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Full nest households

The financial pressure on parents providing board to their adult offspring

Parents with adult children living under their roof are spending £1,200* more than their Empty Nester counterparts each year on everyday household expenditure, bringing the total annual cost of ‘Full Nest Syndrome’ in the UK to £3.2 billion[1].

Meet the Full Nesters, a new report recently published by the Scottish Widows think tank Centre for the Modern Family, delves into the financial, practical and emotional strain placed on parents who are providing room and board for their adult offspring, and it also explores the impact this is having on the modern family dynamic.

Boomerang kids
With the latest figures showing that more than a quarter of adults between 20–34 are still living at home[2], and a fifth (19%) of students are opting to stay at home while studying[3], the ‘Boomerang Kid’ phenomenon is increasingly morphing into a ‘Never Fledged Generation’ – those for whom the high cost of living and accommodation means they are unable to fly the nest, even for a short time.

To cope with the additional cost of having their adult children living at home for longer, the report finds that Full Nesters are making greater financial sacrifices than Empty Nesters across the board, with some putting their own financial future at risk.

One in three (31%) have cut spending on vital items such as groceries, compared to 21% of empty nesters, while 16% have needed to take out a loan, spent on credit cards or gone overdrawn, against 7% of empty nesters. A third (30%) of Full Nesters report they are contributing less to their savings, while more than one in four (28%) are spending their savings to meet the cost of everyday living.

Compromising future plans
In contrast to Empty Nesters, Full Nesters are prioritising their family in the here and now, often at the expense of their future plans. Almost half (44%) say their current focus is providing for their family, compared to 23% of Empty Nesters, while a third of Full Nesters (34%) are focused on paying off debt, compared to 17% of Empty Nesters. Moreover, many Full Nesters are conscious that this could be compromising plans for later life, with a quarter (24%) saying they wish they were able to focus more on preparing for the future.

On top of covering the cost of having adult children under their roof, the report finds many Full Nesters are providing additional financial support to their offspring. Two thirds (62%) of Full Nesters say they are financially supporting their children, compared to just 37% of Empty Nesters, with 32% of Full Nesters not expecting to get the money back. Despite this, the majority (63%) are happy to lend money to help their family members out.

Meet the Full Nesters, the second of three reports to be released this year by the Centre for the Modern Family looking at intergenerational finances, identifies eight generation groups* within the modern family unit, who are still feeling the impact of living costs in different ways as the UK comes out of recession.
* For the purposes of this research, the Centre for the Modern Family identified eight generation groups that exist in the modern family today:
1) Individuals living with friends in rented accommodation
2) Under-34s living at home with parents
3) Co-habiting/married couples without children
4) Parents with children under 18
5) Parents with grown-up children (over 18) who are still at home (full nesters)
6) Parents with grown-up children (over 18) who have left home (none still at home) (empty nesters)
7) Grandparents providing childcare for family members (grandchildren or otherwise)
8) Providing regular care and support for a relative
[1]ONS data shows that there are 2.7 million households in the UK with adult children living at home. Centre for the Modern Family data shows that the average monthly household spend reported by Full Nesters is £460, compared to £360 for Empty Nesters, which equates to an additional annual spend of £1,200. Multiplied by the ONS figure of 2.7 million full nests gives an overall figure of £3.3 billion
[2]ONS Young Adults Living with Parents 2013
[3]Higher Education Statistics Authority
The research was completed by YouGov and the findings are based on 2,082 online interviews with a nationally representative sample of adults aged 18 and over living in the UK. The interviews were conducted between 28 April and 1 May 2014.