Picture the scene: you have lodgers who may or may not pay any rent, roll in at all hours, eat everything in the fridge and always leave the top off the toothpaste. Sounds less than ideal, doesn’t it?
When you read about ‘boomerangers’ – adult children returning to the family home in their 20s and 30s – you might see them portrayed like this, but speak to parents and children in this situation and the reality is very different.
A generation under pressure
While there are lots of factors behind the boomerang trend, most are underpinned by money. Many of us have experienced our own children facing the colossal sums needed to get on the housing ladder: an average of £33,000 is needed for a house deposit 1 and rocketing rents now average around £939 a month in the UK 2. Add that to the average cost of living independently – around £14,500 a year 3 – plus the fact that average graduate salaries range between £19,000 and £22,000 4 and the numbers speak for themselves.
It’s unsurprising then that so many young people are choosing to return to the family home, taking the opportunity to get on their feet financially either by living rent-free or paying a small amount to help parents cover costs. With this now a common family set-up, let’s dispel the myths behind the headlines.
Myth 1: Adult kids are returning home to live lavish lifestyles
Many young people find themselves returning home because, financially, it’s a case of having to rather than wanting to – 72% of young people living at home say they feel ‘comfortable or alright’ financially, as opposed to 44% who rent 5.
Low-cost living at home means young people can save sizeable chunks of their monthly wages to put towards things like a deposit on their first home, that expensive move to the city or to clear some student debt.
Myth 2: Parents feel the pinch on their disposable income
Of course, having an extra person at home means increased energy bills and an extra mouth to feed. Try a smartphone app that can help you calculate the increased cost of food and utility bills – for example, Fudget and Dollarbird – so that you can ask for the right contribution from your boomeranger. Plus, with discounts on multi-car insurance, bulk-buying at the supermarket and joint ventures such as car-sharing, more people could actually mean more savings.
Myth 3: Adult kids at home make parents miserable
That’s what some headlines proclaim – but many parents and their grown-up children say moving back home has been a positive experience.
Ros from Bristol is one of these parents and is enjoying having her 33-year-old daughter Sophie back in the family home. “She’s very supportive of me if I'm going through a difficult time – in a really practical way,” explains Ros. “And the mutual support is a strong element of why the relationship works. Neither of us is leaning too much on the other.”
Myth 4: More ‘housemates’ means more housekeeping
Setting ground rules early on can create lots of other hidden benefits to the arrangement for parents, such as increased home security (with more people likely to be around), pet-sitting duties when parents are away, and shared chores.
If boundaries are set from the start, this new family arrangement can be a positive experience for parents. And if the children aren’t paying rent or are paying below market rate, they can save.
And after all, let’s face it – if anyone’s going to leave the top off your toothpaste, wouldn’t you rather it was the child you tearfully waved off carrying their backpack and a saucepan, as opposed to some stranger in the spare room?
Get even more info on how to help your boomeranger set themselves up financially with our breakdown on how to start investing.
The value of the investment can fall as well as rise and could be less than you have invested.