It’s a defining social trend of our age – young adults moving back in with their parents because they cannot afford to live independently.
It’s given rise to what we call the Hotel of Mum & Dad. And while some parents are thrilled to have their offspring back under their roof, others find the added expense and the impact on their routines much harder to deal with.
The unaffordability of house prices and rent are driving this change. Millions of adults in their 20s and 30s simply don’t earn enough to save for a deposit and secure a mortgage, while crippling rents, especially in the big cities where the jobs tend to be, can burn through a month’s salary with little left over for other living expenses.
According to the Office of National Statistics, over 3,350,000 adults aged 20-34 were living with their parents in 2018. That’s a shade down on the 3,370,00 peak the previous year, but when you consider the number was below 3 million in 2011, you can see the long-term pattern.
In some cases, the youngster will have come home after finishing university, perhaps with the intention of moving out once they get a job.
Others will have left home at some point to start work, but then found that renting with friends or in a shared house was financially unsustainable. Or maybe a relationship has broken down and their change in circumstances leaves them with no option but to move back in with the folks.
Whatever the reason, households across the land are having to adjust. If that sounds familiar, have a look at our suggestions on how to run a successful Hotel of Mum & Dad…
Rules is rules
It’s your house, so it’s your rules.
Well, that’s a good starting point for discussion, but you may find that a willingness to compromise and adapt will help make your home a happy one. Ruling with an iron fist may not be the best bet.
Sharing accommodation can be a strain for all concerned, even if they are close family, so it’s important everyone is aware of others’ needs and feelings. It’s probably a good idea to have a sit-down chat with your child early on, just to set some boundaries and expectations.
What these boundaries are will be down to you and your partner, so maybe agree your script beforehand so you can present a united front.
Money, money, money…
One topic to get out into the open as soon as you can is money. Will you charge rent? Will you expect some other sort of financial contribution, such as contributing to bills or doing the weekly shop?
If you can afford it, you might be happy to provide bed and board if it means your child can start saving for their own place. But if turns out they’re emptying your fridge on what seems like a daily basis, taking 20-minute showers every morning and treating you like a taxi service because they can’t afford their own car, you might have second thoughts.
Having someone extra in the house affects everyone who’s already living there, whether it’s just the parents or other siblings as well. So everyone needs to be conscious of each other’s space, show consideration and make allowances.
Whether it’s hogging the bathroom, monopolising the TV remote or finishing off the last packet of biscuits, there are bound to be moments of tension. As the patrons of the Hotel of Mum & Dad, you’ll probably find yourselves deciding how to resolve these situations.
Time & motion
If there are several adults living at the same address, it’s reasonable to assume they wont all be operating on the same timetable.
One person might need to be up and out of the house by 7.00am, say, while another enjoys an active social life that keeps them out until the early hours. Some may favour eating at the dinner table, others might prefer to eat off their lap in front of the TV.
Again, their may be times when schedules clash and difficulties arise. But our old friends consideration and compromise should be called upon to smooth things over if possible.
Not under my roof…
One potentially delicate matter for some parents will be whether they’re comfortable with their adult child bringing a partner to stay overnight.
How you deal with this as a parent is obviously an individual choice, but it’s worth thinking about how you would react if the circumstance were to arise for the first time.
We know of some instances where parents have welcomed their child and his or her partner to live together in their home while they save for a house deposit. Clearly, not everyone has the space or inclination for such an arrangement, but it works for some families.
In most cases, the Hotel of Mum & Dad will eventually say goodbye to its special guest. Sometimes, perhaps a couple of years later, their younger brother or sister might come to stay. Each family, and therefore each hotel, will have its own history.
But what happens when the hotel is not longer needed is another story. Will the proprietors breathe a huge sigh of relief? Will they sell the family home, downsize, and bank the profit? Or will they feel a pang of nostalgia for the days when there was a light left on in every room, the Wi-Fi signal wasn’t snaffled by a plague of devices and they didn’t have to constantly police the thermostat?