The ‘boomerang generation’: The young adults struggling to get on property ladder and forced to live with parents

By Ben Ireland

A ‘Boomerang Generation’ of young adults are struggling to get on the property ladder – with 20% more 20-34-year-olds being forced to live with their parents than in 1997.

With rental prices skyrocketing and lenders short on cash, the ‘Boomerang Generation’ is the new buzzword for our nation’s 20-30 year-olds struggling to get on the property ladder or keep up with high rental costs.

A study by the Office for National Statistics shows 26.2% of 20-34 year-olds in the North West are living with their parents.

The report said: “It is noteworthy that the increase over the past decade coincides with an increase in the average price paid by first-time home-buyers of 40% between 2002 and 2011.”

Classic cases are graduates, struggling in a depressing job market and stunned by the new-found headache of council tax.

As their exams come to an end, and poor prospects of the employment of their choice made worryingly obvious, the easy, or only, way out is to ‘temporarily’ move back with mum and dad to get a new outlook on career prospects.

Jennie Elliott, a 21-year-old graduate of Manchester University, has moved home after completing her degree in Biomedical Science last summer.

She, unlike a lot of her friends, had a firm idea of what she wanted to do prior to leaving higher education, and is currently saving up to embark upon a Law Conversion course.

“Ideally, I wanted to stay in Manchester, but everyone from university moved back home,” she said.

“They have no idea what they want to do, and treat their home like a sort of base.”

Jennie added that she is ‘lucky ’, as her parents have no objection to her staying there, but described the move back as ‘a shock to the system’.

So far, she has avoided any arguments that she conceded could potentially stem from parents’ failure to acknowledge some returning fledglings’ new found maturity and independence.

“I do have to be a bit quieter,” she continued. “My sister is in college, so I suppose I have to be a bit more conscious of waking people up when I come in late from a shift at the pub.

“If I was living with my mates, then I wouldn’t think twice about playing some music or having a shower at that sort of time.”

Working two jobs to save up for her next course, which will help her stand out from the countless graduates seeking work, Jennie spends little time in the house, and thinks this helps to keep everyone happy.

“I miss living with friends, but, in the long run, I thought saving up was the better option,” she added.

In her situation, Jennie is not concerned about the effect on her social life that comes with a return to her parents’, but said some friends have argued with their elders following a noisy night time arrival.

“I was lucky,” she repeated. “A lot of graduates are forced into choosing between location and career.”

A lot of graduates have forged a new life in a city, miles away from where they grew up, and have no intention of moving in with their parents. They may not treat where they once lived as ‘home’ anymore.

The reasons are numerous. Perhaps friends have moved away, their parents have separated or maybe even emigrated as the kids left home.

There are, of course, those who want to keep away from the nest for apparently selfish reasons, even if it means getting by in a job they’re over qualified for – their independence is their most cherished of freedoms.

Even if you have your employment plans firmly set in your mind, the opportunity to earn whilst living in a cheaper, and often free, environment is tempting, even if it’s just for the meantime once you clear your student overdraft.

Rental prices increased by 4.3% between 2011 and 2012 and experts predict a further rise of 3.9% in the following year.

Housing association Shelter’s Chief Executive Campbell Robb lambasted the ‘ideal’ age to move out, said to be 22, and highlights a few factors that contribute to the demise of our younger generation’s full independence.

“These figures paint a vivid picture of twenty- and thirty-somethings in arrested development, with our housing crisis putting the brakes on their aspirations for the future,” he said.

“Our chronic lack of homes that young people can genuinely afford to rent or buy is at the root of the problem.”

He said the government needs to ‘meet these young people halfway’ adding that serious housing considerations must be made for the so-called ‘boomerang generation’ affordable, and criticised the soaring rental prices and ‘out of reach’ deposits asked for by landlords.

“There’s no doubt that young people are grateful to be able to live with mum and dad to save money, but we have to question whether it’s acceptable that this is becoming the norm when we know that they are desperate to be independent and make their own way in the world.”

Prime Minister David Cameron, in his welfare speech back in June, said the system, before Tory changes, is telling young people: ‘Can’t afford a home of your own? Tough, live with your parents.’

“So for literally millions, the passage to independence is several years living in their childhood bedroom as they save up to move out,” he added.

He labelled the boomerang generation as a ‘growing phenomenon’ – part of an increasingly squeezed ‘middle England’.

Picture courtesy of Images of Money, with thanks.

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