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'Boomerang' Kids Return Home After College

Dreams are tested in a tough economy

This young man is a boomeranger when it comes to tossing one.  Is he, himself, one as well?
This young man is a boomeranger when it comes to tossing one. Is he, himself, one as well?

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Ted Landphair

Going away to college used to be the ultimate flight of young people from the nest. It represented freedom for them and their parents alike.

But last school year alone, instead of flying free, a whopping 85 percent of seniors about to graduate from college told researchers they were moving back home to Mom and Dad.  

They had no choice, they said. Job prospects were grim in a struggling economy.

According to one estimate, 20 million young-adult Americans who left home for all sorts of reasons have moved back. Some could not afford the high cost of rental housing on their own. Or they got into trouble with credit-card debt.

Last year's 'New Yorker' magazine cover perfectly captured the boomerang-kid phenomenon. Note the look on his parents’ faces.
Last year's 'New Yorker' magazine cover perfectly captured the boomerang-kid phenomenon. Note the look on his parents’ faces.

Others just wanted to save some money, or realized it’s a pretty good deal living rent-free, getting home-cooked meals, while they dabble in acting, play in a garage band, or contemplate what they want to do with their lives.

“Boomerang kids,” they’re called - flying far away for awhile but circling back home.

And thousands of boomerangers are knocking on grandma and grandpa's doors as well.  The New York Times discovered that in many towns, once the old folks come up with the money to move into a condominium community, younger relatives happily join them.

If you peek at the tennis courts, swimming pools, or exercise classes at America’s “active adult” luxury retirement communities, you’ll see not just gray-haired men and women but also much younger adults in the prime of their lives.  

Not that there aren’t tough choices at the gated retirement village. Should we do aerobics today, or play golf? And what did you say is on the menu for dinner?

It’s true that going home to your parents or grandparents has its drawbacks.  But how many bachelor pads have central air conditioning, a washing machine and dryer down the hall, and keys to the family car hanging by the door?

Wait, these boomerangers tell the Times, despite the amenities of condo life, there are hardships. Living with parents or grandparents can put a real damper on one’s love life.  

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