when should a child move out - moving out at 18

Moving Out at 18 – When Should A Child Move Out?

Are you wondering if it’s the right time for your grown child to move out?. Maybe, you believe your kid is old enough and you’re ready to toss your little bird out of the nest and let ’em fly, but you’re feeling unsure. Then you’re at the right place! We’ve put together some guidance to answer when should a child move out and Is moving out at 18 the best age to move out?

Whether they are headed to college or not, it’s a huge adjustment for all parties involved. An argument could be made that moving off to college is more often a soft transition. College kids tend to get more continued help from their parents and school. Nevertheless, such a huge life change can be emotionally challenging, even if everyone seems to be ready for it. 

When Should A Child Move Out?

​These days it’s no longer as common to move out at 18. It used to be the norm to move out after high school. And legally, your kids aren’t entitled to live with you past 18 years old.

But according to Time Magazine, you may want to consider letting your kid stay longer. The idea is that allowing them to stay will “help them make the most out of the financial breathing room you’re providing.”

A May 2016 Pew survey indicated that 18-34 year olds are doing just that. “A record 32 percent of young adults live with their parents. 

For the first time in more than 75 years, living in Motel Mom is the most common kind of living arrangement.”

In fact, according to the Pew survey, living with a parent became the most common young adult living situation in 2016 for the first time on record! A luxury that aged out foster youth, don’t have.

Moving Out at 18

If you’re looking for a good age to move out, start with 18 or whatever age your child graduates high school. Ending high school and going off to a career or college is a good goal to set. You can be flexible as the time approaches if needed, but it’s important to be clear about expectations ahead of time.

moving out at 18

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When Should A Child Move Out?

If your child is disrespectful to you or your house, wasting money, and just sticking around because they’re lazy, it’s probably time to start them on their way out the door.

It really depends on the circumstances and your relationship. If your adult child is respectful, helpful, and contributing or even necessary to help keep your household afloat, it’s OK to let them stay a little longer.

Regardless, there’s something to be said for letting your kid struggle. Sometimes kids don’t want to move out because they like the free food, the nice house, and all the perks that come with the years of hard work you put in to get there. Starting out on your own should be a step down in a standard of living, that’s just reality.

Can a parent kick a out an 18 year old legally?

Hopefully, you can come to an amicable resolution, without legal help. You don’t want to end up like these parents, whose unemployed son was a 30-year-old poster child for lazy adults living with their parents. He wasn’t contributing and refused to leave until they sued to evict him. 

Do be aware that in some states, after 18, your child becomes a tenant and has tenant protections. It’s not as easy as just telling them to go.

In the above story, the parents won and the son was evicted. So precedence may be on your side, legally. With help from the tips below, hopefully, you won’t have to evict your child out of the house.

How to Deal with the Empty Nest

Maybe it’s not just them, it could be that you are the one having a hard time letting go and want to keep them around for as long as you can. It’s understandable, this change is hard for parents, too. But moving out and becoming financially independent is part of your child’s journey to becoming a successful adult.

If you are getting the sense that maybe you are the one keeping your little birdie in the nest, it may be helpful to check out the following books that can help you feel good about letting go.

Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children: Six Steps to Hope and Healing for Struggling Parents.

Author Allison Bottke shares her tough-love approach to parenting adult children to set you free from the repeated pain of your adult child’s broken promises,

On the other hand, maybe you’ve tried all you could. Perhaps you want them to go and you feel you’ve done everything you can. Maybe you are at your wit’s end. Allison has also been there.

You may also want to consider one of her other books When Our Grown Kids Disappoint Us which gives guidance for coping when the dreams you had for your children clash with reality.

She offers a strategy for when your smart, capable “adultolescents” won’t leave home or come boomeranging back.

5 Steps to Get Your Grown Child Out of the House

Helping your grown child move out successfully requires some preparation. There’s a lot you can do to ease the transition with some advanced planning.

young woman holding a box and plant following steps to move out

Step 1. Start The Conversation Early

Ideally, you’ll have begun setting the stage years in advance saying things like..
“When you finish high school and it’s time to move out…”
“When you turn 18 and foster care ends…”

Discuss where they might like to live, how they will pay rent and bills. Help them to visualize and begin the mental preparation for moving out on their own. Achieving any goal starts with being clear about what the outcome will look like.

Sell the Advantages of Moving Out

If you are picking up on some hesitations, help your kid to list the advantages of living on their own. Pepper your conversations with these selling points too.

“When you have your own place, you can decorate it like that.”

“You are welcome to stay up as late as you want when you have your own place…”

Keep the Conversation Going

A conversation is more than you talking and selling, it’s listening. Ask questions and listen without judging or giving advice. Sometimes kids just need to work things out themselves. Do what you can to make it easy for them to talk to you.

Don’t let it drop altogether, however. Not talking about moving out may give your adult child the impression you’ve changed your mind or that it’s not important.

moving out at 18 - how to get your grown child to move out - Pinterest

Step 2. Gather Essential Documents

The next thing you can do to prepare is to gather all of the documentation your child will need to do the “grown-up” things in life. They’ll need to have security and access around such things as their social security card, birth certificate, and more. They’ll likely need guidance on how to organize and safely store their important documents.

It can take a while to obtain any missing vital documents. So it is advisable to start the process of gathering their important documents several months in advance of the move-out date.

Step 3. Find Affordable Housing

To increase the odds when moving out, help your child find an affordable first place to live. It ought to be a “move down” from your house. It took you a long time to get where you are today. It’s a more valuable life lesson to learn to live within your means than to start off independence struggling to maintain a lifestyle you can’t afford.

Don’t just pick a place out for them. Include them in the search process. Then, when it’s time for them to move again, they will know precisely how to do it themselves.

Step 4. Set Up A Budget

Steps 3 and 4 could be done in either order. But usually, an area will dictate what your minimum rent will be. So it makes sense to start the search first to get a general idea of what reasonably affordable rent is, then help your child build a budget around that.

For instance, in Los Angeles, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a shared bedroom for $500 a month, a room all by yourself will cost you a cool $1,000 and a one-room condo hits at around $2,000. But in rural Louisiana, you might be able to find a small house for $500 or less.

Don’t forget to budget for the bills that go along with living independently, such as electricity, cable, gas, and water. And even if they are on a shared cell phone plan with you, it’s time for them to pony up for their part.

12 Cheap But Awesome Gifts For College Students

Step 5. Figure Out Transportation

These days young adults are not only moving out later but driving later and later. According to statsista.com, only “61 percent of 18-year-olds in the U.S. had a driver’s license in 2018, compared to 80.4 percent in 1983.”

For foster youth, the numbers are even more extreme. There are no national statistics, but this article about foster youth in Florida indicates less than 3% of foster youth have their driver’s license by 18.

Factor in making essential trips, like traveling to a job, getting groceries, or getting to and from school. Getting a driver’s license and a car might be an essential part of getting around. Maybe your child needs to learn how to navigate public transit, bike trails, or learn how to use uber.

Some Final Thoughts on Moving Out at 18

Getting your grown child to move out may require a great deal more than what is covered here. Every family is unique and every situation has its nuances.

This article by NYU Child & Adolescent Psychology provides some great tips for helping parents and kids manage the psychological impact of transitioning to college. 

Whatever the case, helping your child learn how to succeed in life will improve the odds that they move out successfully and stay independent.

Need more help getting your young adult to move forward in life? You’ll want to read:

Great Gifts for College Students

How to Set Goals in Life

How to Manage Your Time Wisely

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    1. So what do you do when your kid is a 28 year old college student who won’t even discuss moving out? He’s been in college for TEN years and says he doesn’t believe he’ll be finished anytime soon. He is only getting his bd degree but also works full time but he’s dragging his feet on this because he’s never had any intention of moving out. So what can we do to. ?

      1. Hi Sandra,

        That sounds like a tough situation. It’s great that he’s in school and working full time. Hopefully he’s paying his way through school and/or helping you with rent?
        You’re definitely not alone, as far as having a kid that just won’t move out.
        It’s hard to say what’s going on, if he is unwilling to talk. And right now is so hard with the pandemic.
        Definitely make sure to keep boundaries within your own home for now that you are comfortable with – whether its him cleaning, paying, noise etc. – whatever will make it easier for you while he stays.
        There’s just so many nuances to each situation, but if you can find ways to ask questions about moving out or anything somewhat related & just get him talking – you may discover what’s holding him back & be able to find a good approch.

    2. So what do you do when your adult kid is a 32 year old is a manager and who refuses to grow up and be responsible for herself. Kyla has been kicked out everywhere due to her behavior, oppitional behavior disorder, schizophrenia, ADD, antisocial disorder, problem with hygiene. She’s been out of college since 2012 college with many certifications and minors and bachelor degrees which she had never done anything with. She only gives excuses to everyone and lies about even applying for jobs or even maintaining employment. She’s drags her feet on this everywhere… she plays a victim to get in to people homes the becomes unruly, rude, oppositional a threat to owner, because she never has any intention of moving out once in anyone’s home… So everyone has to taken extreme measures to cut her off. She refuses to grow up. So what can we do to?

  1. Great details and information. I wish I had this back when my kids were moving out. It can be such a emotional time that this is very helpful.

    1. I wish I had read it when it was time for me to move out! I knew nothing about managing important documents!

  2. I wish my parents had run my credit before I went to college!y identity had actually been stolen. So much useful information!

    1. OH no! I know, they say you should check on it for all your kids on a regular basis. I haven’t done it for my kids yet though :O

  3. great post our children have moved out years ago but this is definitely a great resource to help parents for sure. Thank you for taking the time to help because as we all know parenting can be a challenge and it doesn’t end when they turn 18.

  4. This is a practical post with all the necessary information for having everything in place to move out of the home and into independent living. This is a very helpful list for parents who are newly launching adult children. Even with all the preparation, however, it can still be bumpy sometimes, as things are forgotten. It can also be overwhelming for both parents and kids. Thankfully, after transitioning and growing used to the new arrangements, the new normal kicks in, and everything smooths out by the grace of God.

    1. Never hurts to start running the baby’s credit reports now – just to make sure no identity gets stolen

  5. I think this is a great topic to teach on your blog. My children left the nest several years ago. But one adult child returned for a couple years after college and paid her college off completely by living rent-free for that period of time. Our other adult child moved in with their spouse after that and paid off much of their debt as well as saved money for a down-payment for a house. They were respectful of our rules, and my husband and I were happy to help them out since our house was big enough. Our children were careful not to be wasteful with the money they were saving, but actually used it to pay their debt down. I realize this could have turned into a nightmare, but we all were considerate of each other and have maintained healthy relationships with our children and their spouses.

    1. That’s so great! It’s wonderful that they had somewhere to land & give themselves a chance to re-launch! A lot of kids don’t have that… like foster kids who age out.

  6. What helpful suggestions. I never considered all of these details, but I can see how helpful it would be to young people who have never taken on the full responsibilities of adulthood before. Thank you for the thoughtfulness in this matter.

  7. This is SUCH great info for me! My daughter will be graduating from college this May, and well, it’s time to have the “adulting” talk with her. I have taken notes from your blog, and will most definitely discuss how to store and keep important documents. Thank you SO much for this post!

    1. Perfect timing! So glad to help. I’ve been putting a lot of thought and research into what kids need to be successful on their own as adults – that’s our mission for the foster kids!

  8. Practical and helpful, and I also appreciate the complexities you touch on: it’s not always easy to know when it’s time for your (young) adult child to leave! I love what you’re doing, Christina. I wish I’d had access to this kind of info when I was bouncing around from home to home, and I thank God you’re out there providing it for young people who so desperately need it.

  9. What great, practical tips you have! Some of this information is useful for those of us whose kids have left long ago. Fabulous post! God bless!

  10. This is really helpful stuff, Christina. We have 1 less than a year in the working world and still living with his college roommates, but soon to be on his own. He’s only got 2 of those documents in his possession, so I have somework to do. Thanks for the list! I bet it’s a big help to those leaving foster care.

    1. It’s especially important for kids in foster care – they have access to a lot of supports – depending on the State, but they need paperwork to get it!

  11. Thank you for suggesting how should I keep my kid out. I like you suggested that parents must empower their kids to be more responsible alone. The kids can also use the money you provide for them to invest in property like family homes for sale.

  12. These are great tips! I wish I would have known most of these when my son moved out. But I still have a tween daughter at home so I can save this for later.

    1. Thanks Michelle! You can definitely start setting the stage for the next child to be ready to move out when she’s grown!

  13. What do you do when your adult child (20) has mental health issues (bipolar, personality disorder) and is on medication but refuses to go to therapy? She has no job, motivation or goals. Doesn’t contribute except do dishes once in a while if she feels like it. Up all night, sleeps all day. It’s frustrating to watch.

    1. Hi Laura,

      Thank you for sharing. That does sound very frustrating. Bipolar is a difficult disorder to manage. I know that w/ the pandemic, those with mental health issues have particularly struggled. You might try directing her to our post, how to set goals in life. It has step by step instructions for building up dreams and goals. I think the most difficult challenge right now is getting her to a place where she sees some hope and wants some help. We can only help others as much as they are willing to help themselves. Praying she finds the spark to get her going.

  14. I am currently in this situation. Mine is not so great though. My adult son is not making any progress in leaving home. He recently left his job because it was too much for him. Constantly tired and worked long hours. He comes up with tangible plans but never executes them or sees them to completion. It is becoming extremely expensive and emotionally draining. It’s caused a strain on our relationship. To be honest, I am now just tolerating his presence and it saddens me.

    1. Hi Rainbow,

      That does sound really challenging and draining. It’s a difficult world to move out into right now. I know anxiety & depression are at all time highs – especially with young adults. Hope you can get to the bottom of it, get him up and going, and can restore the relationship to where you are both happy.

  15. I have been in this pickle for a while. My eldest is 26 and never left home. She has been disrespectful and destructive and causes problems with her sisters. She works full-time, but doesn’t always go to work so she misses out on money she could be earning. I helped my other daughters with living expenses for 6 months when they moved out. Unfortunately, they returned after they lost their jobs due to the pandemic. The younger two have been preparing to leave again, but the oldest kid of mine has no intention on leaving. I’m fed up!

    1. Hi Kina,

      That does sound really frustrating. As you can see in the other comments, you aren’t alone in the struggle! Sounds like there’s definitely some deeper issue going on with your oldest. Hope you can find the help (probably connect her to a therapist?) to get her moving on!

  16. Very frustrating situation indeed. We have been overly patient, our son just turned 40. For 16 years, no suitable employment without transportation. No mass transit here, either. Poor job market. Now I’m WFH due to Covid, which just made things worse. The tantrums from the next room while I’m trying to work, and when I try to sleep at night are unbearable.

    1. Oh wow Carol -that sounds so hard! And the pandemic and lock downs are only making things worse. Praying you are able to find a solution.

  17. My granddaughter is 36 years old is very nice and contributes bi-weekly to the household she has been with me for 10 years she worked a part-time job for 2 1/2 years at a fast food restaurant she worked at walmart for 1 1/2 years and she saved 3,000.00 she quit walmart because of the hours and the flexible scheduling so she found another job working graveyard at a casino she makes 7.75 an hour and pays bi-weekly and she says that she wants to move to chicago and has been saying that she going to get a second job so she can save some money but never does she said that this summer when it gets warm she was going to visit chicago in may for a week and when she comes back she is going to get a second job and hopefully she would be gone by October at first she said she was moving to Dallas but that changed now she is saying that she is moving to chicago for the 15.00 minimum wage increase what do I

    1. It sounds like she has the interest. Maybe help her look for places to live, figure out how to find furniture (craigslist)… try to make it fun & exciting while you help her lay out real plans. I’m sure it’s probably a little bit scary for her after living with you for 10 years. Keep the conversations going!

  18. Wow. My son is 25, no job. No ambition. Has everything given to him, yet doesn’t appreciate any of it. Mental health issues are under control with medication, but there isn’t any hope on the horizon for him getting his own place or a steady job. I’m desperate for a break – I need a vacation, but I’m now retired and have to figure out how to get him launched at SOMETHING!

    1. That sounds tough. It’s definitely a challenging situation. And right now especially, more adults his age are living or have moved back home than ever before in history! You are not alone in the struggle.

  19. I love the article.
    My son used it in his speech class and needs to list the citations. What month and year was this published?

  20. So my 25 year old son has his own place, but my 23 year old step daughter wantes to keep her room. Shes never there and lives with her mother. She uses the room for storage and says that she wants to keep it becasue its been her room for her entire life. She works full time and is never at the house. My 11 year old and my 16 year old son share a bedroom because she doesnt want to move all of her stuff to her moms. I think shes being selfish and should take all her things to her moms and let the younger boys have their own room. What do I do

    1. Well – I think what the 23 year old wants is to know she’s welcome and has a place in your heart and in your home. But that can happen without her owning a room. You’re right – it’s not fair for the boys. I can’t tell you what to do – but if it was me, I’d find a way to kindly give her space (a nice closet or other room), let her know she’s always welcome there, and but give the rooms to those who currently live there.

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