Kirsty McLuckie: Moving out of a parental home is a lot more difficult than it used to be

Two of my close friends this week shared happy news about their adult children.

One pal sent pictures of her daughter’s newborn baby to our Whatsapp group, prompting cooing all round.

The other sent photos of a charming two-up, two-down terraced house in Stonehaven that her son has just bought as a first-time buyer, and it struck me that the reaction was not dissimilar.

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Both life events – starting a family and buying a first home – are worthy of congratulations, because most parents want nothing more than for our offspring to be settled in their own families and households.

Image: Adobe Stock
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But recently outside forces have changed the traditional way that youngsters fly the nest.

Two years of lockdowns, rises in property and rental prices, and the cost of living crisis has meant that moving out of a parental home is a lot more difficult than it used to be.

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Even before the recent crises, the number of adult children living at home was creeping up. Some42 per cent of young adults aged up to 34 lived with their parents in the UK in 2020, compared with the36 per cent recorded in 1996.

Such statistics are seen as a result of a lack of opportunities, but not all families want to wave goodbye to their kids and live the life of Reilly.

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And, for the younger generation, a life of independence might not be all it is cracked up to be either.

A study by David Wilson Homes published this week revealed that one in four Brits in families whose children had left home want to live together again.

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The housebuilder surveyed 2,000 people and found 28 per cent of parents want their kids to return, while 30 per cent of sons and 20 per cent of daughters would like to move back with their folks too.

It is not a sentiment echoed in our household, but perhaps that is because we haven’t ever really got rid of them in the first place.

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Number-one child, aged 24, is now happily ensconced in her own flat, although the pandemic did see her spending months at a time with us. Number-two is in his final year at uni, which will undoubtedly result in him arriving back home sometime in June next year complete with all his goods and chattels in bin bags.

The youngest is suffering a blip in his academic career – hopefully temporarily – and is back home, raiding the fridge and hogging the TV remote. Our cunning plan to relaunch him is to live such a boring life that free food and no financial responsibilities becomes less attractive than the alternative.

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But, even if we succeed, we know that having space will probably see them all returning for periods over the next few years.

It is a recurring theme with older homeowners – circumstances such as job loss, saving for a deposit on a first home, or even the ending of a relationship mean many adult children boomerang back, sometimes for decades.

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For those that despair of ever living a child-free life, my advice is to take note of how mother bears manage the problem. When they are tired of maternal duties, they simply issue a distress call to prompt their cubs to climb a tree, and then mum legs it.

The human equivalent is selling the house when your kids first move out – forwarding address optional.

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- Kirsty McLuckie is property editor at The Scotsman