Moving Out
December 7, 2006 7:36 PM   Subscribe

I need help bringing up the subject of moving away from home. Any advice?

I'm 20 years old. I've lived with my family all my life, but now I'm finally moving out. I'll be moving in with my girlfriend, who is attending college quite a long way away from where I currently reside. But before you make with the congratulations, there's one small problem: I haven't told my parents. I know I need to, that's not the problem. My problem is how. Do any of you have any advice, suggestions, anecdotes, or any other information on how to approach this?
posted by Spike to Human Relations (30 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
"Mum, Dad, I've got a place lined up!"

why is this hard?
posted by pompomtom at 7:46 PM on December 7, 2006

are you asking your parents to still support you financially, is that the problem?
posted by jourman2 at 7:48 PM on December 7, 2006

Do it at the dinner table. Just come straight out with it after dinner. "Mum, I've been thinking this over for the last month, and it's time I finally moved out. Xxx and I will be living in yyy, and we'd like to be set up by zzz before college starts." Then wing it.
posted by flabdablet at 7:51 PM on December 7, 2006

People grow up and move away from their parents' home, that's what they do. Unless there's some other condition here you didn't tell us about, I'm sure they're expecting/anticipating it. I remember when I moved out right after college. My mom got a little sad, my dad said "Whatever shit you leave here I'm throwing out tomorrow... See you at Thanksgiving!"
posted by Science! at 7:57 PM on December 7, 2006

Is there something specific about either your relationship with your girlfriend or your relationship with your parents that makes you worry they might respond negatively? Twenty is a perfectly reasonable age to be getting out on your own. When I moved out I just simply told them I had found a place with a few friends and would be out in a month. They worried, of course, but once they saw I had a responsible plan in place they were happy for me.
posted by LeeJay at 7:57 PM on December 7, 2006 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I don't know you or your parents, but... just say it. You're nervous about it because you've never done something like this before, but I'd wager it's not something your parents aren't prepared for; parents tend to imagine all the great turning points of a kid's life.

It's best not to frame it around any artifice; just say "so, I've been thinking about moving in with Sally in Wherevertown." I'm guessing you're not going to have any problems after that. (But if there IS an argument about it, remember that you think this is what's best for you, and that's the important thing.)
posted by transient at 7:58 PM on December 7, 2006

Congrats Spike!

Now, we need more details if we're going to help you--why do you anticipate this being a problem?
posted by stray at 7:58 PM on December 7, 2006

Now, we need more details if we're going to help you--why do you anticipate this being a problem?

Key question. Every family is different, of course, but it does seem a little unusual for a 20-year old to be agonizing about moving out of his parents' house (provided that 20-year old is planning to support himself, I guess). More information would probably help people to give you useful answers.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:14 PM on December 7, 2006

Mom, Dad, I'm not saying I don't still enjoy the Spaghetti-Os and my treehouse. They're great. But I think, well, maybe it's time for me to see that big world out there.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 8:14 PM on December 7, 2006 [2 favorites]

(But since you mentioned moving in with the girlfriend, I'll suggest that mentioning your total mastery of modern birth control methods might be a very good idea. I know that would've been alarm bell one going off in my parents' heads had I been moving in with my g/f at that age.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:18 PM on December 7, 2006

When I was 21 I told my dad "Hey dad, I just wanted to let you know I'll be moving out in about 2 weeks. Me and So and So and So and So have an apartment lined up and we move in the 17th."

"Oh yeah, you mind letting mom in on the good news?"

2 weeks after I'd moved out my room had been converted.

My relationship with my parents improved immeasurably.

If your parents freak out, at least it will only affect you for a short period of time. People grow up and move out, and as painful as that may be sometimes its just a fact of life.
posted by farmersckn at 9:10 PM on December 7, 2006

Response by poster: The people have asked for more info, and they shall have it!

First of all, yes, I do indeed have a reasonable plan in place for providing for myself.

Secondly, in regards to LeeJay's inquiry, my father and I have a somewhat adversarial relationship. While he'd probably be glad to see me gone, I don't doubt he'd pass up the opportunity to make it difficult. Essentially, what I'm looking for are ways of bringing it up with a relatively low chance of starting an argument.
posted by Spike at 9:23 PM on December 7, 2006

The thing about moving out, Spike, is that you no longer have to deal with arguments with your father. Hell, you could even just wait to tell him until you're actually moving out. If he starts arguing, just leave.
posted by Justinian at 9:27 PM on December 7, 2006

Everyone's advice to just tell them is right on the money. They are probably expecting it, especially if they know about you being in a serious, long-distance relationship. I think you'll reduce the chances of starting an argument if it's brought up in a non-confrontational, casual way that simply states your plan: "Hey Dad, I've given a lot of thought to my plans for the new year and since I've been doing so well at blah job and I'm out of school, I've decided I am going to be moving out by blah month. I won't need any help with packing or any of my new expenses, but I wanted to let you know the plan so you can start thinking about what you'd like to use my room for."

I was 16 when I told my parents point-blank: "I'm applying to this really good magnet high school and it's important to me and my education that I go. It'll only cost you room-and-board, and being 7.5 hours away from your daughter. Peanuts! Here's the paperwork to sign!" It's really not hard, your parents want the best for you, and they are generally quite happy to see the chicks fly the nest.
posted by nelleish at 9:36 PM on December 7, 2006

Best answer: Are you moving partly to pursue some interest or job in the new city? Are you thinking about going to school there?

Everyone else is right that you're an adult now and it's completely reasonable and good for you to be moving out. But if I were a worry-prone parent, I would feel better if you said
a. "I'm moving to Springfield; I've got friends there and there's a great job at the new hotel" or
b. "I'm moving to Springfield; I want to settle in and work for a while there, and maybe start college next fall"
rather than
c. "I'm moving to Springfield; Sally is the only person I know there but I'm sure it will be great since we've been together for a few months. It can't be hard to find a job, right? I'll just figure it out when I get there."

(A plan like c can actually work fine; I just mean I would spin your explanation to your parents more along the lines of a or b. Emphasize how the move fits into some forward-looking plan of yours, not just how it will mean moving out of their place and into gf's place.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:45 PM on December 7, 2006 [1 favorite]

Another point to ponder is, how much stuff do you have to move? Will you be able to load up your necessaries in a car and just make one trip by yourself? If you have a ton of stuff to move, such that you need adversarial dad's cooperation with the plan, then it's harder.

Here's hoping that he/they will be glad to hear about your plan. (And presumably there are some aspects of it that will appeal to them more than others -- obviously, emphasize the appealing aspects!)
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:54 PM on December 7, 2006

Response by poster: Heheh, Justinian, don't think the thought hasn't crossed my mind. I should also point out, as LobsterMitten suggested, my mother is extremely worry-prone. As my relationship with her is not nearly as bad as mine with my father, I'd like not to worry her too much if I can avoid it. (In further response to LobsterMitten, I do have a fairly solid job plan.)

These answers are sounding solid, though, thanks everyone for the help. That said, I'm certainly not closed to further suggestions.
posted by Spike at 10:02 PM on December 7, 2006

Response by poster: Ach, this is what the preview button is for, isn't it?

LobsterMitten, yes, I should be able to pack the necessities into my car ('95 Altima, it's no U-Haul but it's got room), and send the rest UPS or somesuch. That said, I wouldn't mind if things went smoothly, since there are a few things I definately won't be able to move right away, and it would be nice if they didn't find themselves on the curb the morning after I left.
posted by Spike at 10:09 PM on December 7, 2006

Your girlfriend's already settled, yes? Send the stuff you can't move in the car ahead of time if you can. Unless there's a really good reason why you can't ship it by UPS earlier, I'd try to get that out of the way as soon as possible.

Your dad will, with any luck, be far less adversarial once you're gone; if you're not there to butt heads, there's not much to be angry about. The general tendency is for the parents to forget the petty arguments and territorial disputes once you're out of the house.

Your mom is going to worry. That's her job. Your job is to make her feel silly that she ever worried because you're doing so gosh darn well on your own.

Good luck!
posted by chrominance at 12:49 AM on December 8, 2006

When I was 18 I went to Europe for a year because my boyfriend of almost a year moved away and I was sulking. Three months later I emailed my parents (about a paragraph) to tell them I was going back to Australia, but moving to Brisbane to live with the boyfriend instead of home to Melbourne. I've never been good at communicating significant news, and I knew that they wouldn't like it at all (for religious as well as other obvious reasons). They ended up being pretty good about it, just kind of shell shocked, and I do get on better with them now.
posted by jacalata at 3:46 AM on December 8, 2006

Will your dad question your judgement or make you feel bad about yourself or insecure? Maybe, if he's that kind of guy. But the "folks, it's time for me to move out" conversation is a regular ol' growing-up milestone. Stay calm, remain confident that moving out is a perfectly normal thing for a 20-year-old to do, and don't get defensive. Remember, this isn't an argument.
posted by desuetude at 6:15 AM on December 8, 2006

If you aren't comfortable with telling them you are moving out perhaps you aren't ready to BE moving out.
posted by konolia at 6:36 AM on December 8, 2006

Mod note: a few comments removed - please take it to metatalk if you need to argue
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:22 AM on December 8, 2006

Best answer: Think a little bit about what you're going to say, and anticipate any negative comments they might make, and then formulate a response to those comments. Your mom will worry no matter what - you can just try to minimize it. You might tell them together and then have a talk with your mom later, casually, to put her mind a little more at ease.

Do your absolute best not to get pulled into an argument. If it helps, make it this your silent mantra: "I am moving and soon I won't have to deal with this, I am moving and soon I won't have to deal with this."

If they offer advice, listen to it. You don't have to take it, but give it some honest consideration. If there's some advice that you feel like you can take or not take and it doesn't really matter, just take it and express appreciation.

It's natural to think that you're moving out and moving on and now you're going to be totally self-sufficient. I remember thinking that, and it didn't exactly work out that way, at least not immediately. One day you might need or want to stay with them for a little while, for one reason or another, so don't burn any bridges.

Good luck! This is an exciting milestone, enjoy it.
posted by KAS at 8:10 AM on December 8, 2006

I just want to echo desuetude and KAS: Try your hardest to not get defensive. If you feel yourself getting defensive, remind yourself that this is NOT an argument with your parents; it's a statement of fact: You are moving.

Explain to them your plans for how you'll make money out there to support yourself, and when you intend to next visit with them.
If your father puts down your plans, don't engage with him, just calmly explain that this is your decision, and if it turns out to be a mistake, then it's your mistake to make.
Tell them that you appreciate that they've always been there for you, and you hope that they always will be.

In other words, this is a great time to start the transition in parent-child dynamics from post-high-schooler-at-home to self-sufficient-adult.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 8:54 AM on December 8, 2006

If your mom is more sympathetic and easier to approach, maybe take her aside and tell her first. That way she can adjust to the news on her own, and you two can share a nice moment without the friction you're anticipating from your father. Then ask for her support and help in informing your dad, maybe later that day, presenting a united front and keeping the tone positive.

Good luck, you'll do fine.
posted by tula at 9:43 AM on December 8, 2006

I have had kids move out and get on their own. I can tell you it is great. Peace at last. Finally time for the two of us parents. Just be sure you do not have to rely on their help to move or pay future expenses. If you are grown-up enough to be on your own then do it. We see them often, talk often and they did the right thing.
posted by JayRwv at 10:07 AM on December 8, 2006

Maybe your father is being adversarial because he wants you to move!!! Next time you have an argument, tell him, "Pops, I have good news for you. I am moving and we won't have to waste so much energy arguing anymore. Isn't that great?"

Tell mother immediately thereafter.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:52 AM on December 8, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone, for your advice and input. I plan on trying to talk to them about it this evening, I'll let you know how it turns out.
posted by Spike at 3:59 PM on December 8, 2006

Response by poster: Sorry for the delay. Everything went far smoother than I anticipated, thanks for all the advice!
posted by Spike at 9:18 PM on December 9, 2006

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