High house prices – a lifetime of living with Mum?
By Anna Trevelyan
According to a recent online poll, 74% of people under 35 taking part in the survey think it is much harder for them to get onto the property ladder than it was for their parents’ generation. This compares to just 44% of people in the ‘baby boomer’ age bracket surveyed, with 40% of under 35s saying they will probably never be able to afford their own home.
According to land registry surveys, house prices in the UK have gone up by an average of 140% since August 1999. Rental prices have also risen year upon year, according to online polls by the charity Shelter, meaning many young people will not only be able to own their own home in the foreseeable future but cannot afford to rent either.
This has led to an increase in young people being forced to live at home with their parents. In fact, a survey by the Office for National Statistics revealed that the number of young adults living with their parents has increased by a quarter since 1996. The huge rise has been attributed to high house prices and growing youth unemployment in the UK. It’s a worrying trend that can’t help but undermine the self-confidence and independence of young people in modern Britain.
I feel that being forced to live at home once you are an adult can be damaging for all those involved. They may appear to be living the life of riley, with little to no rent and a home cooked meal being placed in front of them every night. But with a lack of your own space, unwanted invasion into the sometimes best-left-alone private lives of your parents, and an unavoidable regression into childhood annoyances it can’t be good for your confidence. Equally, parents can’t be overjoyed at unwittingly becoming unpaid staff in the worst hotel in the world, and having to financially prop up their offspring well past their 18th birthdays.
There is a discussion that we have in our house from time to time: when did your Dad say 'right, you have to move out'? My parents were very clear that once I hit 21 I was out. That was it. I never questioned it, as I always knew that on the day I turned 21-and-one-day my outlandish purple bedroom would be re-painted in a more tasteful magnolia and re-branded as a guest room. My other half had a slightly more strident 18-year-old deadline to deal with, before his Pamela Anderson posters were torn down in favour of nicely neutral landscape print. With hindsight, this was a luxury of choice that many now can now not afford.
When I mention this to some friends they suggest this was a slightly harsh approach, but I disagree. At least we all knew where we stood. It meant we both got part-time jobs whist we were at school and college, in such hideously awful places that meant we actively worked harder at school to ensure we wouldn't ever have to go back and work there. It gave us a deadline, and there was no negotiation to be had, so we made our life plans accordingly. We were certainly more fortunate than younger generations, as we had a much better chance of finding a job to fund the move out of home – 25% more of a chance, according to unemployment surveys.
As house prices rise and youth unemployment grows, most parents of teenagers cannot be as vociferous as our parents. Due to the economic downturn, rising prices and lenders demanding deposits of up to 25%, there will be very little choice for many under 25s in the UK.
Having your own home is a rite of passage. It gives you independence, responsibility and a glorious feeling of pride that you have worked hard to create your own haven. Unless employment rates pick up rapidly, and the government increase funding for home buying and renting schemes, a lifetime of living with Mum and Dad may be the only option for Generation Y.
What do you think? Do you own your own home, or are you living with family? Join the discussion on our Facebook page and don’t forget to share your views in Opinion Outpost’s online paid surveys!