Q and A: 'Kidults' still living at home

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What’s with the increase of the 20-something 'kidults' still living at home and is it a positive for the child and parent?

The active role of parenting is a longer journey today compared to the past- extending from birth, through the dependent years, adolescent years and now well into the 20’s. This has created some new social trends: the boomerang kids (the large number of children in their early 20’s who leave the parental home, only to boomerang back a couple of years later as the costs mount), the sandwich generation (today’s parents sandwiched between the time and costs of their stay-at-home adult children, and the care of their own ageing parents), and this generation of late 20-something KIPPERS (Kids In Parents’ Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings).

However for all the labels, there are some clear reasons for these delayed lifestages. The rising cost of living, housing affordability challenges, prolonged educational years and consequently larger study debts have put this generation further behind where their parents were at the same age. In addition to the higher costs, greater debts and delayed earnings are the mobile lifestyles, technology expenses and increased travel, all greater than that of their parents.

Therefore for a generation who have pushed marriage and starting a family back, from the 20-something years into the early 30’s on average, staying longer with mum and dad is not only a social option but for many a financial necessity. Based on modest rental costs, this option of staying at home with mum and dad, when compared to even modest shared accommodation costs of $250 per week represents a saving of around $15,000 per year by the time that the saving on some food and bills are included.

However, while there is a financial cost on parents, there is a social gain. Many parents in conversations with me have expressed that while they jokingly complain about the arrangement, the connection it gives with their children, the likelihood of them staying nearby as the grandchildren appear on the scene, and the many ways that it keeps parents in touch with some of the trends and changes of Generations Y and Z are all great benefits.

The key to family harmony in these new households is to ensure that parents and their payments aren’t taken advantage of, and that the adult children aren’t treated once again as dependents. A simple agreement setting out the financial contributions and domestic tasks of the family members, with an expiry date when the agreement can be re-assessed is a practical help. That way we will likely create multigenerational harmony not intergenerational conflict.


More on changing household structures can be found in Mark McCrindle’s book The ABC of XYZ: Understanding The Global Generations.

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