Lauren Ramsdell had a year to kill in between finishing college in May and getting married next year. So she decided to move back in with her parents.
It made the most sense, the 21-year-old graduate of Elon University in North Carolina said. She had no immediate job prospects and with a wedding coming up, she wanted to save money while looking for a job and plotting her next step.
Plus, she missed her parents and her hometown of Raleigh, and "I don't think there's any shame in that," she said.
"Just because you move home doesn't mean you've failed," said Ramsdell, who has a degree in journalism and art history. "There used to be a logical progression: college, job, move on with life. But that's not happening anymore."
More than half of college graduates move back home, sociologist Katherine Newman wrote in her book, "The Accordion Family: Boomerang Kids, Anxious Parents, and the Private Toll of Global Competition," based on surveys conducted worldwide.
And many of them are finding it isn't as painful as it sounds, she said. By setting ground rules and establishing expectations on both sides, parents and their adult children are learning to live together.
"People anticipate it will be more complicated than it turns out to be," said Newman, dean of the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. "It's remarkably smooth for most families."
Perhaps that's because it's such a common phenomenon. A Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. census data found that the share of Americans living in multigenerational households is at its highest level since the 1950s.
Overall, 39 percent of adults ages 18 to 34 say they either live with their parents or moved back in at some point in recent years, according the report. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, 53 percent said they live at home or moved in temporarily, compared with 41 percent among adults ages 25 to 29, and 17 percent among those ages 30 to 34.
For adult children, part of the fear of returning home has to do with being torn away from their social circles. But, thanks to social media, especially Facebook, they're staying in touch with more friends from different times in their lives, Newman said, and finding that others are moving back home, too. The Pew report found that among adults ages 25 to 34, 61 percent said they have friends or family members who have moved back in with their parents over the past few years because of economic conditions.