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first direct finds family units benefitting from ‘boomerang generation’

09 Feb 2017

A new study from first direct investigating the views of ‘boomerang’ kids and their parents suggests the re-joining of the ‘family unit’ is frequently more mutually beneficial than is reported, with multi-generational households forming new improved relationships with each other.

The term ‘boomerang generation’ is increasingly commonplace as one quarter of young adults aged 20-34 find themselves moving back into the parental home, often with negative connotations and stereotypes of financial support, sacrifice, and even embarrassment.

Adjusting to change

first direct ’s research highlights the constant struggle with sky-high housing prices and rents that many young adults currently face. A shift towards longer-term relationships and marriage later in life means 77% of boomerang households are made up of parents and single children (41% male and 36% female) who simply cannot afford to live elsewhere or would struggle to save a deposit without the support of their parents (39%). For others, the family home has provided a much-needed life line after a bad breakup (21%) or graduation (16%).

The study confirms many families struggle to readjust now the children are adults and the need to respect one another’s boundaries and expectations has shifted.

Improved relationships

However, one in five parents said the company and friendship of their child was the best part of having them home, with 15% admitting their social life had even improved as a result.

Overall, a higher proportion of both children (40%) and parents (37%) confess the experience has actually improved their relationship and friendship (as opposed to 22% of children and 14% of parents who said it’s had a negative impact).

With only 18% of boomerangers contributing to their parents rent/mortgage, many parents end up out of pocket when grown up children return home. Even though average monthly outgoings increase by £133.20 (equating to £1,598.40 every year), over half of parents (55%) say they take the financial hit as they know their children are contributing all they’re able, and 45% say it makes them feel happier doing so.

Tracy Garrad, CEO of first direct , commented:

“With both parties having lived independently, often for several years, our research suggests the biggest challenge for boomerang households is readapting after becoming accustomed to more privacy, space and established routines.

“Parents may also lose out financially, but it seems this is a trade-off most are willing to accept as it means they’re helping their children to get back on their feet financially.”

The stories of the boomerang generation

To highlight the positive impacts on families of the societal trend, first direct commissioned documentary photographer Emily Macinnes to visit a range of boomerang families around Britain; uncovering the reasons why they returned home and finding out how mum and dad really feel about the nest suddenly being full once again.

Emily explains: “Having moved back home myself when I left university, I experienced first-hand how the dynamics between parent and child develops into a much deeper relationship based on respect and friendship.

“Spending time with so many different boomerang families over the past few weeks has confirmed how positive and enriching it can be to move back home, despite the often-negative social connotations.”

The stories of the boomerang generation

Emma, 26: “We have dinner together most evenings”

“I rented in London for a few years, but a lot of my friends and family were still in the North.  Moving back means I’m now spending a lot less time and money travelling to see everyone.

My younger brothers George and Oliver are also back at home, which means our house is full of friends, family energy and life, which I love. I think my Mum likes the fact we’re all under one roof again too!

“We all have busy lives but despite that, we manage to have dinner together most evenings after a lot of texting to figure out who’s in and who’s cooking.”

Sheree, 23: “It’s the emotional side of home that I appreciate”

“Since I boomeranged home to West London, it’s safe to say my Mum and I have become firm friends. We spend a couple of evenings together each week, either at home cooking, watching TV in our pyjamas, or meeting up for a drink.

“Moving home was the obvious choice for me when landed a new job in London. As well as being an easy commute, being at home means I can start to save to buy my own place too. But it’s the emotional side of being at home that I appreciate the most.  I live with someone I truly love and know that when my mum asks how her day has been, it’s because she genuinely wants to know.”

Louise, 23: “I’ve been settling into my career and saving for a house”

“After graduating I was faced with the choice of renting with friends or moving back home to Manchester. I decided that moving home was by far the most feasible, and appealing, option.

I landed a dream post-graduate job and have been using the time at home to settle into my career and also save enough money to buy my own house with my boyfriend, who is also living with his parents.

“As well as being able to save, I get to benefit from the home comforts and support of my mum and Andy, who are always on hand to offer advice and rescue me in car-related emergencies! In return, I offer advice and hints from the latest YouTube beauty vlogs, which my mum loves.”

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