,000, meaning boomerangers are typically concerned with paying off loans before saving. A 2012 survey found that people ages 18-34 are the least likely group of Americans to save for retirement, with over half saying they are not contributing to a 401(k) or IRA. But any financial advisor will stress in no uncertain terms the importance of starting to save early, and any savings a boomeranger can afford to put away thanks to living at home are extremely important.
Living at home frees you up to have time to volunteer, do freelance work, or take classes. But you could also demonstrate to a potential boss how living with your parents helped you cooperate with others (with whom you may not have a great relationship) and taught you the value of teamwork or discipline. With the right approach, living at home could become an experience that strongly impresses a potential employer.
Being unemployed with an uncertain future is an extremely stressful place to be. Moving back home provides a setting that has been shown to lower stress. A 2008 study at Brigham Young University found that working moms who ate supper with their families were able to lower stress and tension. Although the effect was less pronounced for dads, the evidence is there that the quiet conversation and emotional bonding that happens around the dinner table can be like soup for the soul.