Thursday, 27 June 2024

Experiences of young adults currently living with their parents.

“At the end of the day it’s a huge issue deeply affecting a whole generation of people”this is how a participant on our Home Truths Panel summed up her feelings on the impact of Ireland’s housing crisis on young adults.

As we delved a little deeper into a growing phenomenon of twenty-somethings living with their parents, it became clear that it must be having a significant impact on their outlook for their future.

Our last Home Truths paper, Single Adults Living with their Parents, highlighted how one third of 25–29-year-olds now live with their parents, and how one in ten adults new to emergency accommodation here in the Southwest are homeless due to the breakdown of a relationship with a parent. We asked people staying at our emergency shelter to share some of their experiences of living with a parent until pressures became too great, resulting in homelessness. These kinda things, they soul destroy ya, they really do” is how one man summed it up in that report.

To get a sense of how the growing phenomenon of young adults having to live at home is affecting their outlook, we formed a Home Truths Panel to explore some of their experiences and concerns. We captured their discussions in our latest Home Truths paper, the title of which came from one of their quotes: Affecting a whole generation”.

The discussion highlighted, yet again, how far out of reach the private rental market in Ireland has become - and how participants on this panel have given up on it.

As well as sky-high rents, scarcity of supply and fierce competition for any advertised properties, our Home Truths Panel also commented on unfair rental conditions and restrictions. One person, for example, just couldn’t bring himself to pay over €1,000 per month for a room he had to vacate at weekends:
“The rent was astronomical for what I would be paying to live in and there were many places where I wasn’t even allowed stay in the apartment or room from Friday to Saturday. I was only allowed stay there Monday morning into Friday evenings and I’m still being asked to pay €1,1,00 per month which I didn’t think was fair at all.”

Even if it were possible to secure a fair rental agreement, participants highlighted how rents are just too high to be able to live. As one participant said:
"The amount of emails I have sent and I had two viewings and like it was €750 for a double bedroom excluding bills. I mean, excluding bills, that’s nearly my whole wages. So that just wouldn’t be feasible for me.”

Another pointed out that such high rent means little or no ability to save for the future, impacting security:
“It’s just not worth it – half my pay cheque going to paying rent and there’s not much money going into my savings so there’s no plan for the future there.”

The young adults on our Home Truths Panel (in their mid-to-late twenties) have no choice but to stay at home
with their parents, which comes with pressures and challenges.

Participants speak to important areas of their lives being compromised, such as autonomy - in feeling they can’t have friends over; sanctuary - in not having a peaceful space to themselves; and connection – in feeling they’re at different life stage and dislocated from those they live with.

One participant put it succinctly when she said:
"It’s hard because you’re trying to carve out a life for yourself while still being stuck at home”.

She also noted that for some people, not having a home of their own is causing significant life plans to be put on hold:
“There are people who are wanting to start families and they’re stuck living with their parents. Which is a massive, massive, impact on people’s lives.”

Difficulties also arise from the number of people in the household and the pressure it adds in terms of increased bills, limited workspaces when several adults are working from home, as well as a general lack of personal space:
“… very lucky to have a good relationship with my parents and my family, but don’t get me wrong, seven people in the house can be a lot sometimes… not having enough space, only having your bedroom to go to would be an issue.”

According to Census 2022, over three quarters of 25–29-year-olds living with parents are in employment. Even if not working from home, living with parents and working has resulted in challenging commutes for some participants. One shared his experience of landing a new job in Dublin. Unable to find fair, affordable rental accommodation near his new job he had to remain living at home, on the opposite side of the country to his work. He doesn’t just commute, he traverses the country:
“Currently I’m living at home but I’m also working in Dublin, so I commute up and down to the office about two / three times a week. On a regular week I spend €180 on travel to the office. That’s not including food or anything else I need to get during that week. It’s a lot of money to spend on travel but it’s the cheaper option than paying €1,100 for a room."

Such a scenario is expensive, and no doubt also drains time and energy.
He adds that others he works with are in the same situation.  

While each of the participants on our Home Truths Panel were clear about the challenges that living at home present, they were very appreciative that the option was open to them. They were acutely aware that the option wasn’t available to everyone. They’re also grateful for the good relations they enjoy with their parents and for their parents’ understanding of the housing crisis. This, they say, is vital to sustaining their living arrangement. One participant highlighted this and the contrasting experiences of the generations:
“We’re lucky enough that we have that opportunity to live at home because not everyone has that opportunity. Some people mightn’t even have family, mightn’t have relations to go to. There’s a lot of people out there mightn’t have the same dynamic or the parents mightn’t understand as much. Obviously different generations would have different experiences in terms of the housing. Opportunities are not there for us as they were for their generation.”

Our Home Truths Panel participants, of their own accord, summed up the options facing their generation in the current housing crisis:

  1. Live at home - there is a lack of freedom there entirely”
  2. Rent - and struggle with bills
  3. Buy - if you can
  4. Emigrateand that comes with a lot of difficulties as well with leaving your family behind and leaving your home country”.

They describe the situation, and the choices, as “extremely difficult”.

Much more affordable and secure housing for rent and for purchase must become available to all ages, including younger adults - an increasing proportion of whom are stuck living a compromised life at home with parents, when they’ve out grown it.

In our next Home Truths blog, we'll take a closer look at the final option, emigration – an increasingly common path, according to participants, among their generation.