It seems to me that a good number of folks who have boomerang "kids" may actually want them to return. But are we really doing our offspring any favors by allowing an indefinite extension of childhood?
Let's think about this. Where did you live when you were first starting out? I'll bet it wasn't quite the Taj Mahal.
Our first place was a one bedroom former screened-in porch that had all the weather proofing of the average wiffle ball. It was a veritable private zoo of insect vermin -- and we were glad to have it. We were proud and happy to be on our own.
Smacking my head on the five foot high kitchen ceiling/outside stairwell overhang a few hundred times made me really appreciate the move up to some better digs.
We rejoiced in every improvement of our living conditions -- because we worked for them. Moving into a real apartment, then a duplex until we finally saved up enough to make the down payment for an assumed loan on an about-to-be-repossessed starter home.
The place was a cat pee saturated disaster but we worked like crazy on that funky little domicile until it was quite livable and we had real pride of ownership. Who am I to deny my offspring those same pleasures?
There was also a huge financial upside to this process. During the eleven years we occupied our "starter home" we established credit, refinanced it to a conventional loan at a much lower rate, built up thousands in equity and sold it at a substantial profit. We had stashed away a tidy sum of money without even thinking about it!
None of this would have been possible had we spent our twenties and thirties living with mommy and daddy.
One of our readers, Ruthie, recently relayed her story of woe and resolve. She had a 34-year-old boomerang "kid" who was becoming more and more dependent as time went on. Her breaking point occurred when, in the middle of a sales meeting, she received a call from her son to inform her that there was no milk for his cereal! The frightening thing was her response -- she was about to drop everything to make a home delivery.
Instead, Ruthie made a decision then and there -- she put her house on the market. She informed boomerang boy that she would be moving to a condo on the beach. He would not be joining her.
Here's to Ruthie --- an inspiration for empty nesters who just can't say no to their offspring. Before that boomerang leaves a nasty lump on the old noggin... SELL THE NEST!
Beyond eliminating the boomerang effect, selling the nest could have additional advantages. Many of us have been faithfully pouring money into our homes for decades and now the empty nest has become the nest egg. The time might be right to cash out and buy a smaller crib, or no crib at all. Pocket that dough and live a little. Travel, write The Great American Novel, go back to college -- get out and grab that brass ring.
After decades of raising kids, the question shouldn't be why, but why not. C'mon, no need to keep up that big old house when you could be in a sweet little condo on the beach like Ruthie. Spread those wings and fly south for the winter.
This way, when the chicks try to return to the nest to take up residence in the basement, they won't know the owners. Wouldn't it be a blast to see the surprise on their little faces? Almost like that Christmas morning long ago when they actually did get coal in their stockings... OK, maybe there wasn't really any coal... but it's MY memory and I'll remember it how I want it to.
Selling the nest could also mean that when the kids come for a visit to the new smaller digs, they'll need a motel. Now we're talking. How about that -- actually spending time with them without the house getting ransacked or feeling like a live-in maid? Who knows -- perhaps they'll even begin to act like adults!
All of this said, it's important to acknowledge the fact that the housing market, even though it is making a bit of a comeback, is still pretty rough in some places. Depending on where the house is, selling the nest may not be such a great option right now.
In our case, when we recently sold our house, we made a decent overall gain even after the recent losses. We had to take a good bit less than the asking price and I'm not going to lie -- it was pretty scary, but we're glad we did it and haven't looked back since.
Even in the bad markets there can be other options. Test the waters of life after kids using the nest as a home base. Maybe rent out the nest and use the income to chase the dream while someone else pays the mortgage, then sell when the market gets better. Get creative with your freedom.
Taking a plunge is not always easy, but as Veronica is so fond of saying when conquering her fears, "people do it everyday and don't die."
YOUR TURN: What was your first home like? Have you thought about selling your nest? Have you sold your nest want to share your experience? Do have suggestions for parents with boomerang "kids" wanting to change their situation?