What to do when the empty nest is full once more
continues, another 500,000 will have to move back in with their parents in the next decade.
Young people are trapped in this housing market, unable to scrape together the ever-growing amount needed for a deposit. The average asking price is £307,245, according to Rightmove, well above many first-time buyers’ price ranges, especially in London, where homes are on average 13 times the median salary.
“The problem of adult children returning to the fold is one of the tricky impacts of the lack of housing provision in this country,” says Ed Burgess, of Burgess Architects. “I’ve seen it happen among people I know and the quite dramatic effect it can have on relationships. Both the children who have been away at university and their parents get used to a new level of independence, and it can be hard for both when they live together again.”
While moving back home saves young people an average of £8,000 per year, it is proving costly for their parents, according to the price comparison site MoneySuperMarket. It estimates that the average cost of having an adult child live at home is £1,042 per year, with a further £1,742 needed to be spent on home upgrades, renovations and furnishings before they move back. “Parents probably feel an obligation to accept their child home to give them this leg up, but for them it is a real compromise,” adds Burgess.
“It used to be that a school qualification was enough to make a good living. Then it took a university degree or a short apprenticeship,” says Dr Michael Muthukrishna, assistant professor of economic psychology at the London School of Economics. “Now it requires postgraduate degrees, internships and volunteer work – which can be unpaid – as well as on-the-job training. This has meant that the age of people having their first child, owning a home and becoming financially independent has been steadily rising.”
Laura Jackson, 30, is one of those young people who has moved back into the house she grew up in. After Alevels she worked in various admin jobs, before deciding to go to university part-time to study psychology, while working as an assistant earning £12,000 a year. “Even when I was working full-time, the wage I was on meant that my boyfriend and I could only afford a house where we were sharing with six or seven other people.
“We did move into a one-bedroom property for a while, but it didn’t feel a very safe area. Then when I became a student again, even though I was working to support myself through it, my parents and I decided that it would be better if I moved home for a bit.”
They discussed a nominal rent to live in her family home in Camden, north London – “£100 a month, just a token of my appreciation really” – and Laura and her boyfriend Nathan now live in her old bedroom. She hopes to move out in a year’s time after she has finished her teacher training. “We’re a very close and honest family, but it has still been hard,” adds Laura. “The main
Treburvaugh House in Powys has an annexe for boomerang kids, left, £685,000 with Strutt & Parker; Laura Jackson, who has moved back in with her mother Debbie, main