Parents are great… for the most part.
Those who have the option to live with their parents are increasingly finding themselves knocking at mum and dad’s door asking for a place to stay.
If you’re one of the lucky ones, your parents (or parent) will welcome you with open arms and only be too excited to do all your clothes washing and cooking again. Other parents won’t partake in this coddling, but I’m sure at least part of them would be happy to have you back home.
Increasing numbers of young people who have already left home and sought independence are finding themselves in this position where they need to lean on their family.
This isn’t necessarily a negative situation to find yourself in. Speaking from personal experience, I’ve temporarily been in this position numerous times and it’s been a great help and comfort.
I’m fully aware that being lucky enough to have caring and supportive parents is a position of extreme privilege and one that I’m extremely grateful for. With that in mind, I’m also fully aware that many aren’t so fortunate to have this option so I apologise if none of this applies to your family situation.
Why Are More People Moving Back In With Their Parents?
In the UK and Ireland, the trend of living with parents well into your 20's has become pretty much the norm for a lot of people. The popular choice of younger people to move in and out of their family home multiple times has even been dubbed the “boomerang” phenomenon.
This growing trend of staying at home longer, or returning home periodically, is for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it’s become increasingly difficult for people to purchase their own homes. This increased expense has made it harder to save up for a deposit/downpayment to buy a property. So many people have chosen the sensible route of living at home longer and either paying no rent (if they have particularly generous parents) or a lot less than they would with a private landlord.
Secondly, in lots of cities, urbanisation and the rising cost of property has also pushed up rent prices. So younger people are being stung from two sides. If they do decide to rent privately and save up to buy a house, they are forking out more money for a rental and then also have to save more to afford a property. Living with your parents can help alleviate this issue. So it’s no surprise that so many are choosing to do this.
Thirdly, jobs and careers are much more fluid than they were in the past. This can be a good thing as it allows people to explore different paths and find what’s right for them. The flip side of this is that it can be harder to be approved for a mortgage without job stability. Even more importantly, people don’t want to take on the risk of a giant suffocating mortgage with no assurances that they’re going to be able to keep up their payments. This point has been exacerbated by the Coronavirus situation where almost no industry or job is safe. However, the industries that have been hurt the most so far like hospitality, entertainment, events and activities, are also industries that are likely to employ a larger proportion of younger people.
So the climate was already tough for people hoping to buy a home and the tornado of Coronavirus has indefinitely wrecked many people’s plans and dreams of home ownership.
With all this in mind, moving back in with the old folks seems like a good place to harbour and temporarily prevent any further shipwrecks.
Stigma around older people moving home
Moving back in with parents or family seems reasonable then for younger people, but what about people in their 30’s, 40’s, or even 50’s who may no longer be classed as “young”.
Older values told people that they had to get a job, move out, and become independent at an early age. As this has become more difficult, that complete autonomy is being pushed back later. Those old school values are still being applied when todays economic climate, especially around home ownership, is completely different.
Nevertheless, I think the older you get, the more you feel like a failure for leaning on family or parents, even in times of desperation. Most families would choose to help one of their clan if they needed it, rather than see them suffer. Yet a lot of people are afraid to turn to their families in times of need because they think it certifies them as a loser and they can’t bare to think what other people would think about them moving back home. So instead they rack up debt on credit cards or high interest loans to save face and avoid this “embarrassment”.
This stubbornness is kind of crazy. There are plenty of people around middle age who have made poor financial choices, finding themselves with no stability, living pay cheque to pay cheque. Or worse, have put nothing aside for their own fast-approaching retirement. Moving in with family where you can be treated more favourably than out on your own, even for just six months or a year could make a massive impact on your life. Using that chunk of time to get yourself back on your feet could be so important to the rest of your life, rather than spiralling further out of control and into really deep waters.
Moving back in with family may mean a bit of a knock to your ego, but you’ll get over it. More importantly than your pride, this may give you the opportunity to get your life back on track. Even better, if you do feel a sense of shame about this back-step, you’ll probably do everything you can to make sure you don’t find yourself in the same position again.
I know that I would happily endure a few months or a year of “embarrassment” instead of showing off a home I can’t afford in order to get my shit together.
Now obviously this has its limits. I’m not suggesting a “Step Brothers” situation where 40 year old men are living with their parents indefinitely and being spoilt rotten. You can still be a grown ass woman or man about it.
Moving in with family shouldn’t be an act of shame or a signal of failure. Anthropologically, humans are designed to rely on their close community (or family) to support them in times of need. We have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years taking care of those closest to us.
It’s natural, not weird.
What’s weird is people sinking their families and their finances down the plughole, especially if they’re lucky enough to have loved ones who care about them.
Breaking down the numbers
Older, more fortunate people should frown less upon the younger generation for having to live with parents well into their 20’s or 30’s. I’d love to see a Baby Boomer try and buy a £248,000 house (the average price of a home in England) earning just £20,000 a year whilst forking out £600 a month on rent to a private landlord.
Let’s roll some numbers with this common example above:
Take home pay after tax would be around £17,000 per year.
With rent taking away another £7,200 per year from that sum.
Another £2,600 for food and groceries (based on £50 spend per week).
Another £2,600 per year for public transport or fuel to get to/from work.
Then another £600 for bills (based on £50 spend per month).
The total disposable income left is just £4,000 for the whole year!
Assuming this person spends absolutely nothing on anything fun like entertainment, sports activities, or holidays; it would take them 12.5 years to save up the recommended 20% deposit for that average £248,000 house! That’s 150 months… almost the same length as some people’s mortgages!
Don’t be scared
There should not be any stigma around people looking to their family for support if and when they need it. Getting to spend more time with family should be celebrated, regardless of the circumstances.
If you have the option to lean on your parents or family and move back in with them, do it. Especially if you need too. The burden of mental and financial stress is not worth it, when for the most part, I’m sure they’d be happy to help you.
This situation with the economy and housing is what it is. Hopefully things will improve and there will be more affordable housing and tighter controls on private landlords. But those changes aren’t going to happen overnight.
So if you need some help, don’t be afraid to ask for it!