One in four young adults - aged between 18 and 34 - are still living with their parents, and the number continues to climb. Now a new piece of research has found that a quarter of them don't expect to be able to afford a place of their own until they are 35 - and 12% don't think they'll be able to afford to move out until they are 40. But is this realistic?
Figures from the Office for National Statistics found that more than 3.3 million young people are living with their parents - which is a 25% rise since 1996. A separate study by the Consilium Strategic Land Fund says that rising property prices are likely to make the figures keep increasing for the foreseeable future.
Benefits of living at home
It makes perfect sense for young people to stay at home for a while. Rents have now climbed into the stratosphere, so young people often have to live in substandard shared accommodation for years if they want to be close to work.
Even when they make huge compromises on living conditions, they may struggle to get the money together to buy a place of their own - so can see no way out. It's easy to see why parents would rather their children live securely at home, and save the money.
When they don't have to pay expensive rents, they can pay off non student-loan debts that they ran up as students and then save up and buy a place of their own. Many parents actively enjoy the company of their adult children while they do so, and aren't in a hurry to see them leave.
However, that's not the full story. A Nationwide study found that 30% of young people who live with their parents are failing to save anything for a deposit, so are enjoying rent-free accommodation (with all food and laundry taken care of), and are using the extra cash to enjoy a lifestyle they really cannot afford. A similar number didn't do any chores around the house, and the same again made no financial contribution to their upkeep.
You could argue that there's something not quite right about a 30-year-old who can't turn the oven on, choose a washing machine cycle, or pay for their own breakfast, but regardless of whether this is a concern or not, their parents are paying a price.
The parents are bearing the extra costs, and in many cases, continue to put off saving for their own future, because their cash is being spent on caring for adult children. A study a few years ago by Standard Life found that those parents who continue to support their adult children spend around £15,490 a year on each child, and 30% say they are sacrificing pension savings in order to do so. It means that in order to subsidise the lifestyle of their children in their 20s and 30s, they are facing real financial hardship in retirement.
What should you do?
Asking children to pay their way, commit to saving for a deposit, or move out, isn't easy. But it's worth bearing in mind that there are other compromises adult children can make.
The Land Fund research found that adult children who had managed to move out, had often moved to another area in order to afford property. They had moved an average of 17.8 miles, while one in 20 moved over 200 miles away and 47,000 people moved more than 500 miles. In future, the research found, they expected to have to move an average of 23.3 miles to find affordable property.
As the Fund said, it's a terrible state of affairs when people have to move away in order to get a home of their own. However, a commute of 23 miles isn't the end of the world. It goes to show that there is something realistic in between living in shared accommodation with a faulty gas fire and living with your parents until the age of 40.
But what do you think? Should parents be encouraging their offspring to take more responsibility for themselves, or are things so difficult for children financially nowadays that they cannot be expected to manage it until their mid-thirties? Let us know in the comments.