Moving back home after uni: how to make it easier for everyone
Eight tips – from recent graduates and a parent – to help you out with this phase of graduate life.
Treat your parents as you would other adults, and it’ll be easier for them to do the same.
One minute you’re moving into halls, making a heap of new friends and starting your degree; the next (it seems) you’ve left the university bubble and you’re back in your old bedroom in your family home… assuming it hasn’t been turned into a temporary storage room/guest room/study/home gym while you’ve been away. Yep, the day has come: you’ve moved back in with your parents (or parent, or guardian).
The first thing to remember is, you’re not alone – in fact, the trend for moving back home until you get your first graduate job, or even for a year or two after that, is increasing. The percentage of young adults living with their parents in the UK has risen from just over 21% in 1996 to 26% in 2017, according to The Office for National Statistics. It's likely that this trend will continue, at least in the near future: while the Covid-19 pandemic may lead some students to avoid moving home (if, for example, their mum or dad is in the vulnerable category), for many saving money and spending this uncertain time with their parents will seem the most sensible option.
The second thing to remember, at the risk of sounding preachy, is that going back home is a privilege. Not everyone has a family home they can return to. It is however perfectly normal not to want to live with your family after you’ve experienced the freedom and independence of university. There are exceptions, such as the the 30-year old New Yorker whose parents had to take him to court to get him to leave home, but that’s another article. Here are our tips to make the most of moving back in to the family home.
1. Help your parents to not act like parents all the time
Treat your parents as you would other adults, and it’ll be easier for them to do the same. You shouldn’t have to account for your every move, but it’s sensible to let the people you live with – whoever they are – know if you plan to be out late, and reassure them that you’ll keep them in the loop if plans change. Also, don’t wait to be asked to do basic helpful things around the house, such as clearing your plate, cooking a meal, helping with the washing up or tidying up. You’ve been doing all these things independently for the last three years, so try not to revert to old habits just because you’re back home. For many students, moving away from home and gaining some distance is when they start to see their parents as people in their own right, not just caregivers. Try to keep this awareness going if you move back home. It’s inevitable that some interactions are still going to feel like those between parent and child, but you can help to make sure that not all of them do.
2. Get a job…
You may feel that finding your ideal graduate job has to take up all your time, but that’s not the case. There is definitely enough time in the day to secure a part-time job. This will make you more independent, give you some spare cash and signal to your family that you’re a money-earning, responsible adult. It will also provide you with some spending money and give you a routine, which is good for your mental wellbeing. Most likely, whatever job you do – whether it’s in retail, working in a pub or volunteering – will add skills to your CV that will impress graduate recruiters. Plus, it’ll show prospective employers that you’re proactive and independent.
3. … But when it comes to getting a full-time graduate job, don’t rush things
Once you’re in your first graduate job, it won’t matter whether it took you three months or six to get there, so don’t go for the first thing that comes up just so you can get out and into your own place as quickly as possible. If you’re lucky, you may be paying only a fraction of the rent you’d need to pay elsewhere or, even better, be living rent free, with people who have your back (even if they drive you up the wall) – so take advantage of having the proper time and space to find a graduate job that will really suit you. Try not to fall into the trap that Jake did: after studying computer science and artificial intelligence at Aberystwyth University, he was so desperate not to be living at home again that, he says, ‘The initial motivation for finding a job that I would be a good fit for or would interest me waned, giving way to the desire to just find anything so that I could move out and get my father off my back.’
4. Use your parents to help you get a graduate job
Just as your friends can help you get a graduate job so can your parents – and not in a nepotistic way. Ashley, an English literature graduate from the University of Exeter, regrets not talking to his parents more about his job search. ‘If I had a piece of advice from my job hunt, it would be to ask for more support from family/friends and not try and tough it out alone,’ he says. ‘While it’s easy to think that parents don’t understand the modern job market, I’m sure I’d have been able to learn something.’ You can use your family as a sounding board – an opinionated one, perhaps, but one that is honest and has your best interests at heart. And of course if you are looking for a job in a field related to one your parents work in, they can be even more helpful. Think about further sources of information and advice too, such as your parents’ friends. They’ve all had work and life experience over a lot of years, so their networks are large – the chances are, someone will know someone working in the area you’re interested in.
5. But remember you don’t have to take your family’s advice
‘My parents put a lot of emphasis on finding a job, not necessarily the right job,’ says Siobhan, who studied history at the University of York. But if you talk to your parents honestly, so they can understand what it is you want/don’t want, you’ll probably find their advice is more useful. Because he didn’t start conversations with his parents about his anxieties about getting a graduate job, Ashley says, ‘I’m sure from a place of wanting to help, they tried to force their way in. One particular example of this was my mum emailing me job adverts while she was on the train into work. This was not as helpful as she thought it was and served as a point of friction while I was living back at home.’
7. Put yourself in your parents’ shoes
Having their child move back home may not have been on their agenda either. They love you, but, especially if you’re their youngest or an only child, you leaving for university signalled a big change for them as well. It’s likely they’ve been enjoying aspects of their new-found freedom… and the extra space in the house. For three years, you’ve been a visitor on occasional weekends and in the holidays, but now you’re back full-time, with all the highs, lows and bathroom-hogging consequences that comes with that. They’re probably struggling with how to manage this new adult version of you. If occasionally they slip up and treat you like a kid, try to give them a break.
8. Turn to us for help
TARGETjobs is here to help you manage this phase of moving in with your parents and make sure the channels of communication run as smoothly as possible:
- If your parents are worried that you’ve left it too late to be looking for a graduate job (and maybe you’re worried too), reassure them that it’s never too late to start your job hunt.
- If you’ve applied for a job but didn’t get it, we’ve got strategies to ensure you (and your parents) don’t get disheartened
- If getting a graduate job isn’t on your agenda at the moment, but you’re struggling to get your parents on board with your thinking, use our article to reassure them that there are plenty of great alternatives.