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Why DO so many graduates live with their parents?

22nd January 2014

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It might seem like going to university meant that you were finally leaving home for good – but with increasing numbers of graduates moving back in with their parents, it seems like the dream of post-graduation independence is exactly this for a lot of us.

Over a quarter of 20 to 34 year olds are still at home, according to the Office for National Statistics, meaning 3.3million adults of this age were living with their parents in 2013. It’s an increase of 669,000 since the beginning of the recession in 2008.

More men live at home than women (32% vs. 19%), and women are more likely to leave home for university than men.

Perhaps surprisingly, 72% of those living with their parents are working – it’s not necessarily the struggle to find a job, then, that’s stopping us moving away.

So, post-recession, why are we finding it so difficult to fly the nest? Is it because we can’t afford to take the leap, or because our job prospects aren’t secure enough, or just because we really, really like having our washing done and our meals cooked?

We asked some of those in their twenties why they’re still in the comforting bubble of home... 

I can’t afford to move out 

University of Lincoln graduate David Wriglesworth says: “(I) graduated in September and I've been living at home ever since because I can't afford to move out.

“A few of my friends are in the same position. I'm able to get by, but that's partly because I'm relying on my parents to buy the shopping.”

He adds that he has had temporary jobs, including as a filing clerk and in Next over Christmas, but nothing permanent - and that current freelance writing jobs don’t pay enough to live independently.

Blogger, YouTuber (and council worker) Penny, 28, also cites money trouble as a factor that forced her back home: “after a split with an ex I ended up in so much debt I couldn't buy food/pay my bills,” she says.

I’m working – but I need to save before I can pay rent

Wynona Wyatt, who works in media sales, says moving home after immediately finishing university in London was a means to an end: “It’s because I needed to save for a deposit and rent before moving out,” she says, “which isn’t that easy when you work and travel to and from work.”

I’m unprepared and can’t find a stable job

David adds that, through applying for jobs without success, he has realised that “university was a great experience but I did feel unprepared. I could have done with some assistance in writing CVs/cover letters.”

He adds: “Career guidance was available but I didn't think it was necessary at the time. Looking back on it now, it would have been very useful.”

I want to buy a house

Robert Etheridge, who graduated in 2012 and works in communications, briefly moved out but returned home a few months later. He says that there are a number of reasons why he took the decision to stop renting: “My parents live in commuting distance of London, and eventually I'd like to buy,” he says.

“Essentially I'm at home because my entry level salary was not enough for me to live the fun London life that I thought I would have.

“Rent and bills swallowed all my money.”

For the convenience

Of course, there are often a number of different reasons to stay at home, rather than one that stands out.

Jade Darcy, who graduated in 2011 and now works in recruitment, says: “I've managed to save quite a lot of money as rent is a lot cheaper, it’s easy for me to get to work... and my ironing still gets done!”

It does seem, as is probably expected, that lack of confidence over money and the need to save is the main reason behind the increasing numbers of young people and graduates choosing to stay at home for longer – especially those in or around London and other big cities, whose relatively modest wages just aren’t sustainable with expensive urban living.

So, where is the country are young adults most likely to be living at home?

Northern Ireland has the most homebodies by a long way – 36% of those aged 20-34 are still living with their parents, way ahead of second on the list West Midlands (29%) and the North West (27%).

At the other end of the scale, only 22% of those aged 20-34 live with their parents in London – it’s the same amount, though, in Yorkshire and The Humber.

Will the numbers of graduates leaving home and forging independent lives increase as the economy recovers? Only time will tell...

Are you a graduate who lives at home? Tell us about your experiences below.

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