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If your grownup children still live at home, should they share cost of living in the common household?

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9 Answers 9

There are two possible extremes here--demanding rent as soon as they turn 18 years old, or allowing them to stay for free indefinitely regardless of their social, educational, or vocational status. I assume most of us will agree that the best answer is somewhere between these extremes, but determining exactly where isn't easy. And because family and individual situations are different, there is no "best solution" that is best in all cases.

As long as staying at home is not preventing the child from progressing socially, educationally, and/or vocationally, I see no problem with them staying for free. If they just graduated and got a new job or just started going to school, staying at home (for free) can be a great way for them to save up for future financial independence. On the other hand, if they're not taking advantage of that opportunity to save and prepare, staying at home for free is a hindrance to them.

So there is not a set age or social status that defines when a child should be required to pay rent (or even be allowed to stay at home any more). Make sure your child know what you expect of them in terms of their financial independence, and make sure you understand their expectations as well. Set some goals and guidelines and then determine how strict you will need to be with those guidelines. As others have mentioned, a lot of this comes down to communication.

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Great answer. I just wanted to add that one way to ensure they are "taking advantage of the opportunity to save and prepare" is to put their rent money into a savings account. –  Karl Bielefeldt Dec 8 '11 at 16:45
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The way my parents did it, after you graduated high school, you got your summer free. After that, you had to either be working full time, going to school full time, or doing both part time. If you chose the second or third option, you did not have to pay rent. If you chose the first, you either had to pay rent or be putting the same amount of money into savings. –  Kevin Mar 6 '13 at 16:25

I feel that all adults living in the household need to actively contribute to the maintenance of the household.

This does not necessarily need to be financial, although that is the simplest and most obvious. It could instead include things like taking on more of the cleaning, cooking, and general household maintenance. It may include driving elderly family members around and running regular errands.

The biggest key is communication, sit down with them and discuss their situation and come up with a plan that is fair to all involved.

In the cases where there is a large amount of tension between parties consider bringing in a third party to help come up with the plan.

Remember that eventually the plan would need to be revised as the family situation changes, the adult child's financial state changes, and/or things begin to break down.

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As an example with this: As a 23 year old living with my parents, our agreement was that until I had my own income, I could stay with them for free provided I did my part of the chores (dishes, my own bedroom,helping in the garden). Once I started earning my own income, I had a rent of 300 EUR per month, which was recently raised to 400 EUR (but we also agreed at the same time that I didn't have to pay my personal food when we went for a restaurant dinner). Own income included my unemployment compensation and my disability income. –  Nate Kerkhofs 1 hour ago

As with all things, "it depends."

I think that if the child is an adult then he or she should be paying rent unless there's a good reason not to. (e.g. In college or home on winter/summer breaks, studying for bar exams or similar professional credentials, searching for job, destitute, separating from spouse, etc.)

I've also heard of parents doing this and saving all that money to give back to the child in the future.

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I really like that second idea, and I'd hope anyone who had the financial freedom (and none of the other extenuating circumstances you suggest) to do so would consider that technique. Even if the adult child was studying, etc it may be worth asking a monthly "payment" properly proportional to their income to set aside in aid of becoming independent later. Just to help establish some financial responsibility while they are leaning on family for support. –  Saiboogu Mar 30 '11 at 16:33

My parents made it clear from a young age that when we were done with High School we were only able to stay at home if we were in college. And if we were staying at home we had to either help out with our share of chores or pay rent.

One thing I appreciated was them always being consistant and letting us know well before the time came what to expect.

With my son, if I charged rent would entirely depend on the situation, is he going to school or doing something productive to enhance his future? Then I would just ask for him to help out with chores and let him know that not paying rent is our way of supporting him and helping him to focus on his studies so he doesn't need to work as much which could distract from school.

If he is just being a bum, working a minimum wage job just to get money to hang out with his friends all the time then I would require rent, to start getting him used to the real world where we have expenses and cannot just blow all of our money on fun stuff all the time.

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When I was living with my parents, I made the decision on my own to help them with the household expenses particularly with the utility bills and other expenses. My parents have done so much things for me, and I believe it is a way of lending them a hand, so they can also enjoy the fruits of their labor.

I believe that adult children need not be told that they should help or not, one should take their own decision to at least help the parent considering that they are already earning.

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I can think of several reasons why an adult would be living with their parents.

  1. Financial dependence (they can't get a good job).
  2. Physical dependence (such as a disability).
  3. Emotional dependence (they can't get their act together).
  4. To help out (for example, with an aged or infirm parent).

With situation 1, provided the adult is making positive steps towards financial independence, I don't see how asking them for rent is going to get them out of the house faster. If they aren't at least trying to take such steps, I don't see why you should let them live in your house. On the other hand, helping out by paying rent and doing chores is probably good for the self esteem, so it might be beneficial as an act of support.

With situation 3, bad things are going on in everyone's life. Situationally, if the adult is dealing with addiction problems or mental illness of some kind, they probably need treatment or therapy. I would not charge rent for a person in this situation, but I would not let them live with me if they were not participating in the treatment/therapy they need.

The goal is to achieve independence. I would charge rent in a situation where charging rent furthered that goal, but not otherwise.

Situations 2 and 4 are probably out of scope for this question.

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I would add a 5th option: comfortability. A big house with plenty of room, single adult children (that have proved are able to live independently) with no financial problems. A formal or informal rent should be paid. –  Carlos Eugenio Thompson Pinzón Sep 10 '13 at 22:29

Where I live (Australia—Victoria, specifically), this isn't the norm—probably because of how university ("college" in America) is handled here. The government loans money to students (for basically no interest, other than indexing with inflation), which is paid back automatically as part of tax once your income exceeds a certain threshold (i.e. usually after you've got your degree).

Hence, while it's common for university students to have a part-time job, it's not necessary, and because it's not like your parents are paying for your education, the living arrangement often continues as it was in high school.

Of course, it varies wildly from family to family; in my family, I moved out once as soon as I turned 18 (which I'm sure happens commonly elsewhere), while others stayed until they were in their mid-late twenties and got married. I have a 23-year old brother still at home who's just finished his degree, and will probably move out once he has a job.

When we were in more financial difficulty (~10 years ago), the older kids (who were already working part-time) did contribute board (or "rent"), but I wouldn't be surprised if that was just of their own choice and recognition of the times we were in.

(And I'm one of five, which is why I seem to have brothers and sisters coming out my ears.)

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I think as a child becomes older than 18 and still living at home and working and going to school should probably not have to pay rent unless there are major financial hardships in paying the mortgage.

Having said that, a lot of families went through the housing crisis and need every adult living on the home to contribute in some way or another. Adult children can pay a household bill which helps a great deal and gives them a sense of responsibility. If they pay absolutely nothing and instead just go to the mall and blow their paychecks they will never learn how to save or budget. It's better to train them early or it will be a very depressing wake up call out on their own. Teach them young! Money matters!

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You wanted to have kids, now support them. They didn't ask to be born did they? This world is not very safe, financially or other wise. If you chose to have children, take care of them. Kind of immoral to bring someone to the world against their will and then ask them for money.

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Hi, and welcome to the site. I downvoted this answer because it seems incredibly broad to categorically say that no one should ever have to pay their parents for anything, even once they are grown. Teaching financial responsibility is just as much a part of parenting as taking care of them (they are really one and the same). The whole "they didn't ask to be born" argument is also one that I cannot find any validity to. If you can refine this answer to be more specific, and less categorical, it would probably help considerably. –  Beofett Mar 4 '13 at 16:13
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Did they ask to be born? No. So it's a fact, hence valid. If your kid decides life isn't worth it and wants to commit suicide, would you let him? No, so if you brought him here and want to keep him alive even if that is not his will, take care of him. It's your responsability really. I'm sure if well educated he has financial responsability anyway. Sometimes people have issues, psicological or of other nature. A better answer to the original question would be to "Find out what issues are stopping your son\daughter from having financial independence". Forcing them to pay rent is ridiculous. –  lo-fi Mar 4 '13 at 17:23
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I disagree, both with your reasoning and conclusion. However, this is not a format in which to debate. I merely posted my comment because it is generally considered most helpful to provide an explanation when down-voting a question or answer. Feel free to edit your answer to include the expanded explanations you provided in your last comment. –  Beofett Mar 4 '13 at 17:36
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Paying board, doing chores and helping with the running of a household is (IMHO) part of growing up and part of a child's education. You are not doing them any favours by mollycoddling them into their twenties (thirties, forties - when does it stop?). –  dave Mar 6 '13 at 0:53

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