In both the United Kingdom and the United States, 18-34 year-olds are predominantly living with their parents over any other living arrangements. This has been one of the many knock-on effects of the economic turmoils facing so-called generation Y. But where does this leave 18-34 year olds on a long-term basis, and how will this change things for future generations?
Millennials are spending nearly 25% of their average outgoings per month on rent, and the recent memory of around £40,000 in tuition loans and fees—to say nothing of the future graduates who are set to face greater levels of debt following last week’s maintenance grant cuts—still hangs over their heads. It’s no wonder that such a high cost of living has driven them back to the nest.
This trend is certain to have major implications for future generations, as well as for the future of millennials themselves. For the latter, we’ve already witnessed a burgeoning sense of wanderlust developing: they’re spending more time seeing the world in the face of a crumbling job market. Living at home on returning from university or travelling is arguably the most convenient way for millennials to establish a base for themselves, whether for a few weeks, or a few months.
Millennials and boomerang living
While there are a wide variety of student-centric guides to moving out of your parents’ home, barely any deal with how to adjust with the psychological, practical and lifestyle challenges of coming back. A recent Guardian story described the personal experiences of a number of worldwide millennials who fall into what is called “the boomerang generation”, cataloguing the anxieties and insecurities of their living situations, as well as the positives.
This term is generally used to describe millennials returning to live at home full time, but it also applies to other issues regarding generation Y. For example, the average twenty-something’s desire for freedom and flexibility in life has resulted in a boomerang effect in the workplace as well, meaning that many workplaces may have to adapt to a more favourable perspective on re-hiring ex-employees.
All-inclusive shared spaces: the future of independent living?
As the number of millennials who are able to afford home-ownership continues its steady decline, those who can rent are starting to seek something beyond unreliable landlords and “flatmate wanted” adverts.
According to London rental operators Tipi, millennials are “reshaping the housing sector”, noting that they want the same flexibility out of their privately rented accommodation as they would any other living arrangement.
Tipi’s apartments aren’t dissimilar to the growing trend of “co-living spaces” in London such as The Collective, which have been described as a potential solution to the housing crisis. As the largest co-living development in the world, The Collective has been singled out for criticism from some corners—most of its 550 studio bedrooms are just 10 square metres in size and come with a small kitchen to share with one other neighbour.
Another co-living arrangement for cheap living can be obtained through property guardianship. This is a system where property guardians are contracted to live on-site at vacant premises for the purpose of security for a limited period of time, and it too has led some to wonder whether it could be an answer to the UK’s housing woes. If you allow yourself to get carried away, the possibilities are impressive: palatial accommodation in exciting areas for a fraction of what the rent should cost. But similar criticisms about cramped living conditions have also been levelled at the accommodation offered. In addition, there have been numerous horror stories involving short-notice evictions.
It could be argued that this arrangement—a small private bedroom, and common living spaces in the rest of the building—isn’t all that different from living at home, but on a far larger scale. If you like taking a walk on the wild side, property guardianship could be for you. But if you’re the kind of person that needs a more permanent base, perhaps all-inclusive, co-living spaces are the stepping stones for you and other millennials who are craving independence…but not too much independence.