As a single, living with your parents isn’t a good idea
Donald Hirsch, Professor of Social Policy at Loughborough University/Channel News Asia
Thorny dilemmas like how much of the household bills you ought to pay are hard to resolve when parents consider kids to be family instead of paying lodgers, says Donald Hirsch at Loughborough University.
Gone are the days when living at home in your 20s was seen as an embarrassing sign of arrested development.
Today, 63 per cent of single adults in the UK between the ages of 20 and 29 live with their parents, as do just over half of 25- to 29-year-olds. This inevitably raises issues about how families share costs, and what sort of living standards both older and younger generations can maintain in this arrangement.
At the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, we’ve established a Minimum Income Standard, based on what income members of the public say is necessary for a person to meet their material needs and participate in society.
According to our latest research, a single person living on their own in a rented flat needs to earn at least £18,400 (US$24,100) a year, rising to £27,000 in London, to reach this minimum standard.
A DIFFICULT DYNAMIC
The parents we spoke with saw sharing the family home as a way of helping their sons and daughters to get established. Some hoped it would assist them to save for a deposit on a house, or take other steps towards independence.
But many parents couldn’t help observing cases where their children leveraged this help to spend far more than they expected, for example by buying the latest technological gadgets, or eating out frequently.
As a result, parents wondered whether they were wrongly subsidising such a lifestyle, when their grown-up children should be taking more financial responsibility.
PAYING THEIR WAY
These tensions emerged most clearly in discussions about how much young people living with their parents should contribute to household costs. Both the young adults and parents taking part in our study agreed that, while parents would pay most household bills, they should receive some contribution from the young adult in the form of a regular “board” payment.But there was little agreement on how to establish a fair price for this payment.
Some participants thought it would be good to have some guidelines, yet attempts to formulate them revealed a wide variety of views over how much a young adult should contribute. All of our participants felt that it would depend on the financial situations of both the young adult and their parents.
Some parents argued strongly that trying to create a formula for this contribution missed the point that a family relationship is not a commercial relationship, as with a landlord: It is guided by emotions, not just rational principles.