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'It has stunted my life': Readers share their experiences of adults living with their parents

We asked readers to share their stories, and heard from both adults living at home and parents whose kids have moved back in.

WE ASKED READERS to get in touch and let us know what it’s like when grown-ups are living with their parents.

Between couples saving for a home, full-time postgraduate students, and evictions, many adults have been forced to stay in – or return to – their family home. For some, the housing crisis means there’s no end in sight to the arrangement.

Over half a million adults in Ireland are living with their parents, according to the last census.

It’s clear that many young people are not only struggling to get on the property ladder, but can’t find or afford a place to rent. Recent figures show that the average rent for new tenancies in Ireland has risen by almost 9% since last year. 

Those living at home say that it has affected their mental health, their studies, their marriages, and their relationships with their parents.

On the other hand, some parents housing their adult children are happy to help out, despite the challenges.

Here are some of the stories we heard.

‘A living nightmare’

One reader wrote in and said: “We lived with my in-laws when I was pregnant as we were saving for a mortgage. It was a living nightmare.

“Once baby came, there were no boundaries, no respect for our ‘privacy’.”

She says she had a “major fallout” with her husband’s parents.

“I abruptly left and had to live with my parents until we found a place to rent,” she said.

“The in-law relationship has never been the same. Hubby and I had to go to marriage counseling for two years, the fallout was that bad.

“I pushed through and everything worked out over time, but it was the most emotional trauma I’ve ever been through.

“Don’t do it. And definitely don’t do it with a baby on the way.”

‘The housing market is not kind to those who are single’

Another reader said that being single has significantly hampered her ability to afford her own place.

“I am 37 years old, single and have a good job in the public sector. The housing market is not kind to those of us who are single.

“I live at home with two older siblings who also find themselves in the same situation as me – simply pushed out of rental/buying market because we don’t earn enough to be able to live alone,” she said.

“We have an elderly father who is widowed and has been in ill health for many years. While it’s a very uncomfortable living situation (we are cramped in a three-bedroom house with one bathroom) my father would not survive on his own with bills, etc.

“We find ourselves stuck in a situation that we can’t get out of. I have no hope of ever owning my own home and feel like I can’t leave my father.

“The older generation are treated so poorly in life and I almost feel they are forgotten.

“I sympathise with the youth of today, I can’t see it getting much better for them as they get older, unless there are some drastic changes in government.

“Ireland has a booming economy and the exchequer sees billions every year, but for the working class, it’s simply living paycheck to paycheck and hoping costs don’t continue to rise.”

‘It was like a long holiday visit’

Not all stories we heard were negative. One parent wrote in about how her daughter and her daughter’s husband, who are both in their thirties, stayed with her while the couple finished their new home.

“She had lived away from home for 13 years. We were thrilled to have her and her husband stay with us. We had plenty of room for them and their cat,” she said.

“We got on really well. I did most of the cooking. They did it sometimes. We got a takeaway once a week, we took turns sharing the cost.

“We didn’t want (or need) any other financial contribution. I did most of the housework, which I was happy to do. My daughter and her husband are good at keeping the house tidy.

She said that, after the pandemic, she was “delighted” to have more people in the house. 

“I’d have no hesitation having them again if the need arose,” she continued.

“I suppose it was like a long holiday visit for us, because they used to visit every six weeks before they came to live with us.

“They also enjoyed being here. They were very comfortable. They both worked from home. We were able to facilitate this for them.”

‘Not enough houses being built’

Another parent spoke of how rising house prices in the capital have meant her adult children have to choose between living at home or living outside of Dublin. 

“At present I have two adult children living in our home. My third child – a daughter – has just moved out a month ago with her partner and new baby to their new home,” she explained.

“My son, with his recent wife and 10-month-old, hope to move in the next six months to a new house, as houses in our village are over €450k and unaffordable for first time buyers.”

The reader said her eldest daughter and her partner are saving for a house too and “both have good salaries” but in the area of suburban north Dublin where they hope to buy, houses cost “over €600,000″.

“House prices are just mad. Not enough “affordable” houses being built. Not enough houses being built.

“What a country we have.”

‘I no longer see a future in Ireland’

Another reader, who is 32-years-old and living at home while completing his PhD, said he genuinely fears for the future of Ireland.

“I’m from Co. Tipperary, a town where we have an abundance of empty homes, derelict homes, holiday homes and Airbnbs, but literally two rentals – four-bedroom houses – at over 2k a month,” he wrote.

“Living at home has stunted my life, relationships are impossible, and you feel like you’ve failed at times.

“I am lucky because my PhD topic is on Housing Policy so I know that this is a policy problem and this gives a limited amount of solace.

“[The government] has essentially stripped my generation of our right to a life.

“My uncle in his 40s recently had to move into our grandparents’ spare room.”

The reader said he doesn’t see a future in Ireland for himself, and is planning on moving to Vancouver after his PhD, where his friends “seem to be living something that resembles a normal life”.

“This is the second time I have had to emigrate,” he continued.

“At the height of the recession, I left school with no job and went to Australia for two years, came home to study my degree and I funded my own MA and now my PhD.

“I fear for the future of Ireland. We have no social contract and no vision, outside of economic success that is not representative of the society.”

The reader said he believed Ireland’s apparent economic success does not represent a success for society.

“It’s sad to see the rise of xenophobia, which is a direct result of poor policy decisions and a lack of urgency to address issues such as addiction, mental health and housing.

“I have genuine fears that Ireland will become a miniature version of modern day Great Britain, and eventually fold in on its own contradictory economic narrative.”

‘Living with my parents has damaged my marriage’

A reader living with her husband in her parents’ house has found saving money difficult, as they often use eating out as an ‘escape’.

“We have no peace or privacy living with my parents, and my husband and I are living in my old bedroom while we save to buy our home after selling our last house during Covid,” she said.

“My old bedroom is only fit for a single bed, not a double one. We feel cramped and get cabin fever regularly.

“We eat our meals and watch TV in my old bedroom; it’s the only place we have alone time together and can talk to each other in private.

“It is extremely stressful at times not having our own space. Most of our stuff is still in boxes as there is no room in the house for us to put our stuff.

They are both pursuing master’s degrees, but working at home is less than ideal.

“Living with parents at our age has damaged our mental health and our marriage, and I’m sure we’re not the only ones,” she continued.

“The whole process has made us consider emigrating.

“We eat out a lot and waste our money doing that because we can’t have a meal in quiet in the house and we need an ‘escape’, but that defeats the purpose of saving.

“Obviously, we can save a lot more living at home, but at what cost to our sense of freedom and happiness.

“Although we moved in to my parents house to buy our forever home, we shouldn’t have been forced to make that decision. No wonder young people have mental health issues in this country.”

‘I can’t live with my parents’

One reader who doesn’t currently live at home contacted us to point out that living at home to save money is not an option for many.

“I can’t live with my parents because it’s a deeply toxic and abusive environment and would be dangerous for my mental wellbeing,” she said.

“It would completely upend the life I’ve built through grit and determination in spite of them and would set me back 20 years and all the therapy I’ve had to have to process my childhood.

“This idea of living with your parents as an adult, without acknowledging how many families are dysfunctional, toxic and downright abusive is hugely problematic.

“Even before the crisis, we knew that people lived on the streets as it was so unsafe at home. The reality is that plenty of renters also had unsafe family homes then too, but had access to at least rent and escape. Now that’s not an option. They’re trapped.”

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