Home again: Why 'boomerang' households are the new normal

·5-min read
The Boomerang generation trend looks set to continue. (Getty Images)
The Boomerang generation trend looks set to continue. (Getty Images)

Young people are returning to live at their parents' home as many as four times, new research has revealed.

The YouGov study, of 2,000 young adults by children's charity Barnardo's, found that the boomerang generation, so-named to describe young adults who move out of the family home for a time and then boomerang right back, is very much still a thing. 

The research revealed that just over four in 10 (42%) of 25-34-year-olds who have ever moved out of their family home moved back into their parents’ homes at least once after they’d moved out to live independently.

Of those, 7% had moved back twice, 1% three times, 1% four times and a further 1% more than four times.

Nearly one in five – 18% – of young people aged 25 or over are still living at home, including 1% who remain in the family home at the age of 40 or above.

The boomerang generation trend is not necessarily a new phenomenon, having been identified through the 1990s and 2000s with children and young adults forced to move home after struggling with high rents and property prices. 

Read more: Look at all the lonely people: Why do over 80% of retirees feel isolated?

New research has revealed young people are coming back to live with their parents up to four times. (Getty Images)
New research has revealed young people are coming back to live with their parents up to four times. (Getty Images)

And while the set-up might not be for everyone, it could become the model for more families in the future. 

Insurance company Aviva predicts the number of households containing two or more families will rise from 1.5 million to 2.2 million by 2025.

The study also anticipates 3.8 million people aged between 21 and 34 will be living with their parents - a third more than at present.

"The rise in multi-generational households has been on the increase for a few years and it is a trend that is going to become the norm," explains relationship expert, Tina Wilson, founder of Wingman.   

"A combination of factors including rising house prices, location, rise in student debt and falling wages has led to a peak in young adults living with their families."

Watch: Home renovations to consider before your parents move in. 

But COVID-19 and the restrictions it has fuelled has also played a role in the rise of multi-generational homes. 

"The pandemic has also seen us assess our lives, and creating our 'support bubbles’ has been one of the most important factors for everyone to address over the past year," Wilson continues.

"Many families have moved in together and people have come to appreciate the fundamental things in life, their relationships. Young people have moved back home to unite different generations."

Wilson says the events of the previous year have actually helped to break down taboos associated with still living at home in your thirties and forties. 

"There has become far less stigma attached to saying, 'I still live with my parents' whereas a few years ago friends and colleagues would wonder why," she explains. 

But despite a more positive association, living with your parents, or and even, in some cases, your grandparents doesn't come without challenges. 

Read more: How to get your home guest-ready - fast

How to live harmoniously in a multi-generational household. (Getty Images)
How to live harmoniously in a multi-generational household. (Getty Images)

How to live harmoniously in a multi-generational household

Wilson says respecting each others boundaries is the key to maintaining a healthy relationship with your family all under one roof.

"Communication is essential on all sides, as is consideration for each other," she says. "Multi-generational living can have its challenges, however, there are a number of ways you can all live in harmony. 

"Cleanliness is an obvious factor, particularly with the kitchen and bathroom, so ensuring a rota or some form of structure around cleaning will help minimise any disputes. "

Family time, Wilson says, is also still very important even if you are crossing paths everyday. 

"Make time to all have dinner together, watch a film, play a game or listen to music together," she suggests. 

"Also think about social spaces and private spaces. It is just as important to have 'me time' as well as time connecting with the whole family." 

Read more: Who gets custody of the dog? Couples urged to sign a pet-nup

Another potential pitfall is the tendency to resort to childhood habits when returning to the family home. 

"The parent and child boundary may be a challenge as the child will now be an adult - breaking out of that relationship cycle is important to address," explains Wilson. 

"Both parent and child should be conscious that the adult child has now grown up and both sides need to understand the new relationship dynamic. 

"If you are the adult child try not to let your parents do everything for you (i.e washing, cooking and cleaning) and maintain your independence," she continues.

"The adult child should not take advantage of the situation either. The parent should also respect that their child is now an adult and needs to stand on their own two feet."  

Wilson says both generations will have a stronger and closer relationship if they are more considerate and conscious of each other as individuals and people. 

"Respect is earned both ways," she adds.

Watch: Should I move in with my parents to save money?