How to live in harmony with your adult children

Boundaries should be set so your own goals don't fall by the wayside.

If you thought you'd have the house to yourself once the kids reached adulthood, statistics paint a different picture, with more adult children remaining in the family home today than in years gone by.

Not only are children living with their parents for longer, a high portion of those who move out end up coming back within a year or two.

If it's something you’re facing, we look at what you can do to ensure your own goals aren’t overlooked.

What do national statistics reveal?

  • Nearly one in four Aussies aged 20 to 34 continue to live with their parents1
  • More than half of those aged 25 to 29 who have moved out have come back, with 52% lasting less than two years and 20% lasting less than a year out of home2
  • More than 65% cited financial problems (increased cost of living, housing affordability issues and growing education debt) as their main reasons for moving back in.3

How to make living together work

If you have adult children living under your roof, these tips could prove beneficial when it comes to keeping the peace.

Assess the financial impact

It’s worth considering the costs of your adult children living at home, particularly as Australia has one of the highest life expectancies in the world and as a result require a bigger pool of savings to fund additional years in retirement4.

To put it into perspective, September 2016 figures show individuals and couples, around age 65, who are looking to retire today, need an annual budget of $43,372 and $59,619 respectively to fund a comfortable lifestyle – assuming they own their home outright and are in relatively good health5.

Talk about each other’s future goals

Talk with your kids about their plans as well as your own. It’s important that they understand your future goals and vice versa so you can set a bit of a timeframe around how long they’ll stay at home.

For instance, they may be aiming to pay off their education debt or save for a home loan, whereas you may have plans in the future to downsize your home or go on an extended holiday.

Set up an agreement and revisit it

Whether your kids are going to pay board, live rent free, or put what rent they could be paying you into a savings account, it’s a good idea to lay down some ground rules early on.

Things to discuss include whether they’re going to chip in for things like food and utility bills, and how they’ll contribute in the way of household chores—for instance cleaning, cooking and washing up.

You might also consider writing down what you’ve agreed to as a reminder, and reassessing the situation every so often to ensure things are working out as planned.

Help them be financially independent

Nearly 75% of parents in Australia provide financial support to their adult children. While you too may feel obliged to, providing adult kids with regular cash handouts can lead to poor financial behaviour and them living beyond their means because they become too reliant on the bank of mum and dad6.

Teaching your kids how to budget and save, the consequences of unsustainable debt and the benefits of an emergency fund can go a long way, and teach them good habits for when they do move out.

If your kids are involved in time intensive study and are finding it difficult to commit to part-time work, it’s also an idea to look into government allowances they may be entitled to.

Important information

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Although this information is from sources considered reliable, we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, we do not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.