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Empty nests a thing of the past

Emma Lunn
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Emma Lunn

Getting the kids to move out of the family home is harder than ever before, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS found one in four (25 per cent) of 20 to 34-year-olds, about 3.4 million people, still lived with their parents in 2018, up from a fifth (21 per cent) in 1996.

Men were most likely to stay at home with almost a third (31 per cent) living with their parents, compared to 20 per cent of women in the same age group.

Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Your ‘empty nest’ may be decidedly more crowded than you’d expected, because young people are proving tough to dislodge from the family home.

“They’re likely to stay in education or training for longer, and the cost of study away from home is encouraging more of them to stay put. Those who do uproot themselves for their studies are more likely to boomerang back home afterwards – saddled with debts and unable to stretch to the soaring cost of getting a place of their own.”

Andrew Montlake, of mortgage broker Coreco, said the figures are a damning indictment of the property market today.

“Rents have soared, especially in major cities, while the first rung of the property ladder is out of reach given the sizeable deposits now required,” he said, “In the capital, only young people with high paid jobs and easy access to the Bank of Mum and Dad have got a chance of owning a home. And that’s after the price falls of recent years.”

Cohabiting couples, same-sex couples and solo dwellers all on the increase

The number of cohabiting couple families has continued to grow faster than married couple and lone parent families, with an increase of 25.8 per cent between 2008 and 2018.

The number of same-sex couple families has grown by more than 50 per cent since 2015, with more than four times as many same-sex married couple families in 2018 compared with 2015.

There are also a record number of people living alone. About 8 million people now live on their own – about 15 per cent of households – up from 7.7 million in the previous year. These figures are driven by increases in women aged 45 to 64-years-old and men aged 65 to 74-years old.

“Men are more likely to live alone in mid-life because more men than women choose not to marry. When they do get married, they do so at older ages, and when couples break up, men tend to live alone,” said Coles, “Women are more likely to be alone in retirement, because their husbands are typically older and women tend to live longer, so more women are widowed.”