We can romanticise moving back in with our parents all we want—but that doesn't address the reality that young adults are doing so because they're stuck in a bad economy that's only getting worseby Clara Hernanz-Lizarraga / September 17, 2020 / Leave a comment
On a late summer Sunday, Daniel Clifford sat for dinner at his parents’ home in South Shields, a town that slopes down to the River Tyne in the northeast. His father had made lamb, served with mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes, carrots, peas and gravy. Daniel could not remember the last time they had a family meal together; it must have been years ago, judging from the expired gravy mix on the kitchen’s shelves.
At 34, he had just moved back to the parental home, a small semi-detached council house he first left nearly a decade ago after finding a “proper job” as a project manager at an arts organisation in Birmingham. For the past two years, he had been a programme coordinator at a charity in Manchester, but he decided to quit in March, not suspecting that a pandemic would make it incredibly difficult to find work again. After lockdown, he broke up with his partner and found himself with nowhere to go but his childhood home.
Hitting historic heights
Like Daniel, thousands of young adults have gone back to their parents’ in recent months. In the US, 52 per cent of 18- to 29-year-olds now live with their parents—the highest share ever recorded. Comparable data for the UK is not yet available, but according to Professor Ann Berrington from the Centre for Population Change at the University of Southampton, the wave of job losses at the end of the furlough scheme would compromise young people’s pursuit of independence.
Research by personal finance website Finder.com found that as many as 10.5m Britons had moved home due to the pandemic, with over two-thirds saying they expect the move to be more permanent and have no move out date in sight. Meanwhile, columnists are gleefully weighing in, deeming the move “cool” and “financially astute”; “an act of resistance” that rejects “the establishment’s prescription of success,” or decrying the average £2,700 that returning adult children added to household bills during lockdown. Others advise parents on what to do to help their kids “maintain true independence” without them “lapsing into comfort” (the short answer: “invite them to clean [the house] themselves…