Do I stay or do I go now?

Experts say that the age when an adult child moves out varies

Experts say that the age when an adult child moves out varies

March 31, 2006|by JULIE E. GREENE

Tim Adams is 21 and is living at home with mom.

That's OK with him and his mom because Adams is attending Hagerstown Community College full time and working two part-time jobs.

"It's more convenient and actually cheaper to live with the parents," says Adams, who lives east of Hagerstown.

"You don't have to go to the Laundromat and the refrigerator is always full. If you're lucky, sometimes you'll be home for dinner when mom cooks it," he says.

And that's fine by mom.

"He's my last one. I know when he leaves, I'll be depressed. I also know that I need to let go," says Lynnette Adams. Her older son Jonathan moved out when he was 22.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 57 percent of men ages 18 to 24 and 47 percent of women those ages lived at home in 2004.

That year, 14 percent of men ages 25 to 34 lived at home, whereas 8 percent of women that age did. Both sets of numbers include unmarried adult children living in dorms.

At what age an adult child moves out depends on what the child is doing, says Stacey Black, a clinical social worker with Washington County Hospital's Behavioral Health Services.

If the child is still in school or has just started his or her first real job and is saving money to move out, those are motivating reasons to stay home, Black says, "because they're not in a financial situation to be alone yet."

To keep the situation from ballooning into one in which the child never leaves, leading to tension among family members, Black recommends setting a moving-out date for the child - after six months, for example, for a child who has just entered the work force. That provides time to save for a security deposit, she says.

Black also recommends charging a working adult child rent, even if it's only $25 a month.

The adult child might need to reprioritize spending, buying less beer or other recreational supplies, but it means he or she is helping to pay for the household expenses consumed, Black says.

Living at home

Rachel Shusterman, 23, of Keedysville, is living with her parents because she's a single parent attending classes full time at HCC, where her son attends preschool.

Living at home helps keep her expenses down. It also allows her to save what she can so she and her son can have their own place when she finishes school, which will probably be in another year or two.

Shusterman says she moved out once, living for about four months with her boyfriend and their newborn.

"It was hard with the new baby," she says.

Shusterman says most of her friends still live at home, either because housing is too expensive or they aren't mature enough to leave home yet.

Ryan Jenkins, 19, is saving his summer job earnings so when he graduates he can maintain the apartment-living lifestyle he's enjoying currently on his parents' tab.

Jenkins moved to Hagerstown and into his own place when he accepted a track scholarship at HCC because his parents live in Preston on the Eastern Shore.

He likes the feeling of independence.

Ryan Henry, 19, would like the privacy having his own place would bring. For now, the New Jersey native is living with HCC basketball teammate Dustin Jenkins and Jenkins' father in Hagerstown.

"It's easier, money-wise. It's hard to go to college and work and support yourself," says Henry, who isn't currently working.

Dustin Jenkins, 19, and Henry say they each plan to transfer to four-year colleges and want to get their own places once they've graduated.

They plan to start saving their summer job money for apartments, something they haven't been doing.

Jenkins has been spending it on "whatever" and Henry's purchases included a pair of black Air Jordans he refers to as "Jays" that cost about $150.

Tim Adams could buy a pair of snazzy sneakers, but has chosen instead to pay his bills and save for a place of his own.

While he lives at home, he pays his mom $200 a month for his cell phone and car insurance. That leaves about $40 for laundry and food.

"He eats more than $40," mom says. "He is saving." He pays for his car, gas, tuition, books and other personal expenses, she says.

Tim Adams also is saving some of his earnings in hopes that after transferring to a four-year college and graduating he'll be able to make a down payment on a house or sign a lease for an apartment.

Living at home isn't that bad, he says.

"When it's rough, when you're in rough times, your family is always there to back you up," he says.

But, there are still times he wishes he lived on his own now, so he'd have more personal space and privacy. His mother agrees.

"It's time. As much as I'll miss him, you know, I want him to experience life," Lynnette Adams says.

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