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Assisted Launch: Parents of Stay-at-Home Kids Raise the Rent

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The high cost of rent and difficulties of getting onto the housing ladder have conspired to prevent many young people from getting their own places to live after graduation.  Instead they have returned to the family home, in record numbers, earning themselves the soubriquet’boomerang generation.’  According to a report published late last year by housing charity Shelter, 1.7m adults between 20 and 40 are living with their parents purely because they cannot afford a place of their own.

It’s a long term trend in itself – since 1997, the number of people between 20 and 34 living with their parents has risen by 20%, or half a million people, and now rests at 1.6 million.

More than 5, 000 people were interviewed by Shelter for YouGov, and Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said the results “paint a vivid picture of 20- and 30- somethings in arrested development.”

Mr. Campbell went on to say that “our chronic lack of homes that young people can genuinely afford to rent or buy is at the root of the problem,” and added that the housing shortage was “putting the brakes” on young people”s aspirations.

However, the older generation often has a different take on this.  Nearly half of all parents questioned by Shelter said that they worried that having their children living with them was preventing them from living a “fully independent adult life.”

Long term, the average age of a first time buyer is creeping up, though first time buyers are having a slightly better time of the mortgage market recently.

Many parents had expected to be reducing their outgoings or enjoying their retirements, but instead are facing care costs for elderly relatives and continuing to support their children into adulthood.  Four in ten of those Shelter spoke to said they continued to do a “big shop,” buying for their children as well as themselves at a time when they had hoped to see their outgoings go down.

A relatively small proportion said that financial input from their children had helped to bring down family outgoings, despite the fact that the majority charged their children rent.  And there were other drawbacks too: one in five said they had had to cut back on spending on holidays and one in ten said they wanted to move house, but couldn”t because their children lived there.

However a recent study by myvouchercodes surveyed over 1500 parents with adult children living with them.  Of whom just over half were charged rent.  The survey found that the average rent charged was £250 a month a year ago, but has gone up 25% to £315 a month.

Mark Pearson, chairman of myvouchercodes, said, “I don”t think any parent likes taking money of their child, but it is a good way to prepare them for the future, when they”ll have to part with a lot more of their earnings each month for bills and such.”

As well as trying to teach their children about the cost of living, some families may have raised the rent on their kids because their financial contribution is more than tokenistic.  Many cited “increased living costs” as the reason for raising the rent.  Others, meanwhile, are deliberately making it more difficult to stay at home, in a bid to reclaim their old age.

Of those polled, 12% said that having their children living with them was straining their relationship with their kids, while a further 12% said that it was straining their own relationship.

But a firmer parental push might not be enough.  When asked when their children would be able to afford a home of their own, even if the worked ahrd and saved, 40% of parents polled replied “never.”

Photo credits: Crystal via Flickr