Escaping the Boomerang Life

If tough times have forced you to fly back to your parents' nest, take heart. B.W. shows you how you can fly back out�for good.

The Strouds hope profits from their business will restore their financial health. (Photo by Brett Kramer)

Tondalah Stroud never imagined that as a 37-year-old married mother she’d be sleeping in her childhood bedroom in suburban Chicago. But when she and her husband, Walter, 46, found themselves upside down in their mortgage and saddled with more than $20,000 in credit card debt, mounting medical bills, and two monthly car payments totaling $1,400, moving in with her mother seemed like the most cost-effective option.

“We were pretty much living paycheck to paycheck, and we were tired of that,” says Tondalah. “We wanted to invest in our business and pay down debt.” The Strouds’ 9-year-old son, William, and two dogs, a black Lab and a beagle-shepherd mix, also live with them. The Strouds, who moved into two rooms in  Tondalah’s mother’s house in Dolton, Illinois, last July, have joined the growing number of professional adults who share a home with their parents or other relatives because of economic hardship.

Denise, Tondalah’s mother, who is 56, says she never expected Tondalah to return home because she had been financially independent for years. But she’s delighted to have her daughter’s family there. “I get a chance to do more mothering, especially with my grandson here. We’re all willing to compromise to do what we need to, to beat the economy.”

Referred to as “boomerangers” or “boomerang kids,” these adults are mostly  between the ages of 25 and 34, although it’s not uncommon to have older adults in this category, says Rich Morin, senior editor for the Pew Research Center and co-author of the 2009 report, Home for the Holidays … and Every Other Day, about boomerangers. The study finds that 13% of parents in the U.S. with grown children say that one of their adult sons or daughters has moved back home in the past year. The study also shows that 10% of surveyed adults age 18 to 34 say the poor economy has forced them to move back in with their parents. While this is the first time that the Pew Research Center has conducted this type of study, Morin says U.S. Census Bureau data confirm that fewer young adults between ages 18 and 29 live alone now than before the recession, dropping from 7.9% in 2007 to 7.3% in 2009. The Census Bureau also noticed similar declines immediately after the recessions in 1982 and 2001.

In black America, the phenomenon is more pronounced. Of African American parents age 45 and up surveyed in an AARP study, African American Experiences in the Economy: Recession Effects More Strongly Felt, 18% reported that they welcomed their

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