The number of young adults living in the family home well into adulthood is growing. ABS data indicates, amongst adults under 35, nearly one third are still at home, and the trend is on the rise. i
If managed well, multigenerational living can be beneficial to both your adult kids’ financial goals and your relationship with them, that said it’s not without its challenges.
What’s behind the shift
Today’s young Australians spend longer in higher education, stay single for longer or choose not to tie the knot at all and start families later than previous generations. They’re also living through a period of sluggish wage growth, high underemployment and youth unemployment and despite recent corrections, a housing market that is inaccessible for many first home buyers.
There are however, young adults who use living at home as a strategic move, with 28% using it as an opportunity to save for their financial goalsii – like owning a home or planning for a big trip.
Benefits of having a kid at home
Helping kids save for their future isn’t the only benefit of continuing to provide a roof over their head. For many, especially those who boomerang (returning to the nest after a period away), it offers the chance to build a relationship on a level footing. You get to know each other as adults which can be a wonderful thing.
Having adult kids at home can also mean you get help with the domestic duties and maintenance around the house or assistance looking after younger siblings.
Problems can arise
Despite the benefits, in some cases continued cohabitation can become detrimental to the relationship. Common gripes include: entitled kids who don’t contribute to costs and chores, and overbearing parents who continue to treat their offspring as if they were tantrum prone toddlers.
Equally worrying is the added cost of having an extra mouth to feed and the associated costs of an extra member in the household. If you are a parent in this situation, make sure the not-so-empty-nest is not derailing your retirement plans. According to a 2018 study, Aussie parents spend a combined $235 million each week on adult children living at home.ii
Set boundaries early
Communication is key to making co-habitation with adult kids work. This means staying in touch to make sure everyone’s expectations are understood and that boundaries are in place. If your kids are earning, are they paying board? How much are they contributing towards groceries and bills? And what about household labour?
On the parent’s end, there also needs to be some flexibility. Are you happy to have your child’s friends over to socialise? Are partners allowed to stay the night? Rules around curfews that may have been appropriate when they were a teenager may not be relaxed enough to allow your adult child freedom so as not to become resentful.
Both parties need to be aware of each other’s boundaries and expectations early on to set the foundations for a happy domestic life.
While your adult kids are at home it’s a great time to make their financial dreams a reality. Frame it as a shared goal, one that you all have a stake in. If both sides are willing and eager to uphold their side of the bargain, it will alleviate tension and make the goal more likely to succeed.
It might look like this: the parents allow their offspring to live with them rent free, provided the kid puts away 40% of their income towards a house deposit. You can have a system in place to prove this is happening and regularly meet to help make sure everyone is staying on track.
Not always the right choice
It’s important to acknowledge that cohabitation is not the right choice for all families. If things aren’t panning out well, be honest with each other. Then work together to find alternate living arrangements.
Modern kids are likely to come and go throughout their lives. Treasure the times you have living together while making them as fruitful for both your relationships and finances as possible.