Thursday, 28 March 2024.

The largest proportional increase in single adults living with parents has not been among the youngest adult age groups, as might be expected with increasing time spent in education; it has been among 25-29 year olds, the significant majority of whom, according to Census 2022, are in employment.

In a properly functioning housing market, these young adults should be able to afford to live independently. A CSO snapshot study called Life at Home shows the overwhelming majority want to - 94% of those surveyed and in full time employment would prefer to live independent from parents. The survey also found that for 84% of those in full-time employment, finances play a part in their reason for remaining at home.

Just one example of a financial barrier to independent living is the high rate of increase in rents, especially for new tenancies. According to the Residential Tenancies Board’s latest Rent Index report (Q3, 2023), rents for new tenancies in Cork city increased 7.4% in twelve months, growing more than twice as fast as existing rents and bringing the average rent for a new tenancy in Cork city to €1,497 per month. With starting rents like these, it’s hard to see how anyone can afford to ‘make the move’. A house share is more economical, but according to’s latest Rental Report (Q4, 2023), the average rent in Cork city for a double room – that is, a standard room - is €719, and for a single room – often a ‘box room’ – it’s €633. And renters will most likely face annual rent increases, assuming of course that a tenancy can even be found - an enormous challenge when rental supply remains at an all-time low.

The financial barrier to independent living is also reflected in social housing waiting lists. Almost one quarter of applicants approved for and awaiting social housing in Cork are living with parents while they wait – double the proportion it was less than a decade ago.

The increase in adults living with their parents points to dysfunction in our housing system impacting the ability of younger adults to set up independent homes, extending their time living in the family home and effectively putting their lives on hold. 

Shannon Kelly-Fitzgerald lives with her parents and teenage siblings and is saving in an effort to afford independent accommodation. Featured in RTE Primetime’s Dating to Dishes: The reality of life 'stuck' living with parents, she described her experience of ‘life on hold’: "I love my family, but it's just different because I don't want to feel like my teenage brother and sister still living in my childhood bedroom. I'm ten years older than them. I want them to be able to come to my house and have sleepovers. It's hard to keep saving when you don't know the deadline. You're just kind of doing it indefinitely, hoping that something will come up, and you might have enough money when something comes up."

In our next post we look at the increasing reliance among younger adults, fortunate enough to find independent accommodation, on a precarious private rental market and the risks associated with it.