Guest post: 'I'm married with two children - and I live with my parents'
Welcome to the boomerang generation: unable to afford a home of their own, a growing number of adults are being forced to move back in with their parents. Here, MN blogger Kiran Chug ponders the positives and negatives of flying back to the nest after having a family of her own.
Posted on: Thu 17-Jul-14 11:48:56
(23 comments )
When I left home at 19, I never imagined I would be living with my parents again over a decade later. I never considered, either, that I’d be moving back into their home with my husband and two children in tow.
I now know that life doesn’t always go to plan – if it did, I certainly wouldn’t be a card-carrying member of the boomerang generation. Over the last fifteen years I’ve lived in Edinburgh, South-East Asia and New Zealand, and - somehow - I’ve ended up back in London, in the house I grew up in.
Life wasn’t meant to turn out like this. My husband and I bought what we thought was our 'forever home' in New Zealand just before we were married. It was everything we’d always dreamed of – a hundred years old, sprawling and full of character – and we immediately set about making it our own. When our first child was born, we took photos of me walking him through the front door; he had made our house a home.
But then, last January, everything changed: with a one-year old and another baby on the way, the call of family in Britain became too strong. We said goodbye to friends and family in the country we’d lived in for almost a decade, I worked my last day at the newspaper, giving up the middle management job I loved, and we boarded a plane bound for Heathrow. We came home to start our lives again.
That was eighteen months ago, and now, with my daughter about to turn one and my son aged two and a half, we’re no closer to having a home of our own in England. Even with a good deposit from the sale of our house in New Zealand, buying somewhere for our little family to settle down in isn’t an option. We’ve been living on my husband’s income and my small freelance wages – and they don’t add up to enough to service the kind of mortgage we would need. So, instead of chipping away at our savings by paying rent, we have chosen to save our ‘nest-egg’ by staying with mum and dad.
We know owning a home isn’t for everyone, but my husband and I rented for a long time before buying our house in New Zealand, and we loved the freedom it gave us to make our mark on our home. And we’re fortunate to have a deposit, which we’ve worked hard for, and we’d hate to see disappear (but, ironically, with low interest rates, there isn’t really anything other than property that will see our savings grow).
Even with a good deposit from the sale of our house in New Zealand, buying somewhere for our little family to settle down in isn't an option. We've been living on my husband's income and my small freelance wages – and they don't add up to enough to service the kind of mortgage we would need. So, instead of chipping away at our savings by paying rent, we have chosen to save our ‘nest-egg' by staying with mum and dad.
So for the time being, we’re among a growing number of adults who have either moved back home to their parents’ houses, or never left in the first place. Earlier this year, the Office of National Statistics released data showing a large increase in the number of adults living with their parents; in 2013, it numbered 3.3 million UK adults aged 20-34 – that’s 26% of that age group. In line with academic arguments, the ONS blames the economic downturn for this new trend.
It’s certainly been a factor in limiting our options. We choose to live in London because it’s where my family are – our main reason for moving back across the world – as well as the fact my husband’s work is here; and it certainly helps my freelance work. But even in London, jobs are hard to come by. And in the past year, the average price of property in the capital has leapt by more than a quarter – now totalling £400,404.
My parents were delighted to see me return to London after fifteen years of living away, so they welcomed us with open arms. They dote on their only grandchildren, and I’m constantly amazed by their patience and capacity to give. I feel guilty, and sad for them – this isn’t how they should be spending their retirement. Of course, like any family, we have tense moments, and it’s no doubt harder for my husband as he is living with in-laws. But overall, the last eighteen months have been smooth and without disagreement. My parents feel they are in a fortunate position to be able to help us, and we feel unbelievably lucky and grateful for their kindness.
And yet, I wish we were making memories in our own home - scratching height charts under the stairs; painting the kid’s bedrooms in colours they’ll be indifferent to in a year’s time; throwing drunken dinner parties in our own kitchen, and eating food from the pantry I’d stocked myself.
In the same breath, I chide myself for being ungrateful, knowing we don’t deserve it – we haven’t managed to earn our home. Yet.
But when will it happen? Wages aren’t rising with inflation. House prices are still rocketing. The media are now reporting that surveyors believe house prices will fall in London in the next three months, but this still wouldn’t be enough of a game-changer for us. For one thing, when I return to full-time work, we’ll be hit by the added burden of childcare costs. I know my parents will help at least a little, because they want to – but that won’t change me feeling guilty that they can’t enjoy their retirement without the burden of constant house guests, and having to be child-minders.
One day, our little family of four will have our own place. (I hold onto this, when I crave privacy or to organise the kitchen cupboards in my own way.) But this shared living scenario has also taught me that having the people you love around you when you’re bringing up babies is immeasurably wonderful. We may have lost some of our pride and independence, but we have been bringing our children up in a village. My son and daughter don’t know anything different to a life which makes them happy, and the bonds forged between them and their grandparents won’t be broken - and I’ll never forget the support I’ve received whilst at home with a new-born and toddler.
Still, it’s a strange thing, to realise that you’re well into your 30s and can’t find a way to feel like a grown-up. I have a Masters degree and graduate diploma, I have worked non-stop since I was 16 - but somehow, I don’t have a home for me, my husband and my children. It wasn’t meant to be this way, and sadly, when I really look, I can’t see how things are going to change.
By Kiran Chug
We are having to temporarily move in with my dad in 2 months time.
We are going to be homeless when our private lease ends.
We can't afford a deposit for another private rent. We are going to apply for a council house and stay with dad until one comes up.
I would never have thought life would have turned out like this. I have 3 degrees and a successful career in my 20s.
I'm lucky in that I do still own a flat but it is too small for our family to live in. It might be a decade before I will be able to buy a family home and by that time the DCs will be older and we might be looking to downsize!
I just don't think the older generations realise how bad things are for young families in the 21st century.
I am a married mum of four.
We live with my mother and her husband through choice. There are eight of us living in a four bed house and we share all financial commitments equally.
My children benefit greatly from this set up and I see nothing wrong with it.
weatherall I don't think you will be eligible for council housing if you already own a property. It might be worth checking with your local council.
That's a myth.
I used to work in housing. I know the rules.
It may sound daft but everyone is entitled to go on the council waiting list.
DP, DS and DD and I all live with my parents. Funnily enough Kiran I think we went to the same primary school, you were the year below me I think <stalker>
We are living in the house I grew up in, it's not big enough and we do argue. But at present I can see no way out. Feeling like a child, bringing up my own children. Not great.
I'm 53, and we - DH, DS (18) and I - live with my 85 year old mother. We moved back in with her when I was 48 - 30 years after I first left home!
We share a totally ramshackle 6 bed house (my childhood home) with 2 kitchens and enough space for DH to run his own business; we pay all the household utility bills and organise all admin and maintenance work. DM has a good pension and is still active enough to live a happy and reasonably independent life
with us around to switch off fires, taps, cookers, find lost false teeth etc
One of my oldest friends is terminally ill and will come to live with us when he is discharged from hospital next week. DS's best friend from London (17, NEET, Aspie) is also coming to stay for an extended visit at the weekend. He might end up staying with us too, as he is estranged from his parents.
We tick along. There is very little paid work available in our area. I went to a local uni as a mature student and graduated last year, and DH is fortunate enough to be able to work anywhere with an internet connection, but struggles to find clients. I study part-time and do a lot of voluntary work. Our savings are rapidly diminishing but we still have a comfortable and relatively secure life.
I spent all my adult life prior to this move living in grotty shared rented flats in London, so no charges of entitlement please. Aged Mama is now in the early stages of dementia, but is still able to live in her home with our practical assistance and company.
My paternal grandmother lived with us until she died when I was 23, so multi-generational living feels normal to me.
Ds has Aspergers, but moving in with Gran has enabled him to spend the last 5 years in the sort of state school I would have spent £15,000 per year to send him to in the independent sector in London. Against all odds, he will be heading off to uni next year.
This isn't the way I imagined my life would be as a menopausal old bag. But I'm really glad we can live in a way which means we can help other people, not just family.
Excellent way to live lapsedpacifist.
I think we'd be fine if the house was bigger.
We intend to extend our house for more space. But at the moment we muddle along.
before our generation, my family always "did" multigenerational living. I loved living with my gps - it is of course a balance to make sure no one feels used as unpaid childcare, but it seemed to work with us. It helped in the teenage years, having someone else to bounce off apart from my parents.
Now I live in a different country to my parents. This is also not ideal! When we're back in the UK, I'd love to live very close to my parents, even if not in the same house.
But (and it's big one) - being effectively forced to live with your parents must make things much harder on all parties. Our home in the UK is in a part of the country where there hasn't been huge price rises, and I'm horrified by what I hear goes on in the South East just to get a roof over your head, even with pretty decent wages. I hope a way can be found to sort that out, without completely killing the property market in the rest of the country!
We made a conscious choice to move in with my retired parents. We have no mortgage, our own space and my daughter gets to spend quality time with lots of adults who love her. It means when my parents get a little older we will be in the same house to care, clean and cook. It means shared expenses, more free cash, and more freedom. I know it's not a "British" thing to do, but it makes financial, emotional and social sense.
The only thing I would advise is to get two living rooms, two bathrooms and two kitchens!
The problem is that if you want to live so London its a challenge. But the blogger could livesomewhere else in UK. Its not compulsory to live in London. Lots of people leave London so they can buy a house
Yes she could move but then why bother leaving New Zealand to be closer to family and then end up living 5 hours drive away?
It's awful that adults with decent salaries can't afford their own home.
The blog about leaving the forever home made me feel really sad
We (dh, ds1,9 and ds2, 1) live with my mum. (Or she lives with us. Whatever, we all live together)
It's becoming less unusual. Another of my friends has moved her DH and two kids in with her mum and dad.
We find it enormously helpful. Mum gets looked after by me, the kids get looked after by my mum. We all chip in and we do ok.
The only thing we wold like is to build a granny flat for mum so that she gets some of her own space.
Now it's my turn to stalk pseudo we share professions (and now home set up!)
Another one here, too! We (DH, DD -age 3- and I) are living with my parents for the time being. Priced out of London, DH unemployed and I was in a dreadful job with poor pay and long hours. We just weren't making ends meet. It's been a relief to have a breather but now, after almost 5 months, we're desperate for our own space again. It should happen soon! (And I think my poor parents will be delighted to get their privacy and peace and quiet back!)
Haverina, why would she need to live 5 hours away? 1-2 hours outside London and prices are very different. Even if she did live 5 hours away, surely 5 hours in a car is significantly different and much less expensive than24 hours in a plane, they are hardly comparable. If people insist on living in London, then they may not be able to afford their own home. That is the unfortunate reality today. A garage in Kensington last week was on the market for the same as a 28 bedroom mansion in Devon, both £500 000. If you choose to relocate to London don't moan you can't buy a house there, very naive! She could go on the waiting list for social housing in London if she wanted. In the meantime this couple have no housing costs, a great position to be for saving for somewhere they can afford, but probably not London!
OP, have you considered all moving back to New Zealand? Parents as well?
lovely example lapsedpacifist, combined generational living is common in the Caribbean, African and Asian communities, and it works typically well as the older generation are looked after and the younger generation are well supported.
I think that Brits might need to reconsider their attitude to houses and ownership. we seem to think that 'our' house should largely mean 'our nuclear family' house; whereby go to a typical Grenadan, Jamaican, Indian or Ghanaian family household and there will be a grandparent knocking about, and the house may probably be theirs.
My son and I live with my dad, moves in 2 yrs ago. We all have out own bedrooms and plenty of space. My ex lived here as well until fairly recently as the plan had been to save for a mortgage and we were nearly there but now we have split. I only work part time so will never get a mortgage on my own. For time being im very happy here and my son loves it. A few of my married and house owning friends are actually jealous of my situation which is bizarre!
I have to say though I really can't agree that being allowed to apply for a council house when u own another property is fair. I think that's a loop hole that should be closed off - social housing is very limited as it is, Others my disagree but that's my opinion.
I'm so glad I'm not alone in this situation.we had to sell our house due to my partner being off sick and us being unable to keep up with the mortgage, we made nothing on it so made the decision to move in with my partners parents. We have a 2 year old son, my partner has a good job and I work 50-60 hours a week. We can't see an end in sight for us and I would love to extendmy own family and have another child. It's so very difficult and there are days it feels like we will never win and its not worth all the effort. There are 8 of us in a 4 bed house and its cramped at times
Its comforting to know we are not alone.
We are in the same situation. Our 2 bed cottage was too small for our family (2 adults 2 children) and we couldn't afford to move up the property ladder. We could just about afford a 3 bed rental house but we'd have no money leftover and no way of saving for another mortgage. Currently the aim is to live with my mum for about a year or so and save as much as possible, but we'll have to see how things go. Like the OP says, there is bit of a nagging concern that it feels like nothing is going to change and that we'll end up here forever. However, the financial benefits, and the children's close relationship with their Nanna make it worth it. I think my mum benefits too because she has been very lonely since my dad died. It would be nice if we had a bit more space and an extra bathroom, but I'm just grateful that we had this option as it gives us the possibility of having our own home again in the future.
I've never understood grandparents who put themselves before their grandchildren or children. I would drop everything if it meant the difference between my children living comfortably and living in cramped conditions.
We lived with my gps for a year between moves and it was great all round but financially we didn't actually need to be there so moved out. Now Mum lives alone in a massive house worth over a million and hires in help but that's her choice. Not mine, but what can you do.
Some of her gcs are still at home with their parents at 28.
In the end it's a decision you make as an individual but it does reflect your priorities and everyone sees that.
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