No laughing matter: the adults returning to their childhood bedrooms

“Language, Timothy!”

It’s one of those markers of a generational divide – if you remember the catchphrase from Ronnie Corbett’s popular series ‘Sorry!’, about a grown man living with his overbearing parents, you were probably born before 1980.  But for the children of the eighties and nineties, living at home in adulthood isn’t a sitcom plot, it’s increasingly their reality.

Our new research shows they are finding themselves leaving the family home only to return again because of the high cost of housing.


“Language Timothy!”- Ronnie Corbett featured in sitcom Sorry! about a grown man living with his mother. Picture taken from Wikimedia Commons.

The ONS reported in 2014 that there had been 25% increase in the number of young adults aged 20-34 living with their parents since 1996. And our new research, using a YouGov survey, out today shows that even when they are in work, many young adults are returning to the family homeWe found 20% of employed 20-34 year olds in England have moved out of home, only to return again in the last year. On top of this, a further 15% have never moved out.

Lived at home in last 12 months

Source: YouGov, September 2015. Base: 20-34 year olds in full or part-time employment (527)

The majority who have lived at home in the last year said the main reason they still lived at home was the high cost of housing (56%). This includes those trying to save up for a deposit (with 35% citing this as the main reason and 44% saying it was a consideration) and those who found renting too expensive (with 21% citing this as the main reason and 37% saying it was a consideration). And just to remind you, this is even though they are working.

Reasons for living at home

Source: YouGov, September 2015. Base: 20-34 year olds in full or part-time employment who have lived at home in the last 12 months (179)

Being stuck at home is taking its toll.  Over six in ten (62%) were worried it was holding them back from living an independent life and almost eight in ten (79%) thought that living in their own home was an important measure of independence.

A previous poll we did in July last year suggested there was a degree of shame attached to still living at home. Three in ten (31%) 20-34 year olds in the UK who were still living at home felt embarrassed about it and 15% had pretended on at least one occasion that they didn’t.

The truth is though, these young people are lucky to have had this option. There are many out there that don’t have the choice to live at home with their parents in order to save up and avoid the costs of housing whilst working. Private renters have to fork out nearly half (47%) of their take-home pay on rent, according to the latest English Housing Survey, making it unlikely that they’d be able to save anything substantial and meaning they risk being stuck in private renting forever.

Over the course of the next Parliament, the Government needs to make sure that those struggling to keep up with the rising costs of housing are helped. However, there has been little evidence so far that any of the schemes being proposed will help those struggling in the private rented sector or stuck in their childhood bedrooms. Without greater investment the Government’s reforms risk undermining overall housing supply. What we need is greater investment in tried and tested genuine affordable housing, not untested new gimmicks.

One Comment
  1. May be Shelter needs to change attitudes, that living at home is ‘okay’. It is a more efficient use of our housing. What good are family homes with empty bedrooms?.

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