Many young adults return to the nest after college

| Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010

Home has become a base of operations for many young adults who are starting their careers.

Households have gotten a little bigger — at least temporarily — as many college graduates find that moving back home helps them save money while they get established. Sometimes a new job doesn't pay enough to support the lifestyle they expected. Or they are still looking for a job, with the unemployment rate at about 10 percent nationwide.

The number of homes with children older than 18 increased more than 200,000 between 2007 and 2008, according to the Census Bureau. About 40 percent of 2008 graduates are living with their parents, according to And the Pew Research Center said 13 percent of parents with grown children say a son or daughter has moved back home.

Pluses and minuses abound in using family housing to ease expenses.

"No one wants to hear your day-to-day stories like your parents do," said Lori Miller, who said she enjoys the attention she gets while living with her parents in Ross as she works on a master's degree and student teaching.

Miller said she and two roommates paid $1,485-a-month rent in Oakland in her senior year at Pitt. The expenses of grad school made that lifestyle impractical.

Obviously, though, there are drawbacks.

"My parents are not overly involved in what I do, but it is hard readjusting to something that is like what you did in high school," Miller said.

She has one room, so space is crowded. She also misses get-togethers with friends for "wine and appetizers." She and her parents have developed a set of "rules and regulations," not to restrict her, but so they didn't get in each other's way.

"Things like being quiet when you come home late or not blocking somebody in with your car," she said.

University of Pittsburgh graduate Pamela Kirkland retreated to her parents' home in Washington as she began a career in radio.

She found a job she liked when she left school in 2007, but the high cost of living in the nation's capital ruled out living alone. The job might not pay what she would like, she said, but it is a good career step, so she ruled out moving to a smaller market, where living might be less expensive.

Some young professionals share apartment costs with roommates.

Duquesne University graduate Jim O'Mara is living in the South Side with two friends. All are accountants and understand each other's lifestyle needs.

Even so, O'Mara said, he hopes to soon move into a place of his own.

"Next year, if all works out," he said.

Nicole Feldhues, director of career services at Duquesne, said the cost of living expenses can come as a surprise to recent graduates.

"People get out of school, and they say, 'Wow, I've never made this much money in my life,'" Feldhues said. "But that is before they start dealing with the reality of rent, utilities and car insurance. It reduces the amount of money for fun."

Duquesne offers a program called Real World 101 to alert soon-to-be graduates of such matters.

James Cox, director of the counseling center at Pitt, said most of the students he deals with are in tune to those issues from the time they start school.

To him, the greater issue often becomes "whether the parents want them (to move in) or whether they get along."

Miller said that was no problem with her parents.

"We came to a lot of agreements," she said. "Basically, they trust me. I proved myself in my four years at Pitt."

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