Boomerang kids return to the nest – 3 million aged 20+ now living back with parents

July 13, 2011
4 min read

With the university year ending and thousands of students eagerly anticipating graduation, parents would be forgiven for thinking the end is nigh for the bank of mum and dad. But it seems that the nation’s parents should not be clearing out rooms or planning their getaways quite just yet, as new research from Mintel finds more than a quarter of students (27%) will be relying on their parents to provide a roof over their heads after they graduate, 3 million adults are now living back with their parents – and just over a third (34% or 1.6 million) of Boomerang children overall return home when they are in need of a bit of ‘Tender Loving Care’.

In new research looking at marketing to the ‘boomerang generation’ – kids who have returned home to live with parents after having lived elsewhere – Mintel finds that economic reasons have the greatest influence over their living arrangements. Indeed, some 41% say they return home to save money, over a third (34%) do so because they are in-between jobs or university, three in ten (31%) return because they can’t pay the mortgage and 23% go back home after a relationship break up. However, for some, their move is not just circumstantial with as many as 13% of these boomerangs moving back because of the lure of ‘home comforts’ and 9% because “it’s nicer than living in rented accommodation”.

While the majority (68%) of those moving back in with their parents are aged between 20-23 years old, it is not just the domain of younger people. Indeed, as many as one in five (19%) are aged 24-27 years old, 7% 28-31 years old and 2% 32-35 years old. Furthermore, some 4% – equating to 196 thousand individuals – are aged 36 years or older when they move back.

Ina Mitskavets, Consumer and Lifestyles Analyst at Mintel, said:

“While millions of boomerang children return home because of financial reasons – our research reveals this is not a clear cut case, many return simply to experience TLC, home comforts or simply because they have had enough of rented accommodation – and stick around because of this. As more and more young people return to the nest, the stigma attached to doing so dissipates – it’s no longer a last resort, but an accepted part of life for many.”

“Poor job prospects and the rising cost of living means that living independently is increasingly out of reach for the UK’s young adults. Living back at home with mum and dad offers today’s Boomerangs an opportunity to live more comfortably than they might otherwise have done whilst also saving money and clearing some debts, with over half (56%) of the comeback kids saying they are financially better-off as a result.”

While the boomerangs are lavishing in the comfort of the family home, the cost of having their children back at home is more likely to see the parents of the Boomerangs out of pocket, as almost half (45%) claim to save less money whilst their children are living with them. Indeed, it appears that many children may well be happier to let their parents carry the financial burden of having them back at home, with 69% of Boomerangs saving more money compared to 45% of Boomerang parents who save less. And what is more, nearly a fifth (18%) of parents say that it’s harder or more stressful when their children return while only 6% say it’s easier to have the boomerang children back at home. However, while parents may be financially worse off, it appears ‘helicopter parents’ are still looming large – nearly six out of ten parents (59%) feel it’s nice to be able to help their children out.

However, it appears that not all parents of these ‘boomerangs’ are happy about the prospect of having their kids back Although a larger proportion (43%) of parents take a positive view of their children’s return, nearly six in ten (57%) have mixed or negative feelings about the situation. And if parents are looking forward to a new mature relationship with their children as housemates, they may well be disappointed. Indeed, although very few parents (25%) say they revert back to the old child/parent roles, there is evidence that they do, as more parents are likely to cook more (55%) and 40% buy more treats for their children.

Finally, while moving back home might have its benefits, some 7% of those doing so say they try to keep it quiet from their colleagues and friends while almost one in five (18%) admit it is an embarrassing situation to be in. Nevertheless, despite the financial burden and stress the boomerangs bring, just 8% of parents would prefer it if they weren’t living with them.

Coverage for this story today includes the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror.

Sian Brenchley
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