How to Get Your Adult Children to Move Out

Three Parts:Determining Whether Your Child Is Taking Advantage Of YouAddressing the Need to Move OutSetting a Deadline

Are you frustrated because your kids are grown up and old enough to be self-sufficient, yet they're still living with you? Is your home starting to feel like a free hotel? If you've decided it's time for one or more of your children to leave the nest, but they refuse to spread their wings, here's what to do.

Part 1
Determining Whether Your Child Is Taking Advantage Of You

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    Assess the situation as objectively as possible. As a parent, you might have mixed feelings about encouraging your child to move out. On one hand, you might enjoy the company, or you don't want them to struggle on their own, or you don't want to feel like you're "kicking" anyone out. On the other hand, perhaps you sense that your child is not pulling his/her own weight, and if you don't take action s/he might never become self-sufficient. It's important to sort through all of these feelings before you talk to your child.
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    Make a list of the reasons you want your child to move out. Be honest-- confront any ways in which having your child live at home makes you feel uncomfortable, and don't allow guilt to make you bite your tongue. Some reasons are obvious, such as if your child blatantly disrespects your privacy or belongings. Some reasons are subtle and somewhat personal and embarrassing, like overhearing your child with their lover(s), or the fact that you seem to be the one who ends up doing their laundry.
    • Consider whether there is a real reason your child cannot live on their own. Sometimes a parent is reluctant to push a child out of the house if they believe the child simply doesn't have the resources to live independently. In most cases, however, the child is perfectly capable of being independent, but it will require some downgrading -- like moving from a house to a bare bones apartment with roommates. If you determine this is the case, recognize that by allowing your child to stay, you're catering to their comfort, not to real circumstances.
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    Don't be a snoop. It's bad enough your child feels unable to live out there as an individual without having parents show a huge lack of trust. Do not invade your child's privacy by going through their belongings. You're all adults, so come out and ask what you want to know.

Part 2
Addressing the Need to Move Out

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    Show a united front. It's very common for one parent to want a child to move out and the other parent to be resistant to the idea. But before you can nudge your child towards independence, you've got to be on the same page. See How to Compromise With Your Spouse.
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    Ask your child if they want to move out. This is a simple question, but will reveal a lot about why your child is still living at home. Usually the answer will be something like "Yeah, of course, but..." followed by a list of reasons why it just can't happen at the moment. Evaluate those reasons objectively, keeping in mind that there are probably other reasons --real reasons - that your child hasn't verbalized, such as that they enjoy having you to do their laundry, or being able to use your car without having to make car or insurance payments, etc. What you want to do is address the verbalized reasons (which, in many cases - but not all - are excuses) one by one, with facts:
    • "I'm looking for a job." Is that true, really? How often are they checking classifieds and job sites? In the meantime, are they volunteering so that they can make contacts, and can account for any gaps in their resume? Are they looking for "a" job or "the" (perfect) job? Are they unwilling to work a minimum wage job until they find something better?
    • "I can't afford a place." Is it that your child can't afford a place, or that they can't afford a place as comfortable as your place? Maybe they can't afford a place in your neighborhood and there's a reason for that; living in a nice neighborhood is one of the rewards of having a successful career. Look around: Where do other young adults live? Does your child feel like they're "too good" to live there? Do you feel like they're "too good" to live there?
    • "I want to save up for a house, car, grad school, etc." This is probably the most legitimate reason to stick around at home, but only if your child is accountable to it. How much do they actually have saved up? What is the ultimate goal? Are they consistently putting money away, or do their savings patterns depend on how many good movies or video games are out that week? If they can prove that saving money is a priority for them, it's all good. But don't just take your kid's word for it. If that's the reason for staying home and getting a free ride, you're entitled to see pay stubs and bank statements, just like financial aid offices are entitled to see tax forms before they provide financial assistance. So you need to develop some strategies to establish a new adult-to-adult relationship.

Part 3
Setting a Deadline

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    If you make up your mind that your adult child is ready to move out, set a deadline. Inform the child that the deadline stands or rent begins, along with associated requirements for paying a share of the water, the electricity bill, heating costs, service costs, etc. Being forced to chip in can often make living independently seem more viable.
    • Have your adult child make a plan. For example, get a job, save paychecks, look for an apartment and so forth.
    • Pick up boxes and get a calendar; start marking off the days with great show.
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    When it gets closer to the date, start going over what the adult child will/will not take with them. For example, furniture, bedding, etc.
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    If the deadline passes, get serious. Send bills and part payment demands. If these are not met, start disconnecting services, cable, phone, etc.
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    If they have made up yet another excuse about why they aren't quite ready to move out, charge rent for their room. Chances are they are not going to be too comfortable paying rent for a room. This will get them mad and they will want to move out fast!


  • As soon as a child graduates from post-secondary, consider making the grad "present" a helping hand with moving out. Roommate will be required and rent will be assisted on a sliding scale that results in no help after the first couple of months. That way, they feel the shortage and get more hours at work. It is less likely to overwhelm but they also learn to get it together and support themselves. Bottom line is "out you go, with love".
  • A more extreme measure is to move. Some parents retire to a more remote, relaxed location where their adult children won't have much fun, or where people under retiring age aren't allowed. You could also downsize your home, and explain to your child that you need to save money for retirement, that there's not enough room for them in the smaller home/apartment.
  • On the other hand, remember that your home was bought with your efforts and your money. You are under no obligation to "work something out" with your adult children. If you simply want to enjoy your home without your children in it, that is your right, of course. It is simply suggested that all parties show some compassion to the others involved in the interest of maintaining a good family relationship.
  • Before deciding to kick your adult children out of the house, listen to your adult children's point of view and let them know the reasons for your opinions. Real adults are willing to listen to other adults to solve problems. Perhaps you and your children can work something out.
  • If you can afford it, a very nice thing that some parents do is to collect rent from their adult children, take a small portion to help with household expenses, but put the great majority of the money in a special account. When the child either volunteers to move, or the parent asks them to move out, the parents present the adult child with the money stockpiled from rent payments. This helps with down payments/move-in fees like first and last month's rent, and the like. Generally this is most successful if the child has no idea that the parents plan to do this until the gift of the cash is presented. It's really best if the child believes that rent money is simply their obligation to pay and that you expect it on time each month - any landlord expects the same.


  • Be sure that your child is not suffering from some mental illness, such as depression. These illnesses can be debilitating. You may need to help them get them help. Although once a child reaches the age of majority (is no longer a minor), you have no obligation to him or her, denying that there is an actual illness working in this type of situation is irresponsible and potentially harmful to your child.
  • Before going so far as to change locks, remove belongings, etc, understand your local laws regarding the eviction of tenants. Even though they are family and may not be paying rent, many places have eviction laws that may apply and must be followed.
  • Remember that the economy is very difficult right now. Jobs can be scarce and low paying, but housing and living expenses are high. Be reasonable in your expectations.

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