Housing

Adults forced to move back in with parents amid soaring rents and crippling cost of living crisis

The cost of living crisis means it makes sense for increasing numbers to move back home. But is this the death knell it seems?

A man with his two daughters, the middle one is wearing graduate robes

Charlie Culverhouse with her family on her graduation day. Image: Kim Culverhouse

With my Netflix subscription cancelled and avocado toast a long-forgotten dream, I still can’t afford to rent, let alone buy a house. I graduated from my masters degree with no money, stable job prospects or clear way forward. So I moved back. In with my dad, that is.  

Moving home isn’t always an option, but my dad owns his house and can just about tolerate me, so it wasn’t impossible to persuade him to have me back. Still, heading home felt like giving up my independence, my life. But life continued. It even got better. 

It’s not just me out of the 4.9 million people who, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), have moved back in with their parents that have found this to be true. Smriti Joshi, lead psychologist at mental health app Wysa believes that moving home has negative connotations because of the perceived loss of independence, just like I originally believed. But, according to her words and my experience, what you do lose, marginally, in freedom is made up for in support.  

“Leaving your family home brings opportunities to face new challenges and gain a sense of self-reliance,” she says. “But that doesn’t mean staying with a support network is unhealthy. Living with family and being close to a strong community network can provide emotional support, connection, and reduce the likelihood of isolation.” 

Connection with local communities is equally important. Joshi explains: “Having social connections, even small ones like knowing the cashier at your corner shop or a familiar face at your library, can improve
your wellbeing.” 

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Isaac Izekor from London learned the value of this support in 2017 when he left his medical degree and moved back in with family to fix both his mental health and financial situation. 

Isaac Izekor Image: Guy Christopher Hurd

“I was worried about the isolation of living alone and financially couldn’t make sense of moving out when my situation was so precarious,” he says. 

Still, the decision wasn’t an easy one. “Moving back felt like moving backwards, like not keeping pace with my friends. I have way less independence but that’s the exchange. This is my home but it isn’t my house, so like living with any roommates you need a healthy respect for the shared space.” 

In return for his independence, Izekor gained something “irreplaceable”. “There are so many financial plans I’ve managed to make purely because the stress of rent doesn’t hang over my head. And being constantly surrounded by people who love me is irreplaceable. We’re watching each other age in much closer proximity than would be possible if I moved out. Our relationship has really matured because of that.” 

Mary Kim is also reaping the benefits of life at home. She and her partner moved into her parents’ home in Cornwall last year after their landlord increased the rent twice within six months and, despite them both working well-paying jobs, they could no longer afford the price. 

“I’ve found living at home more enjoyable than expected,” she says. “It’s nice to see my family and feel more relaxed about finances.” 

Still, Kim would leave if she could. “I couldn’t afford to live away from home now, even though I could a few years ago when I was in the same job on a lower salary. At some point, I want to save up for a house deposit and I can’t do that while renting in the current climate.” 

We’re going to hear more stories like this. Since June 2022, the ONS found the cost of private rents increased by 5.1% in England, 5.8% in Wales and 5.5% in Scotland, with Rightmove placing the national average asking rent at a record £1,190 a month. In London, the price surpassed £2,500 a month for the first time. So with rent prices soaring and average wages in the UK rising at a vastly slower pace, what is there to do? 

Moving in with your family can be a good plan financially and mentally. As Joshi says, financial stress can have a significant impact on a person’s mental health and lead to issues like increased anxiety and depression. 

If you can put up with your parents or, perhaps more accurately, they can put up with you, what really is the harm in living with them until other options present themselves?  

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is a member of The Big Issue Breakthrough programme, designed to help young people begin a career in the media industry

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