Empty Nest Egg

Nest For Sale!

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 had 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 are we to deny our 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, volunteer in your community — 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 your 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 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.”

David, GypsyNester.com

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?

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31 thoughts on “Empty Nest Egg”

  1. Our first home was a rented dump near the Winnipeg airport. We loved it. Couple of homes later and back to Canada’s east coast, we loved our final home and its location and private wooded yard in the city. But,the closets were too small. We needed a bigger house…we hung in there and when the kids Moved out we realized we didn’t need bigger closets…we needed less kid. So we gutted the house, removed a bedroom and made our home very much like an open concept condo, doing all the work just we two. We will keep our home we worked our buns off for and they will carry me out in a pine box that won’t be much smaller than my less than 1000 sq foot home is.

  2. We haven’t had a boomerang yet – in fact, our oldest 2 recently moved hundreds of miles away and are gainfully employed. The youngest is in college and holds down 2 part-time jobs to have her own place. Our house is going on the market in 2 years when she graduates and I’m pushing for a condo at the beach! (Our first place was a one bedroom apartment with laundry in the basement 4 flights down, but hey, at least it was in the building!)

  3. While our oldest majored in economics and quickly found gainful employment in another city, child number two has been not so lucky. She graduated last May and is having trouble finding a job in higher education or working with youth. Her degrees are in history and Jewish studies. She and her younger sister have been out of the nest working camp all summer. As the rejections come in, she’s getting discouraged in this tough job market. On the bright side, she’s keeping her options open by applying all over the country. Baby girl will head back to college in a few weeks. I think she’ll have an easier time finding work in the event management industry. It’s hard for kids to find jobs these days. While we are encouraging them to find something, we’re not throwing them out on the streets.


    1. All three of ours have faced the current job situation, our youngest is currently juggling four part time jobs because it may take a while to find a full time one in his field (pilot). But two of those part times are flight instructing so he is using his skills and doing whatever it takes to get by. There is a big difference between getting a newly graduated kid on their feet and allowing a boomerang kid to move in for an indefinite period. That is our point. Also, every situation is different, so you should always do what works best for your family. All the best to your family!

  4. My house currently has a revolving door as my kids cycle through in between college semesters and on the way to graduate school. I guess they can’t really be called boomerang kids yet,and they both seem quite anxious to be out on their own. I guess we’ll see.

    But I for one am more than ready to sell the nest and ditch the large garden in favor of some containers on a balcony and freedom to leave Ohio winters behind. Just trying to talk my better half into it…

  5. Our first apartment had no sink in the bathroom, no heat in the bathroom, and a five-gallon hot water tank. Luckily, I worked at a college and took many of my showers at work. When we moved to our second place, we were so excited that there was a radiator in the bathroom! We couldn’t afford to keep the heat higher than 60 degrees, so when our daughter was born, she came home from the hospital (p.s.–we had no health insurance, so we had to pay for her birth on the installment plan), she was wrapped in blankets. Consequently, she still, 34 years later, breaks into a sweat when the temperature is higher than 75 degrees. When we bought our first house, the real estate agents thought we were nuts when we were seeking a place where there was at least a 20-gallon hot water heater, a sink AND a radiator in the bathroom! The next place we lived in for 24 years, and we really liked it, but we had no driveway (many snowstorms in the great northeast!). We had taken in my sister’s children. When they moved out, following our kids having moved out, we downsized into a small ranch–purposely, so that NO ONE, not children nor nieces–can move back in. When our daughter comes home with her husband, she has to stay in a hotel. If either she or our son comes home alone, they can stay here, but otherwise, it’s hotel-land for them. I like it this way. I don’t want my life, which I worked hard to earn, disrupted.

  6. Our first apartment was a one bedroom basement apartment with a view from the “front” door of a cemetery – quiet neighborhood! Our next one was 2nd floor apartment in a 3 family. When the C5A’s took off from the Air Reserve Base their lights would be shining at me through the kitchen window where I would be washing the dishes. Lots of dishes rattling around!

      1. we did! A single family on the other side of town; also on the other side of the base. Don’t really notice the noise from the planes too much anymore after 20+ years and we have a great view of the air show!

  7. I like my parents’s story about their first place–a WWII surplus trailer with no running water or bathroom. (Dad was a grad student at Alfred University). They finally got an apartment when they woke up one morning and there were icicles hanging off the bed! Both our sons boomeranged for 3 months after college. They didn’t want to be with us and were in active job searches, so I was glad we had a place for them. I think the “rules” have to be flexible, but it’s important to recognize the line between assisting and enabling.

  8. Such an important topic. My kids won’t be moving back unless they are in a real crisis (e.g., health). Lack of a job will not be a reason. When I think about all the great houses we turned down when looking for our first because they cost too much and then I look at the outrageous sum we paid for our current house I have to laugh. Our first apartment wasn’t much bigger than a masterbedroom/bath combo. It included a dog, a full drum set, and all the mice you could want.

    We won’t be selling it all so kids can’t move back, but we’re in the process of buying property in France as a vacation/work landing pad. It will have one bedroom and a foldout couch. If my kids ever want to see it they have to find their own way over.

  9. My children are still young, 11 and 7 so I’m a long way off from this issue but I pay attention b/c I have a BIL who is 31 and still at home with no job and no incentive to get out. I already tell my 11 year old that no matter where you go to college, even if you can walk there from here…you have to move out! If you don’t go to college, you have to move out! Why, b/c I love you and want you to be a productive, responsible adult and learn to make your own way in the world! Honestly I don’t understand why you have to sell your home to get rid of an adult who doesn’t own it with you…GET OUT…give them a date then put their stuff in the driveway and change the locks!

    1. We also felt it was important to tell our kids that they would be expected to start their own lives after high school. We wholeheartedly agree that communication is key!

  10. My first apartment was one room with a refrigerator and a couch which pulled out to make a bed, plus a bathroom. There was a hotplate in the bathroom which I used for cooking. When I tell my grown boomerang kids about this, they roll their eyes like I am telling a “walked ten miles to school in the snow” story.

  11. Our first apartment was a small duplex near the end of the runway at a major airport. The planes were so low you could see the glow from the cockpit when the planes were landing, and all conversation had to be put on hold until they were gone. But it was home, and it was OURS. 🙂

  12. we didnt have an apt but lived in the basement of a house for many years. It was great, gave my daughter baths in the kitchen sink and it was really just one big one room, I wouldn’t trade it for anything now

  13. My husband and I shared a bedroom in a house with 2 other people and then we finally got our own 2 bedroom apt. and the only 3 windows faced another apt in the parking garage and it was the best!!

  14. Our Priest came to visit shortly after we moved into our first home. He took one look around and asked when the rest of our furniture would be arriving. I was actually proud of our hand-me-down furniture and cinder block and plank bookshelf. He couldn’t understand why I was laughing.

  15. I am 40 (1/2)I have a 20 year old who has a 1 year old baby and no job. He currently resides in the garage. I advised him that sometime between now and Jan of 2012 I would be moving to Tennessee, some 450 mi away, and that he needed to get his head out of his behind and find a job and a place of his own. To date he has put in a couple of applications. I guess when I start packing my stuff in my vehicle for real he will get the picture. Sometimes no one really is home and the light bulb needs replaced. Can’t wait to take a picture of the “priceless” look on his face. 🙂

  16. I have been cracking up over your blog for a week now! Thank you for having it. I do have a spin for you- we MOVED OUT of our house when the kids didn’t take the hint that they needed to find work and a place due to the house we were renting getting foreclosed on. Rude awakening, but that fire under their butts made lala land come crashing down. Is it just that generation??

    1. lol patti we did the same thing to the kids best move we ever made. lit a fire under their behinds now they are handiling it on there own sometimes they do need that awakening.

  17. Parents who allow their grown offspring (I’m not saying ‘children’ because they are NOT)- if you allow your offspring to depend on you like that, you are CRIPPLING them!! That 34 year old has to start out with a HUGE handicap, his age. Employers expect inexperience in a 20-something, but not in someone who is over 30. He may NEVER catch up to where he would have been if they had pushed him out of the nest at 20. It’s really sad.

  18. My husband and I were in many ways happiest when our rentals were tiny and we owned next to nothing. We actually had time to enjoy life instead of spending our free time fixing up a house, taking care of a yard, and picking up stuff.

    I’m all for starting out on one’s own with next to nothing and then figuring out a way to keep it like that! That is the ultimate good life…

  19. “People do it every day and don’t die.” Great midlife motto to live by. I remember the “apartments” and starter houses (ours was cat pee soaked too, whats up with that?). I remember paper decorations on my first Christmas tree and of course, bookshelves made of bricks and lumber. These boomerang (parasite) kids don’t know what they are missing.

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