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'My 26-year-old son had to move back home to get by – now I give him pocket money'

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·4 min read
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Catherine Crane at home at Machen, near Caerphilly, Wales - Jay Williams for The Telegragh
Catherine Crane at home at Machen, near Caerphilly, Wales - Jay Williams for The Telegragh

The growing trend of adult children returning home will explode this year as the cost-of- living crisis forces more young people to rely on their parents.

More than 400,000 households have already had to accommodate returning grown-up children as a result of the pandemic, according to Legal & General, an insurer. However, experts warned thousands more will move home as finances are ravaged by inflation. The additional burden of funding previously self-sufficient young adults could derail retirement plans for elderly parents.

Such millennials have been dubbed the “boomerang generation”. Emma Byron, of Legal & General, said: “During the pandemic a lot moved home because of loneliness, but this year it will be out of financial necessity.”

Jonathan Cribb, of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, a think tank, warned that sky-high house prices, more expensive mortgages, ever-increasing rents and rising day-to-day costs and bills would drive more and more young adults back to the safety of their parents.

“We expect people to move home particularly because the main shock has come from gas and electricity prices, which are easy to reduce by living with other people,” he said.

He warned this would be a huge cultural shift for many parents. “We are not Italy, where vast numbers of people live with their parents and it is part of the culture. But more people in Britain will be forced to live with their parents than in past generations.”

More than 3.6 million 20 to 34-year-olds were living with their parents in 2021, according to the Office for National Statistics. Research has shown that young men are far more likely to return to the family home. A third of all 20 to 34-year-old men live with their parents, compared with just one in five women. Half of 24-year-old men live at home, while just 35pc of women that age do.

Catherine Crane, 53, from Cardiff, said her 26-year-old son and his wife have been living with her and her husband for 18 months.

Mrs Crane said the couple moved home in October 2020 during the pandemic, cutting short their travels in New Zealand, where they each had found temporary jobs. The pair have been living rent-free at home and do not pay towards bills or food. Mrs Crane said she gives them spending money and cash for fuel.

“They aren’t really saving much money and I don’t take anything from them because I would rather they save whatever they can so they can push on in life. They are not where they thought they would be at their age,” she said.

Her son has done odd jobs, while his wife is a personal trainer, a profession that so far has not afforded a secure income, Mrs Crane added.

“It takes an adjustment because when you reach your 50s and 60s you expect to have more disposable income and be able to save as much as possible for retirement. Food and fuel cost the most – I’m spending a lot more money on that. It is quite scary how much prices are rising, even things like pasta.”

The weekly shop now comes to between £250 and £300, Mrs Crane said. The family home was refurbished to separate living spaces for the young couple, with an extra shower added. This was at the parents’ expense, she said.

The newly-weds had planned to get their own home, but can no longer afford to as bills soared and inflation picked up. This week, the ONS revealed the consumer price index hit 7pc in March, the highest since 1992. “They have had to put their plans on hold, again. We have laughed about where we put the grandkids,” she said.

Catherine Crane at home at Machen, near Caerphilly, Wales - JAY WILLIAMS for the telegraph
Catherine Crane at home at Machen, near Caerphilly, Wales - JAY WILLIAMS for the telegraph

Rebecca O’Connor of Interactive Investor, a fund shop, warned parents would have to use money to support adult children that would otherwise have been for retirement.

This has increased the risk of parents running out of savings and living in poverty in later life. “Very early on into stopping work, or even pre-retirement, is the worst time to take large chunks out of your pension. Inflation is high, the stock market is volatile and interest rates are rising,” Ms O’Connor said.

“Adult children moving home puts a large strain on parents but they probably don’t realise because of an assumption that your parents are always OK financially.”

Andrew Tully, of Canada Life, a pension provider, said as well as “boomerang” children, the ability of adults to leave their parents in the first instance has also been severely hampered.

He said: “Rocketing living costs alongside the ever-increasing cost of housing, whether that’s for purchase or renting, mean even more young people will have no choice but to remain in the family home.”

Have your children had to come back home to survive financially? We want to hear your story. Email jessica.beard@telegraph.co.uk