Why You Should Not Charge Adult Children Rent

Smart Money Debate Red

Welcome to the 8th Smart Money Debate at ReadyForZero! To see the other side of this debate, read Jana’s post: Why You Should Charge Adult Children Rent. And then let us know which argument was more convincing!

This post was written by Melissa, a freelance writer who writes about both personal finance and organic living. She blogs at Mom’s Plans, where she shares her financial adventures and love of food despite many food intolerances.

Why You Should Not Charge Adult Children RentWith today’s economy, more and more kids are returning to the nest after college, or, in some cases, never leaving. They are called boomerang kids, and their numbers are growing.  According to the Pew Research Center, “Among 18- to 24-year olds more than half (53%) live at home or moved in for a time during the past few years.”

Even more surprising, adult children moving in with their parents seem to transcend socio-economic boundaries. “Parents with annual household incomes of $100,000 or more are just as likely as those with incomes under $30,000 to say their adult child has moved back home because of economic conditions.”

The knotty issues that may come up include what responsibilities these grown kids should have at home as well as if they should have a curfew or call if they are going to be out late. Another potentially difficult issue is if these grown children should pay rent.

Why People Argue You Should Charge Rent

Opponents argue that grown children who move back in should pay some form of rent. These parents often don’t charge their kids as much as they would pay in rent if they lived on their own, but they do make them pay something. My own mom was like this when I moved in for two years between undergraduate and graduate school, and I didn’t mind paying the $200 in rent she charged because I knew her money was tight, and I knew I couldn’t live somewhere else that cheaply.

However, in many cases, not charging grown kids rent may be the better decision.

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Why It Is Better Not to Charge Rent

…unless you are being take advantage of (obviously). I can hear opponents argue that by not charging your children rent you are spoiling them and teaching them that they are entitled to a free ride – that you are not teaching them responsibility.

Well, if it so happens that your son or daughter is going out every night and wasting his or her money on dinners out and outings with friends, then yes, I would agree that he or she can afford to pay rent.

However, most adult children are forced to live at home because of challenging financial circumstances. By now everyone should realize that the U.S. economy has not been particularly kind to recent college and high school graduates who are looking for work, and many of these young adults are living at home to avoid going into debt (or adding to their existing debt).

These are the people I’m referring to – the ones who move back home because of a legitimate financial need. CNNMoney states that people between the ages of 20 and 24 currently face an unemployment rate of 15%.

And even those who are employed are often underemployed.

I moved back home 15 years ago after the only job I could find with my English degree was a secretarial job at a janitorial supply company making $16,000 a year. Meanwhile, I had $20,000 in student loans to pay off. While I don’t fault my mom for having me pay $200 for rent, my money was extremely tight.

Had I instead been able to use that money to pay down my student loans or save for graduate school, I would have been in a much better financial position when I did go on to graduate school two years later. Instead, I just scraped by the entire time I was home, and when I went to graduate school, I had to take out another $10,000 in student loan debt.

Set Boundaries for the Perfect Situation

If you still want to charge your adult child rent if he has a legitimate financial need to move back home, consider a kinder way to do so. I see two good solutions.

First, don’t charge him rent when he first moves in. Perhaps give him 6 to 12 months rent free so he can get on his feet and find a good job. After 12 months, he will need to pay rent.  Set the amount before he even moves in. After 24 months, maybe he will have a significant rent increase. Rather than limiting his progress by charging him rent in the beginning when he is struggling the most, you set clear expectations, and he can ideally pay some money to you after a year when his finances are better.

Another alternative is to charge rent from the beginning and set it aside without your child knowing. I lived with my mom for 2.5 years. At $200 a month, that is $6,000 I paid her. If she had set that money aside and given it to me before I went to grad school, I could have saved myself an additional $6,000 in student loans. Some parents like to set the money aside so when their children move, they have the money for their rental deposit.

Choosing to charge your adult child rent is a personal decision, and you have to do what is best for your family. However, if my kids move back home after college and need financial help because of underemployment or unemployment, I am certain that I will not charge them rent.

What about you? Share your opinion in the comments below.

To see the other side of this debate, read Jana’s post: Why You Should Charge Adult Children Rent. And then let us know which argument was more convincing!

Image credit: andreypopov

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  • http://twitter.com/TacklingOurDebt TacklingOurDebt

    I understand your point. If an adult moves in with their parents because they are struggling financially and the parents are in a position to help them out, then why not. In many cultures, adult children live with their parents and grandparents forever anyways.

    But on the flipside I know a young CDN man that is 29, making a very nice income, and lives at home with mommy, rent free because he is too lazy to move out on his own. His brothers have their own lives, but he doesn’t.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bwfeldman Benjamin Feldman

      Good point! It really depends on the circumstances, doesn’t it.

      • sally

        Charge the little brats rent and have them pay for their own groceries, toothpaste, etc. When are we as enablers ever going to learn we are not helping them by enabling them. They can get part time jobs if they really want to. I am experienced in this adult child entitlement thing.

  • Melissa

    TacklingOurDebt–In that case, I definitely say charge rent. No sense in the parents being taken advantage of.

  • http://www.uniquegifter.com/ Anne @ Unique Gifter

    Thanks for asking for a balanced perspective. I know a friend who lived at home rent free and saved like a fiend. He was working 60-80 hour weeks, leaving him basically no time to breathe! After a year and a half he had 100K in the bank to put down on a house. That definitely wouldn’t have been possible without the support from his parents. Another friend was living at home and struck a deal with his parents that the rent money he was paying would be set aside for post-secondary for his younger brother.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bwfeldman Benjamin Feldman

      It sounds like both of them made sure that their plan would help themselves (or their loved ones) in the long run. Pretty smart! Particularly the first one – he made a very good financial investment and the fact that he lived at home was what made it possible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ettie.gyles Ettie Gyles

    I’ve written a book on this subject where I recommend setting clear timelines early on for eventually moving out. A plan of action, with specific milestones, should be followed to keep the effort on course.

    How To Help Your Grown Children Move Out: Ettie’s Guide To De-Nesting


    • http://www.twitter.com/bwfeldman Benjamin Feldman

      Sounds like an interesting book, Ettie. Thanks for letting us know.

  • Max

    I still live at home, but it’s a 2 way street. I pay into the mortgage since my mom lost her job, and cover cell and cable bills, and in return my mom watches my dog during my daily 16 hour shifts. If they charged me nothing, I could pay off my debt so much quicker, but at the same time, I’m always at work anyway, and it’s still cheaper than living away at some place I’d never get to see. Plus it’s helping them out too. It’s not fun to live at home, but they’re family, so we help each other out.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bwfeldman Benjamin Feldman

      That sounds like a very good compromise – and you and your parents seem to navigate the shared living arrangement quite well. Meanwhile, you also are saving money which is great.

    • Melinda Lloyd

      That is a positive way to work things out! I think that it’s great of you to take responsibility and accept that these things should be appreciated and reciprocated in whatever way possible.

  • brey

    I am making mine pay a bill…. pick one and pay it every month

    • http://www.twitter.com/bwfeldman Benjamin Feldman

      That’s a good way to get them involved in the responsibilities of the household… like keeping the lights on, literally!

  • Wisedom

    Everyone seems to blame something for their misfortune. I’ve got a brother in-law (44yrs of age) and still living @ home with mom. He once took the chance of moving out with unemployed girlfriend and 4 months later returning with huge debt that lead him to try to file for bankrupcy (he was unsuccessful because he quit his job prior to filing) and his mom stated that she was proud that instead of BK he’s now repaying. Well he had no choice. I believe if you don’t charge rent your not teaching the ADULT the reality of being alive. It costs money everyday and that they need to understand this once they turn of age, at any age. Even the toilet that their using is costing someone $$. From the water, sewer to the toilet paper.

    With boomeranging a common living standard. How are they to have any respect for reality. If the ADULT keeps living a life style of not being responsible (able to use all of the $$ for disposable income). Yes, disposable income, you choose to goto college! This type of attitude is also effecting the workforce and I believe some Corp. are TIRED of this layed back work force AND that their going across the pond to where labor is cheap, no unions to fight with, and the job gets done without any fuss from the workers. We’ve all brought this upon ourselves….. keep demanding higher pay (Unions), demanding better work hours, working from where ever,…… This country was built upon “hard work” and we’ve lost this.

    This the outcome of reality when everyone is in it for themselves.

  • mars

    my daughter had a baby and he boyfriend moved in with us. I charge him rent because he needs some kind of motivation. If I saw he was working a full time job and planning for their future it would be a different story, but he doesn’t want to go to college. I see him sleep in, play basketball and video games while we are all searching for jobs. My daughter wants to go back and finish her degree this fall. So YES I am charging him some rent. But he HATES me for it.

  • Melanie

    My daughter and her husband moved in 6 months ago. Neither of them were working. We completely supported them for almost 3 months. Now they are working (about $3000/month) but haven’t saved a penny. They blow every bit they make and have nothing to show for it. When they moved in, it was with the agreement that we wouldn’t charge rent, but when they got jobs, half their money had to go into savings. I also assigned her the chore of unloading the dishwasher and he had to take out the trash. They don’t do those either. We sat them down today and gave them all of their options (my favorite was move out). I told them if they want to stay here, the free ride just came to a screeching halt. I am not trusting them to save on their own. They have to actually give me the money to save for them. That still leaves them $1500 just to do whatever with. I think I am being more than fair, but they act like I am the worst person ever.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bwfeldman Benjamin Feldman

      Wow, yeah, it does sound like you are being more than fair to them. It’s a shame they don’t realize it.

    • Melinda Lloyd

      feel no guilt! Tough love is appropriate in your situation.

  • Chuck

    We are helping two children and a grandchild. They do not help out around the house, they do pay $100 per month to help out. But that does not even cover the extra food costs, let alone their shampoos, toothpastes, etc which they require the top brands. Same with food, coming home and wants dinner ready for them. We are taking out between $600 to $1,000 a month from our retirement account to pay for the extra costs. So I see a big issue of you and other adult children that want more from your parents. Most like us will give until we lose the house. Then they will be out on the street shaking their heads of what happened. We have talked until blue, but they just do not get it.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bwfeldman Benjamin Feldman

      Hi Chuck, thanks for the comment. I don’t think Melissa, the author of the post, or anyone else would advise you to keep spending $600-$1,000 per month that you cannot afford. I think it’s clear that you need to talk with your two adult children and tell them that while you can continue letting them stay with you, those extra costs will need to be paid by them from now on. Hopefully that will give them the motivation they need to get start helping you out.

  • mj6837

    While I agree it’s necessary to provide some support to our children graduating from school, IMO what needs to be attached to any arrangement is a defined beginning and end date. For example, stay for free for 6 months, following that $xx rent will be charged. I’ve personally seen way too many kids give up on pursuing a job because it’s tough work and there’s little to no pressure…
    While (for you) it would have been great to have lived rent free to pay down your loans…they’re your loans – no offense, but I find your point of view somewhat selfish. What about the burdens on your Mom providing you food, the extra utilities? I think you may have missed the point of being charged rent.

  • zDCdoc

    My son has two college degrees in a competitive but well paying field. He had a 3.8 GPA for one degree and a 4.0 for the other. He wanted to study a year in Asia and I gave him the $35,000 with the agreement that I was done. He has only had one work study job and just for one year of college. No summer work, no temp jobs no nothing. I am sick of paying for him to sit around my house saying he wants the year off. He is now going for the third degree and it is only two days of week in class. That gives him five to work. He still buys video games and overspent his money while in Asia. Sorry but this is called being an enabler. He needs to pay rent as he is a well educated adult. He has the skills needed but why bother? If not rent then the best solution is being put out and let him have a taste of real life. Went to school with too many rich kids and it will not fly with me. Both his father and I worked for years and are retired. I still work for FREE. I thought I had taught him to give back but it is not happening. Not a great economy for my 65 plus age bracket either!

    • http://www.twitter.com/bwfeldman Benjamin Feldman

      Very interesting, thanks for sharing your experience! Sounds like you are ready to make a change. I hope it all works out well for both of you!

      • zDCdoc

        He may not be ready for a change but we are. It may not work out well for him but he is an adult and must take responsibility. Even in my golden years as they are called it might not work out for my husband and I either. Retirement funds tanked and who knows how long SS will be around. Investments are no security these days either. No individual is going to take care of us. We are adults. My son is too and needs to step up to the plate and take his knocks. This economy is fair to very few. That is a reality and these kids need to learn to cope. It might not be the life their patents provided but we had to work from the ground up. Medical school was expensive for both hubby and I a hundred years ago. We sacrificed and sorry but that is part of growing up.

        • too old to runaway

          Here here!!!!

          • zDCdoc

            I tossed him out. Letting him back was stupid on my part. He is doing just fine w/o me!

        • Melinda Lloyd

          I completely agree that your son has overstayed his welcome. He needs to take some responsibility for his life.

          • zDCdoc

            It has been two months since he has left. He has landed a job paying six figures within two weeks after I said enough was enough. He would stay in school the rest of his life if I had let him. With me allowing him to stay all I was doing was enabling his behavior. If he wants a year off he can finance it. My biggest mistake was not doing it sooner. While the economy is not great I remember hubby and I struggling and a very high interest rate on our mortgage that was considered great at the time but still very expensive. We had student debts from medical school. Very few individuals did not start off struggling. Allowing him back home was the biggest parenting mistake I made. He had an education, brains but no motivation. That was not going to come from a vaca at my house!

          • Melinda Lloyd

            Glad to hear it worked out!! I do think that there is a big difference between a helping hand and an enabling shoulder!! When they stop helping themselves the burden falls entirely on you, and that is not ok. I am sure you are very proud of his accomplishments so far. Remind him of all the help you provided him when you start needing help yourself!!!

          • zDCdoc

            He knows-:) he has three older brothers and they have done a beautiful job at reinforcing my strategy. I am proud BUT I knew he could do it and I expected nothing less. All of our kids are in different fields with different abilities. All we ever asked is that they live up to their potential and set the bar to push themselves. I don’t advocate burning yourself out or getting so OCD you can’t function but we will never reach our full potential unless we try. Even at my age I am still a work in progress. I am now heading back for more training even though I will be the oldest “kid” in the group. It is also in a foreign country and a very rough environment but I will grow. Beats sitting in my comfort zone aging. I need to practice what I preach!

  • zDCdoc

    Planning for graduation and the job market need to start in college! It might not be your dream job and odds you are underemployed high BUT this is not unique to your generation. We all had to start out at the bottom. After college if you planned correctly and lived frugally you should be independent. School debt is a fact of life for most. Yes it would be great to be debt free so you can continue on to grad school but that does not prepare you for adulthood with house/rent, utilities, food, medical, car etc. and learning to balance that yourself teaches those skills. I taught college, med school to be exact and higher level science undergrad classes. Those that they site as being unemployed are underemployed for a reason. Most did not show up to class or were too hungover to study. I see this from both sides. Many wanted it given. Trust me if you work for it you will appreciate it more when you get it. We struggled for years with incredible med school debt and working 36 hour shifts with lousy pay. The world owes you nothing! You have to make your own way. Harsh perhaps but that is reality. You will survive even if not to your initial liking.

    • Melinda Lloyd

      I don’t agree with this. While, yes, we note that current applicants are not as professional or ready for the job market as previous generations, this is not the main reason for un/underemployment. The job market is much harder on the current graduates than on previous generations as there are many very experienced professionals who are older, having lost their jobs, willing to step in for the low salaries often reserved for these new incoming young adults. To say current unemployments are always the fault of the young adult is ignorance to the situation. Yes, there will be a few that fit your description, but there are many cases that do not. Parents should be able to tell which category their child fits into.

      • zDCdoc

        I get 50 year olds saying they were replaced by young kids because they cost them less in salary and medical claims experience which determines rates. You can argue both ways. If you don’t think kids have changed come spend a day with me at school or a night with me in ER. The change is dramatic from our generation to this one. If your child is too drunk to go to class or even get a GED you have a problem. It is a huge problem in society that these kids are way beyond the maturity curve. College is the new high school as far as behavior and grad school the new college. I live in DC obviously and we gave very low unemployment yet kids get jobs if they go after them. If they don’t sell themselves and push you are right. Parents should be able to tell but if your high school student has yet to see his career/college office at his school and has no plans when he has his cap and gown that is the child’s fault as well as the parent’s

        • Melinda Lloyd

          completely agreed in those cases. I am merely stating that there are many kids not fitting that scheme. It is not a one size fits all. I have a lot of friends struggling and taking any low paying job that will accept them at the moment. They have good degrees that should be useful to them, and are hard workers, but the opportunities promised when starting those college programs just are not there.

          • zDCdoc

            If you get a history major or art major yes you are going to have a harder time. Right now we are importing STEM majors, (science, technology, engineer and math) from Asia to fill the openings. I guess my point when one decides a college major they need to explore options. College is no longer about being trained for a job but getting a skill set and being able to take skills like the ability to extrapolate and apply it to any field. Again, it might not be the dream job but there are high demands in certain fields. If you land in one with little or no demand consider grad school If you can afford it OR just take a few classes at your community college in computer science or IT. The starting pay is tolerable and it will pay the bills. The days if going to college, getting an English major and landing a job as a writer are long gone. Department of Labor Statistics has great info on where the job needs are.

          • Melinda Lloyd

            hahaha no. None are history or art… While my husband is an engineer, a lot of jobs were recently cut from the DOE in that field and he knows how lucky he is to have anything let alone something stable like he does. My friends were in biology or other science related fields which when we started college were promoted as growing fields that would never decline. Personally I went with Education only to find that I wouldn’t be able to get a job anyhow, so changed to “liberal studies” A major that typically has a harder time finding work. However I have the better job out of my friends who are much more qualified in their fields which still are promoted as “growing”. It’s all luck out there right now.

          • zDCdoc

            I think we are just going to have to agree to disagree. I have given you a site but if you are not interested there is little I can do. The jobs are there. They are given by geographic location. You can call it luck but I think it is hitting the ground hard and fast, networking, volunteering to gain experience, intern while still IN college. I do think one very interesting point is here. Are you willing to relocate or are you waiting for a job in a depressed area? Engineering is in high demand and only 4% of our last graduating class failed to secure jobs. A few had convictions ranging from drugs to assault charges so that is a no brainer. With an opening like “hahaha no” I don’t think we are going to get too far-:) have a pleasant rest of your week and

          • Melinda Lloyd

            You did not provide a site. You also said “agree to disagree” yet then continued to try to have the last word. Sorry Sir, but that was rude. Networking is, yes, the basis for everything nowadays. As I said, skill and actual hard work have little to do with success in your field, it is about who you know, and how you socialize. That has much more to do with your economic bracket than your abilities or laziness. Also many of these children who move back in (what the article was about to begin with) will not have gone to college, or will have majors you believe to be poor choices. That may be, but the fact remains that trying is the key factor to whether or not a parent should extend a helping hand. Your son wasn’t trying, so you rightfully cut him off. However many kids are trying, maybe they made poor choices, but that is completely besides the point.

            Also the reason I started with “hahaha no.” was because I found your frank assumption that either 1.) Any individual doing poorly was an art or history major; or 2.) Any friend of mine had to have made poor choices in this regard; to be quite prejudicial and rude in whichever way you meant it. While I didn’t want to blatantly point that out, you forced the issue.
            So yes, the argument is over, please feel free for one last rant back at me, even though you said you would not. I am done. Goodbye.

          • zDCdoc

            I am a woman not a Sir-:) talk about assumptions, have a wonderful holiday.

  • Too old to runaway

    Your position still sounds like entitlement. My parents were older, could have been my grandparents, but they were wonderful. One thing they didn’t do however, is give me advice on how to survive. They just made it clear, that once I was married, that coming home wasn’t an option. So, I did what I could to survive. I, on the other hand, have been taken advantage of, because of my guilt for having made a bad choice in marriage. My daughter has been living with me and her bf, and her 5 yr. daughter, now a new baby, for about four years. They do take care of their own bills, but mostly are still in debt. I’ve told them where to go for help. The bf expects to get a free ride. Today, I am going to get the nerve to tell him that I’m needing to collect rent to the tune of 600, which is just over half of my mortgage. I now make one fourth of what I used to and can’t concentrate to even try to improve my situation due to the chaos in the house.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bwfeldman Benjamin Feldman

      Good luck with the talk – I hope it goes well! That sounds like a very tough situation.

    • zDCdoc

      You need to put yourself first. Funding a retirement and taking care of yourself is your first priority. You have raised your children and all must move on. I wish you the very best! It is not easy having just tossed one out but it is the best in the end for all of us. If these kids don’t get on their own two feet what will they do when we are gone?

    • Melinda Lloyd

      I agree, you are being too kind to these kids. Rent should be expected if they are being financially irresponsible.

  • taz

    What about poor parents who cant afford another mouth to feed? im barely able to afford college and with my other sister in college now too my single mom can not afford for me (an adult)to live off of her for free anymore. Just helping out around the house is not enough. This article is for parents who have the option of not charging rent. Alot dont have that option.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bwfeldman Benjamin Feldman

      That’s a good point, taz. Thanks for your comment!

    • zDCdoc

      Even if you are financially secure now things can change and parents need to protect their future. Retirement is expensive! You do cut back on food, clothing and gas but at some point nearly all will have to face medical bills and even worse assisted living or nursing home care. Between the two it can kill your savings in no time. You simply can’t go to a bank and ask for a loan to cover assisted living. As soon as a parent can they must start looking after themselves first. It is not because we don’t love you. It is because we do! Who will be picking up the bill so we are not homeless? Most likely you be it directly or through the system. The system is already on overload as us boomers age. It will only get worse. Most of us started off dirt poor with student debt too if we went to college. My generation had parents who tossed you out at 18 for work or school. Not easy but most all of us did the work and built a life. While things are expensive now we had some terrible years if inflation in the very late 70s and early 80s. Mortgage interest was 16% if you had good credit. Payments were incredibly high even if you qualified. Our parents had the Great Depression. All generations have challenges. Hang in there, gain your independence and even if your parents do have money it can be gone very quickly. I admire you for recognizing your mom’s own struggles!

    • Melinda Lloyd

      Taz, If I were your mother I would say that while rent was free, food is not part of that deal and that they must provide for a % of the monthly food bill. There is a difference between free rent and free utilities/living costs

  • Elizabeth

    In my case, I ended up moving back home very recently because I broke my right ankle and cannot drive or climb the stairs to my third-floor apartment. Since I still have to pay the rent on that apartment I can’t get to and I’m trying to pay down student loans at the same time, I’m very grateful that my mom is nice enough not to charge me rent. I would have to decrease my loan payments if she did. So I agree that a blanket “charge your kids rent if they come back” statement is too extreme for most cases.

    That said, I wish I could say I were at least helping out around the house, but that’s not particularly viable until I can stand again or someone invents a sitting dish-washing station. It’s aggravating.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bwfeldman Benjamin Feldman

      Sorry to hear about your broken ankle! I think it’s more than reasonable for you to rely on your mom’s help as you recover from what must be a very frustrating injury. And I’m sure she is happy she can help you during a difficult time, regardless. Best of luck to you!

    • Your Mom’s AMAZING :-)

      You are/were injured… and your Mother helped you. This is so awesome of her and definitely NOT a mooching situation like Stephanie’s (above). I am sure that your Mother wanted to take care of you while you were healing. I hope you’re ankle is better. Your Mother obviously did an amazing job of raising you. :-)

  • Zane Orlando

    I lost my job on the 28th july, spent all of my money paying off rent and bills for my shared house which the lease ended on september 1st. thankfully my parents let me come and live with them until i found a new job. i had to sleep on a mattress in the same room as my 10 year old brother. i had a -1750 overdraft and literally zero money. I was able to eat and sleep for free though, i claimed benefits and then I got a job after 2 months which earns me £1100 a month. I have already made arrangements to move in with a friend in january. I want to save my money cos i want a TEFL career, a car and enough money to be in a decent financial position and live normally with my friend. I have a civil and friendly relationship with my parents but the second i got my new job they decided i need to pay £200 a month rent before i leave. Theyre completely entitled to do it, it is their house, i just feel like theyre doing it for them and not for my best interests at all. am i being selfish or should my parents be more considerate of me trying to save after hard times and live a better life with some actual financial responsibility? i could understand if i was out drinking and blowing my money but im literally buying my own food, paying off bills and trying to save for a TEFL course and a car. they say i can still do that and pay rent, i just feel a little let down. But who know maybe im just being a brat, it is their house after all and without them i would be homeless right now. all thoughts welcome!

    • http://www.twitter.com/bwfeldman Benjamin Feldman

      Hi Zane, that is an interesting situation. Thanks for sharing, and so sorry to hear about your job loss and subsequent challenges! I think you are right to feel a little let down about the new rent being charged by your parents, but on the other hand, they did let you stay there for free while you were trying to deal with unemployment and finding a new job. If I were you, I would focus on the fact that they helped you out and are still there to offer guidance and emotional support and that way you can enjoy the positives without letting the negatives get in your way. Just my two cents! Good luck.

    • Melinda Lloyd

      Zane, I too have been in debt quite a bit. My mother was kind enough to let me pay off the debt (literally 100% of paychecks going to that and to nothing else) before paying any rent. Saving for your course and car are luxuries, and perhaps if you put off saving anything for those and focused on just paying off the debt (perhaps giving them a timeline for that to be paid off) and agreeing to pay rent after that… they may be willing to see things your way for a little longer.

  • Melinda Lloyd

    I agree with the “putting aside” point. I think it’s a good idea for several reasons. First, you feel better about the situation because you are in no obligation to give that money back, so it becomes a gift. Second, they won’t take advantage of the situation since they believe they are just paying you and you are using that money. Third, when they do move out and see how much money they amassed, they will realize more clearly just how fast “cheap monthly payments” can add up, a lesson much better learned this way than with credit card debt…… There are further reasons I am sure.

    I also agree that if the parent is also on hard times the rent should be to help out there.

    • Well said, Melinda!


  • zDCdoc

    One thing I noticed that has not been addressed much is independence as in psychological independence. These kids need to function on their own. I am not saying it is easy and you might have to hold two jobs to do it but move in with friends and share expenses that way. Your parents are just that, your parents and the dynamic changes little no matter how old you get. A time will come when you no longer have them. The sooner you start the path to independence the better. I learned the hard way with one of mine. You can charge rent, bill them or do nothing but the real issue is getting them independent. Financially is only part of a much bigger picture. JMHO

  • Stephanie

    My husband and our three kids moved in with my in-laws only caused they had asked us to. They told us they needed help with only being driven places. They have an adopted son who is still in middle school, so my husband’s mom gets tired from driving him places and her husband to and from work. We graciously accepted their invite. We now pay 600 a month and they have been making us buy the groceries, which averages out to about 500 a month. Our annual income is around 1600 and my husband is also going to college. I’m extremely annoyed at the situation. To me it seems like they are taking advantage of us living with them. I don’t mind helping out, but there has to be a limit.

    • Melba Von Eye

      Maybe they are trying to encourage you to get out on your own!

      • Appreciate Your In-Laws!

        Yes Melba, I agree. Where are you going to find $220/month rent per person that includes EVERYTHING? How many people would be willing or able to take in a family of 5 for only 1100/mo. plus rides… and they even include food and toiletries with that dirt-cheap rent? I paid more than that in the 80s while working and finishing my education (which I also paid for). I think her in-laws are very generous… too generous! Stephanie will eventually realize that self-pity rarely accomplishes anything productive.

    • What Makes You Feel ENTITLED ?

      Sorry Stephanie… you say that they asked you to move in to help THEM but really it seems as though they asked you to move in to help YOU while your husband finishes his education. You could always move into your own place and help out your mother-in-law by offering to drive them when you’re not working and this way you won’t feel as though they are taking advantage of your generosity. Either way, maybe it would be better to get a place of your own to avoid feeling “extremely annoyed with the situation”.

  • Parent

    Your non-paying rent suggestion and giving back what was paid in at the end of the rental cycle is selfish. Based on the “what I could have had” scenario without even considering how many people barely make it by these days and assuming all parents are so well established that adding another mouth to feed and the added expenses of electric, water, etc is easily absorbed by the very people who raised you to begin with is immature and the very reason many kids today can’t make it. Maybe most kids think their parents are so well off is because they choose not to discuss their financial status with you. Maybe it’s because they want better for you than what they had for themselves even to the point that they set themselves back. Buck up, pay rent and make it work out. Your parents have nobody to fall back on and you shouldn’t take advantage of them.

  • Miranda

    I am a 23 year old person who moved into my parent’s house a few months ago after losing my apartment because of terrible roommates. And I also lost my job. I know what it’s like to live on my own and have always saved my money, I don’t go out at all, I’m more of a staying-in kind of person. With the money I had saved I buy all my food and shampoo and things. I don’t make messes and I get along fine with everyone and I sleep on a couch. I haven’t been charged rent yet because I can’t afford it, but I’m always being told that I’m a freeloader and need to get my act together, which I am trying to do, but it takes a little time. Not to mention personal criticisms about my character because I’m different than when they were my age. Anyway, I feel like my parents see articles about kids who are actually just lazing about and think that any kid who lives at home is immediately terrible. So I’m glad there’s someone else who sees it my way.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bwfeldman Benjamin Feldman

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the article! I don’t think you’re a freeloader at all, and it’s too bad you’ve had to hear that word thrown about. You are understandably trying to get back on your feet, and it would be good if your parents could see that. Best of luck – hope it all works out for you!

  • Lo

    I moved home after college and did not pay rent. I would have but then I got laid off. Then when I was 25, my parents charged me $100/month. I understood it, even though I pay for my own clothes, shampoo, food, etc. Might I add, I am also staying home, since my parents are opposed to living together with my boyfriend before marriage. So I am staying home until I marry my long time boyfriend. I stay to save money, but also to make them happy, because I could afford to move in with my boyfriend, since he has a good job and could help support me. Then at the age of 27, I decided back to grad school, and they decided to raise my rent. I understand teaching “responsibility,” but that extra money is now money I need to take out in student loans, which I pay interest on. Even so, I have come up with money saving tricks, but the tricks will just get me money to pay them, and not use for school. I understand that it is not my parents’ choice that I am still home, not married, and now going back to school for 2 years. However I am “under employed” and couldn’t live on my own, hence why I am going for my masters. So I feel I am doing right by them, and now forced to stretch my savings further for school, when my parents don’t need the money. I am not angry, but I would maybe like some parental insight as to why this makes sense to them.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bwfeldman Benjamin Feldman

      It’s hard to know exactly what their reasoning is, but my guess is you’re right that it has something to do with teaching you responsibility. Different parents have different opinions on this – some are much more relaxed than others. Explaining to them your situation and your plan might help, but it sounds like you’ve already done that. Anyway, I wish you luck in finding a resolution that leaves everyone happy.

  • PJ

    Both my sons live at my house. One is paying rent and going to school. The other graduated with a 4 year degree, has his girlfriend with him and pays me half of what the other does. All three work a low paying job and not full time. I lost my job, had back surgery with no insurance. I’ve depleted my savings supporting my second son and his girlfriend. Promises are made, but he never follows through. He eats out a lot, buys video games…They are taking advantage of me. Oh and Sally Mae calls me all the time!

    • http://www.twitter.com/bwfeldman Benjamin Feldman

      Hi there, sorry to hear about this difficult situation. It might be a good idea to schedule a meeting with the son and his girlfriend to discuss what they’ll need to do in order to continue living at your house. You can make a list of what you need and present it to them politely but firmly. Hope that helps!

  • Jim A

    27 year old living at home rent free ,we are paying student loans for her , refuses to help around the house and gets mad when I suggest it, I get no backup from the wife , Situation really causes problems in our house for me . She pretty much gave up on looking for full time work. Gave her a choice last week and have not been spoken to ever since. Gotta love it.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bwfeldman Benjamin Feldman

      Hi Jim, that’s a tough situation. Kudos to you for being patient with your daughter, but it sounds like you need more of an effort from her. It might be worth scheduling a family discussion when you all can sit down and talk about what will be required of her if she is to continue living at your house. I know this can be tough, but if you prepare what you want to say in advance, it can go smoothly. You could also show her this blog post and comment thread to help her understand why you feel the way you do. Good luck!

  • Annoymous

    Parents who charge their children rent are fools. I would never charge my children rent money. Me and my future husband has our own money. Our children need money for themselves. Me and my husband may not be able to pay everything for our children, but at least when they are working they will be able to afford the things they need. Parents who set rules for adults are fools. It is not just their house, it belongs to your children too and even, if they no longer live there. Adult children do not care about rules, especially their are busy studying school and working to save for their new home. Adult children does not have to do anything for looser parents. Our home is always my children home to too. Parents have their own money and they need to use it. They are responsible for their expenses, not children. Children are only responsible for their own financial needs when they are working and making their own money. Even I never had good parents and I hate them, but I will love my husband and children and treat them better.

    • Okayyyy……

      You really should reconsider your stance on this issue… maybe you could put that extra $ into some English classes. I disagree with you about parents being “foolish” for requiring their ADULT children to at least try and support themselves. I believe that if one wishes to be treated as an adult, they should at least do their personal best to behave as an adult. Parents who teach their child to be independent, responsible and self-reliant are NOT “loosers” or “fools”, but GREAT parents. I don’t have children of my own, but I was raised by GREAT parents.

  • nelop

    my mom charges me rent £300 a month plus £150 council tax so total of £450 a month my train travel into work is £400 a month so uve guessed it im barely left with anything at the end of the month we dont eat the same things so I do my own food shopping. The mortgage is paid off however there is no reasoning with her I try to save but its so hard. hoping to move out Im currently looking to see if I can rent a room near where I work which will save me 300+ a month

  • Sharon Smith

    I let my daughter, son-in-law, and grandson move back home 13 years ago because they couldn’t afford rent on their own & I needed help with my ailing mother, who lived with me. My daughter had a 2nd child, divorced, and she & both grandchildren are still at home. She paid some help with food, etc. in the beginning but hasn’t paid anything since 2005 on any sort of regular basis. She can’t seem to hold down a full time job, is a slob, and has wrecked every car we own at least once. She is rude, and resents any feedback I give her. I am the only bread winner (my husband is on disability) and have full financial support of my grandsons. I would love to kick her out, but the boys have no other stability. I feel resentful and trapped, and tired. I pay for the boys health insurance, their glasses, their food and 90 % of their clothes. She moved out once 1000 miles away with a loser and it cost me 2 K to get her and the boys home. So . . . you tell me . . .should adult children pay rent?

    • http://www.twitter.com/bwfeldman Benjamin Feldman

      Hi Sharon, I’m sorry to hear about this challenging situation! I’m sure it must be very frustrating to deal with. I know it’s easier said than done, but if you could find some way to communicate how you’re feeling (without anger) to your daughter then maybe she would begin to see how much you are doing for her. Or she needs to have the choices laid out more clearly for her (i.e. continue to live in the house but with a respectful attitude and helping around the house or finding another place to live). Best of luck to you!

  • Rachael

    This is just one of those things that is always going to be based on the specific situation. You can’t use a blanket “You should or shouldn’t charge your kids rent” – If you have plenty of money, sure, let them stay rent free. If you don’t, charge them a discounted rent as to what they’d be getting elsewhere – you have a tenant and extra money you wouldn’t have had otherwise and they have a MUCH easier place to live – rent encompasses a lot more than simply the rental fee, you have to furnish the place, buy toiletries, pay cable, internet, water, utilities, food… all of those expenses will be much cheaper shared with an extra person, for both sides. It’s literally win win if you go about it the right way.

    The biggest issue is communication – communicate about what you expect and how it makes you feel. People posting about how “unfair” it is that their parents are making them pay rent – welcome to adulthood. It’s not often fair, but you are the one who chose to go to school, and you’re the one who signed for the debt. You’re the one with the degree to show for it, thus, it’s your responsibility to pay it back, no matter how long it takes. Your parents aren’t obligated to help you by giving you a free ride until you’re debt free.

    Personal experience – I’m 25 and have been on my own for years (most of them without a great paying job while I was in school). I’ve always had roommates, didn’t have cable or a smartphone, and shopped wisely. I’ve been paying back my loans all while paying my monthly apartment rent – the fact that you’re complaining about a couple hundred dollars a month is ludicrous, you’d likely be paying twice that if your parents weren’t letting you live at home.

    Bottom line – some parents can easily help, and some may need you to pitch in. Your parents aren’t better or worse for being one type or the other, and either way, you’re likely getting a better deal than if they weren’t around. So… stop complaining?