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Should Adult Children Pay Rent?

What does financial independence look like? This can be a tricky question when adult children are employed but still not earning enough to finance their own lives. If you can sit down and discuss the matter before the child has moved back in, you are ahead of the curve. Some parents find themselves having this discussion after their adult child has been home for a while—that can be awkward but better late than never.

In an article that argues for parents not to charge adult children rent, one writer acknowledges that both she and her mother had tight budgets but not paying her mother’s nominal rent could have help her to pay down student loans avoid further grad school debt.

A U.S. News & World Report articulated reasons why adult children who move back home should pay rent, including that it will motivate them to find work and help them learn how to budget as they pay back their student loans.

Whatever you decide, it should be something that you feel comfortable doing. If you do not want to cover all of the costs to have another adult in your home, this needs to be communicated. If, instead, you prefer that your adult child use that money to build their financial future, as one responder to this forum indicated was her mother’s position, you can communicate that (although you might relent and take something if your children want to help).

Young adults living at home can achieve financial independence. It is important to remember that there are many choices between having an adult child pay rent and not having that child pay rent. Options include:

  • Charging a rent that is below the market rate
  • Giving your child a certain amount of time that is rent-free and charging after that time ends
  • Charging rent and putting it into a savings account for the child to use once they move out
  • Asking your child to pay for one or more of the utilities
  • Splitting the cost of utilities with your child
  • Asking your child to commit helping with household chores