Are young Europeans part of a “boomerang generation“? Throughout early adulthood, will they be forced to return several times to live with their parents? As the labour market grows more flexible, with young people today expected to change jobs – and even careers – multiple times, should the way we think of “growing up” also become more flexible?

In the United Kingdom, more than a quarter of young adults (aged 20-34) live with their parents – the highest number since 1996 when records began. The trend is echoed across Europe, and research suggests it can have a negative impact on the psychological wellbeing of both young adults and their parents.

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Martina, who argues that many young Europeans today can’t afford to rent property, and many live with their parents into their 30s. She sees this as a bad thing. Is she right? How old is too old to live with your parents?

To get a response, we spoke to Liz Emerson, Co-Founder of the Intergenerational Foundation, a UK-based independent charity promoting intergenerational fairness, working for the interests of younger and future generations. What would she say?

Martina is absolutely right. In the UK, in 1997, 2.4 million young people lived with their parents. By 2017, that had risen to 3.4 million young people. And the reason they’re having to live with their parents is because of high house prices. If you are a young person living in London, you are having to find 12 times your salary for housing, and the same is happening across Europe. But young people can change the situation, as has been shown in Berlin, with rent strikes since May 2019, I believe, and the Berlin protests have seen 10’000 to 40’000 people protesting against their rents doubling in Berlin over the last 10 years.

It’s particularly pertinent on mainland Europe because, of course, in countries like Germany 85% of the population rent. In the UK, we want to be homeowners, so young people here aspire to owning a home of their own, but 50% of them will never be able to do that and are now having to rent like their counterparts across Europe.

For another perspective, we also spoke to Dr. Claus Koch, a German psychologist, journalist, and author of many books, including about the challenges of growing up and leaving the home. What would he say?

This is the phenomenon of the so-called ‘boomerang generation’ that we often read about in the press. I’m somewhat cautious in my judgement of this because often they say things like ‘young adults are too lazy to move out’, ‘they want to continue enjoying the protection from their family’ and so on. That probably is true for some individuals but by no means all. If you look at the numbers, 75% of young adults still live at home when they are 20 but by the time they are 30, its only 10% – so it’s not the overwhelming majority who stay at home. The complex reasons for this should be taken into consideration.

There is the simple economic side that, in university towns, the cost of living and, above all, the rent prices have become so expensive that many young people decide to – purely for cost reasons – to continue to live with their parents.

It’s also about, and this is perhaps the most important reason, the fact that the generational conflict between parents and young people is simply no longer as strongly present as was the case 50 years ago. When I was young, after the end of high school, it wasn’t even a question, we were moving out because we simply couldn’t see eye-to-eye with our parents in the ’60s and ’70s. That is no longer the case today and this can also be scientifically proven. Studies on youth show that the vast majority of young people say that they want to raise their children the same way that they themselves have been raised…

How old is too old to live with your parents? Are young Europeans living at home for longer than previous generations? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Image Credits: CC – BY 2.0 / Flickr – bradleypjohnson; Portrait Credits: Koch © Stefan Gelberg

63 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Balcony Gardener

    1 day online and not one comment. Nobody cares about this topic.

  2. avatar

    Or, how young is too young to live with your children ?

  3. avatar

    Till late 30s. Its the European way of life

  4. avatar

    Sorry, how does sticking your nose into other people’s family arrangements square with the idea of “tolerance”, “diverse lifestyles”, and all that happy talk?
    Do you realize that for most of the world, for most of history, multi-generational households have been the norm?
    I dare you to go to a village in Papua New Guinea and tell people tey are too old to live with their parents.

    • avatar

      bang TO RIGHTS..MY Take EXACTLY

  5. avatar

    According to each personal project.

  6. avatar

    The sooner you leave the parents’ house, the better. During the first year of college, one needs to move out. So I’d say 19 – 21. Even if one doesn’t go to college, 19 – 21. I sure don’t want my kids to live in my house in their late 20s or 30s. They need to learn to be independent and face the realities of life at an early age. The younger the better.

    • avatar

      Cosmin I’m in my second year of college and I’m still with my parents, because I simply can’t afford to move out. It depends on people’s personal circumstances.

    • avatar

      That was just my personal take on it. :) The circumstances are different from one individual to another. :)

  7. avatar

    That is a personal choice , and not a matter for public debate, so just butt out

  8. avatar

    Until we as a society don’t fix this mess of unstable work

    • avatar

      Alex not only. How about expensive properties?

    • avatar

      Galina it’s all connected, it’s the failure of modern capitalism

    • avatar

      Alex absolutely !

    • avatar

      Alex some people will never have enough

  9. avatar

    Never. There are families who like to see grandchildren on the same table of the dinner, under the same roof

  10. avatar

    Most people live because in Europe the rent is higher then the salary so how can you rent or eve dream to buy your home?? Why EU doesn’t do nothing about it?

  11. avatar

    It all depends on the circumstances….. better to live with your parents than to be homeless on the streets as is more and more the case for many young people.

  12. avatar

    Mind your onwn ask this because you think that there is a normal age for leaving ?

  13. avatar

    very simple … leave when to can pay your own way in life …

  14. avatar
    Aerts Gabrielle

    Young people need a job to have an income to move out with their parents. And an affordable living space.

  15. avatar

    Every situation is different each to their own and exactly mind your own business

  16. avatar

    Going by the rents in Dublin. And the deposit you need to buy your own home. I am so glad I am in my mid 50es. Me and my husband rent a room to a Swedish art student. We did not set the fee. We used a company to find the right person for us. And it works for her and us. But I moved out my parents home at 24. And I never looked back.

  17. avatar

    ell I’m 37 and still living at home with my dad but this is due to me having a massive brain hemorrhage around 6 years ago!?! Now I’m unemployed but not addicted to nicotine anymore!?! But I do believe that marijuana should be legal absolutely everywhere on our beautiful planet!?!

  18. avatar

    Personally I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business who lives with their parents and for how long, if it’s not costing you money or inconvenience why should you bother about it .

  19. avatar

    When your parents yell you to get tf out.

  20. avatar

    What about minding your own business ? My grandparents lived with their parents until they could afford their own house. My mom was 8 by then.

  21. avatar

    now a days its never to old just depends in witch country you live

  22. avatar

    Well I’m definitely too old to live with parents… but I can afford it.
    I’m not ashamed because I can’t do anything about it.

  23. avatar

    Until the house prices and the rents become affordable once again.

  24. avatar

    It’s much harder to deal with your parents than to manage a single person household. The reasons most people live with their parents deep into their 20s are mostly economical.

  25. avatar

    If you have a housemate (basically a bf/gf) and you both have full-time jobs (even with low salaries), it’s possible. Not possible at all for a single person unless s/he has a salary of at least €1500.-, which in Cyprus is unusual for sb in their 20s. “Hotel Mum” will definitely be more comfortable though …. clothes washed and ironed, meals ready, floor cleaned etc etc etc. And usually no bills to pay.

  26. avatar

    I left in my 25 ( its very expensive if you are in a turistic capital) – but you only have jobs in the turistic capitals, you only have low paing jobs… so its like a “pescadinha de rabo na boca”

  27. avatar

    No jobs, no money so they cant live

  28. avatar

    In Belgium there seems to be no true upper limit to how much monthly rent a landlord can demand, or to how much they can increase said rent yearly.
    With a minimum wage job that turns into a bigger and bigger pain in the ass over time.

  29. avatar

    17 starts to be too much. 21 is the upper limit.

    • avatar

      that would be Utopia, I wish I could pay / rent a 4 wall celing house with that age.. and with the salaryies one has at those ages.

    • avatar

      @Miguel absolutely

    • avatar

      I did it 40 years ago and moved to Los Angeles at the age of 23 and my son moved to London at the age of 17 both with little help from parents. By little I literally mean little.

    • avatar

      your familly has balls of steal. respect.

    • avatar

      A mentality to do whatever it takes, helps.

    • avatar

      I guess most of us have fear and anxiety

    • avatar

      also I hate to ask parents for money… I want to earn it.

  30. avatar

    thats a difficult question to anwser..i left home at 22 ..and on reflection it was too young!!..but i survived !!..i suppose when they want to themselves..maybe when they get married..but sure if they are saving to buy a house or appartment ,then they move home to save !!..and sure they move back in again if something happens to the grand parents..sickness or other …anyway ..they will always be welcome day or night !! 😃..we love to hear all their news etc…. 😃

  31. avatar

    How many take care of their parents when old and keep them at home? Not enough for sure.

  32. avatar

    Well, it really depends on how much preparation was done in the early years. Independence was what I was taught to attain. Today, it seems there is less taught about it. More children are taught about entitlement and how they, the child, deserve the standard of living it took parents decades to obtain.

  33. avatar

    21, it was just the right time to “spread my wings”. It may be different when your a student living on the campus….. but if not 21 is the right age, not too young not too old. Yet economical…. not easy/difficult when alone/single.

  34. avatar

    If housing prices in cities with job opportunities were not crazy expensive AND salaries would be reasonable in view of living costs in those ciries this issue would not exist. You need more than €3000 net per month to be able to rend a flat in Paris.

    • avatar

      the same in Munich, Milan, Madrid every major city in Europe

  35. avatar

    If landlords decides to increase prices even more, We will Live with our parents forever.

  36. avatar

    It all depends in what country you live, and the willingness of a student to work while studying, instead of putting all the financial burden on the parents. In general however, millenials tend to take everything for granted, with “others owing them”.

    • avatar

      I am a milienial and I dont take anithing for granted.

    • avatar

      I had 7 jobs in my life time boomer

    • avatar

      i worked my ass off and was able to move from my parents at 26 and that only by sheer luck

    • avatar

      same story with me but at 25.

    • avatar

      I moved at 30 in my own apt., with very much luck, but I started paying my share after I started working. Had plenty jobs (15) with a few small personal or family enterprises in between.
      This needs determination and definitely a lot of stepping out of the comfort zone, especially if you’re not part of a well educated middle/high class family. Sharing with a partner, or moving with colleagues in a shared rent or in campus if possible is a BIG step forward. Also depends on the country and level of living there as to how fast you can afford anything else than being with your family.

    • avatar

      in general, every answer that states something in general, is particularly wrong

  37. avatar

    What millennials?in Greece people born in the 60′ s still live with their parents
    And the reasons are not economical

  38. avatar

    In Slovakia a basic admin job in the public sector gives 500eur per month. It’s not even enough to rent a place, let alone dream to ever buy one. I think there are studies showing that this new generation will be the first to be poorer than their parents. Compound that with Covid and looming climate change, it’s no fun to be young today.

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