The Boomerang Kids

For many readers, Gen Y are a constant talking point and sometimes a source of confusion, whether as their own children or as transient colleagues in the workplace. What is so interesting is just how different this cohort’s attitude is to the previous generation.

Gen Y are more likely to stay in the parental home longer, and if/when they do move out of home most will make a return. Maybe even a few times.

Nearly 1 in 4 (23 per cent) of people aged 20 – 34 continue to live in the parental home. In Sydney and Melbourne, this figure is closer to 30 per cent. Males are also ‘mummy’s boys’, with 27 per cent of Gen Y living at home compared to 18 per cent for females. When the Boomers (baby boomers) were young, the main reason they moved out was to get married. Today, the main reason is to be independent, followed by a relationship, with study and employment rounding out the top four reasons. The reasons for staying at home are either financial or convenience, or EVEN the enjoyment associated with living with parents.

What a demographic shift that is!

The underlying cause of this shift is that Gen Y have made living with their parents ‘work’ – less than 1 per cent cite family conflict as a reason for moving out of home. Demographer Mark McCrindle thinks it’s not just the children’s fault, as parents today are ‘welcoming their adult children back. The Boomers are too young to be empty nesters and despite their complaints most appreciate having the young ones around.’

McCrindle identifies these returning Gen Ys as ‘the boomerang kids’. Of Australians aged 25 – 29 who live in their parental home, more than half of these (54 per cent) have moved out and returned again. Most (52 per cent) last less than two years before moving back, with 20 per cent lasting less than one year. Sixteen per cent last more than four years before returning home. Two thirds of these boomerang kids return to the nest because of financial problems. In Australia there are 117,547 people (8 per cent) aged 30 – 34 still living at home with their parents. Most have lived out of home and returned, many with their own young children.

What is important is that when boomerangs DO return things often aren’t the same, which is why this dynamic can work. McCrindle states that parents need to recognise that the returning children are no longer dependent teenagers but independent adults possibly with children of their own. Similarly the boomerangs have to avoid the trap of being dependent again, by contributing to ‘cleaning, costs, and sharing around the TV remote’.

As a property investor trying to picture what the world will look like when it comes to sell and deciding what to invest in, does this present the paradox that we will need fewer houses in the future?

Ultimately, no.

This shift as we see it is not a permanent removal of the need for housing, but merely a delay in taking on the responsibilities. The downager phenomenon of last week is occurring through all generations, not just the aged, and it places more pressure on well located properties close to employment hubs, transport and amenities that will suit more buyers in the future than you may think now.


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