Do You Charge Rent When Your Young Adult Children Live at Home?

My oldest will be twenty this year. After graduating high school, he was so excited to work as a plumber full-time: he craved doing something with his hands and loved the freedom of not having to sit in a classroom. Making money without accruing any debt is very important to him. 

During his senior year of high school, I figured he’d move out right away because, as an eighteen-year-old, I couldn’t wait to be out on my own. That wasn’t the case, though. He’s perfectly content to live at home, and I am over the moon that I still see him daily. He helps around the house, has a busy life of his own, and is responsible. 

Should I let my young adult live at home?
The decision to charge rent to a young adult living at home is complicated. (Fizkes/Shutterstock)

If my son moved out, he would need to live with roommates to defray the cost

His friends either go to college or live at home with their parents. Things are so expensive right now that if he did move out, the cost of living would require him to have two or three roommates (something he doesn’t want), and even then, it would be a stretch for all of them. 

I’ve asked him if they pay rent, and while none of them do right now (they are all eighteen or nineteen) he did say they probably all will be soon. Honestly, I’ve been struggling with taking money from my son, but that’s probably not the right way to look at it.

He’s an adult, has all the comforts of home at no cost, and makes a decent hourly wage. He already pays for things like haircuts, his gym membership, everything involving his vehicle, new clothes, and some of his food. 

He’s also been excellent about saving money and has more in that bank now than I did in my 30s. 

When do I start charging my son rent?

So the question is, when do you start charging rent to your child, who lives at home and works full time? And if you’ve been asking yourself the same question, Grown and Flown surveyed parents in this situation about what they did, and the answer was almost unanimous.

Lauri D. says, “I have a high school and a college grad both living back at home with me, I charge both rent.”

Tarcy O. said her son is 24 and living at home. “I charge him $100 weekly to help with groceries and bills.”

Melony C. says her son has a really good job, just turned 21, still lives at home, and she charges him rent.

Faith K. told us, “I have a 21-year-old taking a gap year who lives at home. We charge a small rent every month to help offset the increase in groceries.” 

Melissa M. says, “I have twins that graduated last December and started paying minimal rent about six months ago.”

Amanda B. has a 22-year-old and charges her $100 a week. “We charge rent to make her responsible for helping out. It would be significantly higher if I added up how much it costs to have her living here.”

Most of the parents of high school graduates living at home we surveyed told us that they are charging their kids rent to prepare them for the real world. Twenty seemed to be the average age when they started charging rent, and the average rent seemed to be about $100 a week. Many parents indicated that they charge a nominal amount that comes nowhere near the actual cost of having their kids living at home. 

Although many parents charge rent, they struggle with it

I realize every teenager and twenty-something is different, and some things happen that would cause parents to start charging rent earlier, later, or never. Charging your child to live at home after graduation may be a no-brainer for some and a struggle for others. 

For example, Debbie M. said her high school graduate is living at home and saving for college. “I don’t want to charge him rent because he’s saving every penny so that he won’t go into debt.” 

Pam S. said, “I have a 22-year-old living with me. It’s just us; I’ve been a single parent since she was 5. I don’t charge her rent. She helps with housework and laundry and pays for her car, but her job only pays $12.50/hr, and I’m not interested in taking that from her. I probably should, but she has her whole life ahead to pay rent and bills, and I’m ok with giving her some time to make her way.”

You need to do what’s best for you and your family. Circumstances may change, and that might mean that your plans also change. And while it’s nice to know what other parents are doing for reference, you have to do what works in your household, and you are the only one who knows what that is, regardless of what everyone else is doing. 

More Great Reading:

How to Adjust When You Have an Adult Child Living at Home

About Katie BinghamSmith

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .

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