The Housing Crisis – Today’s ‘Peter Pan’ Generation

Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

The housing sector is always a vast forum for debate, particularly at the moment, thanks to the ever increasing difficulty that today’s younger generation faces when trying to buy their own property. For parents, seeing their children fly the nest and spread their wings anytime soon is looking increasingly unlikely.

The ‘Peter Pan’ Generation

Most buyers struggle to save up enough to purchase a house, but today’s youths (the “Clipped Wing Generation”) are at an even greater disadvantage, with approximately two million 20-34 year olds still living with their parents.

A survey carried out by the housing charity Shelter, also discovered that out of 250 young adults living with their parents, almost 50% said they remained at their family home because they can’t afford to rent, let alone buy a house. Ballooning prices in the housing industry and low salaries for young people across the UK has formed an extremely bleak picture.

The rising number of young people steadily avoiding the property ladder due to lack of funds has even led to the younger buyers being dubbed the ‘Peter Pan’ generation. In a report for ITV News, a 32 year old employee, Sarah Mann, commented on how she is earning an above average wage, and yet still can’t find a property that is easily within her price range.

A steady job failing to guarantee enough money to move out seems to be a familiar trend, with the analysis from the last census showing that there were 1.97 million people in the 21-40 age group in England who were still living with their parents, which actually accounts for a quarter of all young adults in employment.

A rite of passage

Stats aside, children staying with their parents a lot longer is also having a huge effect on home-life. Where once it was a case of ‘empty nest syndrome’ and waving a sad goodbye as the kids headed off to start their new life, the soaring prices of rent, mortgages and deposits means parents are stuck with kids in their thirties still living at home.

This disruption to the traditional rite of passage, where parents get to see their children move out and set up a family of their own, means plenty of friction within families. Whilst no parent ever wants to leave their kids without a home – no matter their age, many do look forward to the benefits of a stress-free life and the freedom that comes when they move out. On the flip-side, with kids being trapped in their childhood bedrooms and feeling as though their quest for true adulthood has been delayed, it comes as no surprise to discover that the negative atmosphere is creating resentment and affecting relationships.

Although a recent survey of parents found that just over a quarter (26%) said having a grown-up child sharing their home brought their family closer together, nearly the same proportion, 23%, said the situation caused them stress and 18% said it had caused arguments.

Interestingly, along with charities, it seems parents could actually be a big driving force behind change when it comes to the housing industry and young adults. A survey of more than 1,100 parents of adult children by the National Housing Federation found that nearly nine out of 10 people (89%) believe there isn’t enough affordable housing in the UK. In addition, two-thirds of those parents (66%) said this was because their son or daughter could not afford to rent or buy their own place.

There is a belief that unless local communities, alongside parental groups, begin speaking out in favour of more homes, mums and dads across the country could be stuck providing a roof for their adult children for years to come.

What can parents do?

The biggest struggle for young adults is calculating the finances needed to live in a place of their own and parents are ideally placed to offer the benefits of their experience – so simply sitting down and chatting to your kids about what they need to think about is a great start. Otherwise, it’s just a case of helping them get together a plan towards moving out, as having a time-frame can be productive for the whole family and even prevent arguments about them not being ‘proactive’.

Lots of young adults are staying at home in order to save up for a deposit, although it can be tricky to work out exactly how much they need to save, and how long they need to save for. Before they get too disillusioned, you can do a little research for them and keep an eye out for some really useful online options.

Totally Money has created a great affordability tool which takes into account the area you wish to buy in and how much you can afford to save each month. It then calculates how long it would take you to save up a deposit for a house. For example, if you wanted to live in Cumbria and could afford to save as much as £300 per month, you could have enough for a housing deposit in just under five years.

By using an affordability tool, your kids will be able to give themselves a basis of how much they need to save, though this could obviously fluctuate over the period if they save more money during that time. You can also get them to look into their out-goings and see if they can reduce these in anyway.

For the foreseeable future, unless there is a drastic reduction in the price of renting or an even more unlikely increase in average salaries, it seems young people will continue moving back home with their parents to cut down on the high costs of living.