Moving your grown-up children into their own place...

Getting your child out of the family home and on to the property ladder can be a tough experience, but is often necessary.

Remember letting them go for their first day at school? That scene where the child waves goodbye and disappears into a classroom with their blotchy legs and Lion King backpack, and you know that for the first ever time someone else is responsible for their care for a large part of the day ... well, it’s emotional.

But the point is you let them go, didn’t you? You understood that it was their first step on the road to adulthood. And in the end, your child grew up because of it.

TW LifestyleMother daughter and sales executive

Leaving the nest

There are loads of online articles – from the humorous to the quite severe – about the adult child who has drifted into permanent residency at the old family home. They’re all written by the parents who complain that the son or daughter won’t ‘leave the nest’ like it’s all the kid’s fault. But often it isn’t.

There’s no doubt that taking that first step on the property ladder is significantly harder today than it was a generation ago, and it’s fair to say that a few extra years in the family home can be a big help.

After all, spending a little more time to save a deposit can make the difference between a young person being able to afford a first home a little further down the line and being stuck in rented accommodation long into the future.

Enabling our grown-up children to stand on their own two feet is vital – but the difficulty for parents can often be knowing when to let go.

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Knowing what’s right

There are plenty of families who have made a deliberate decision to share a household, for cultural, financial or medical reasons. If you’re in a situation where your adult child is living with you and it’s mutually beneficial and mutually respectful, and it’s everyone’s choice, that’s OK, of course. 

If it really is a temporary measure, during periods of unemployment, low pay or messy separation proceedings, that’s absolutely fine too.

This article is mainly for those parents who have drifted from carers to caretakers without realising; looking after their kids long after their messy student days and way into sensible adulthood, with no decision and little proper discussion.

Your job as parents, is to help, encourage and even cajole them into moving on, every bit as much as it was on that first day at school.

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The five questions

The first thing to do is to ask yourself five questions:

1. Are you unhappy with your adult child living at home?

2. Is the arrangement holding you or your adult child back?

3. Does your adult child, however charming they may be, take you for granted?

4. Are you or they scared to move on?

5. Has the situation become intolerable?

If the answer to any of the questions above is ‘yes’, then the time has come. You need to encourage your grown-up child to get their own place.

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What to do next

Firstly, you might need to change your own view of your offspring. It may be you’re all still stuck in the parent bird to baby bird mode. In reality, your child is an adult and as capable as you of making it in the world. You are doing them a disservice by treating them as if they weren’t.

Secondly, you may need to create some new boundaries. Do this as a couple, if two parents are involved. You need to both agree the new rules, and not have one being the hardliner and the other one who keeps slipping the kid a tenner.

Set an appropriate rent – a useful rule of thumb for how much to charge is 10 to 20% of their take-home pay – and start parcelling the household chores out more equitably. Imagine if it was your tenant who expected you to do their ironing, or graciously allowed you to pay their monthly phone bill. Would you do it? Well, quite.

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Close the bank

Finally, shut down the Bank of Mum and Dad altogether, even if you have to do it in stages. You’re not doing either of you any favours if you don’t let your child pull their financial weight.

You’re also denying yourself the pleasure of spending the money you’ve earned. Remember, if you’re subsidising your grown-up child by, say, £50 a week, that’s £2,500 a year – and that’s another holiday for two adults that you’ll never go on.

Will the loss of Mum and Dad cash hurt your offspring? Maybe, yes. But it’s OK for your adult child to be a bit uncomfortable. We’ve all been uncomfortable and survived. It’s actually been good for us. More than that, the key to change is feeling uncomfortable, and taking steps to get to a better place.

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Help is at hand

If you believe everything you read in the papers, you’d be forgiven for thinking that home ownership was an impossible dream for young people in 2016 – but the reality is very different and there is help available to make purchasing a property more affordable.

Perhaps the biggest boon to first-time buyers in today’s housing market is the Help to Buy scheme. This lets purchasers access a 20% equity loan from the Government towards the cost of new-build homes, which means they only need a 5% deposit.

The loan is interest-free for the first five years and because it enables buyers to make a purchase with a 75% loan-to-value mortgage, they can access a wider range of lower-interest deals. Eligibility is pretty flexible too – there’s no upper salary limit and Help to Buy is available with new-build homes priced up to £600,000 in England, £300,000 in Wales and up to £230,000 in Scotland.

Obviously property prices vary depending on where you live but, as an example, a £200,000 home can be purchased under Help to Buy with a deposit of just £10,000. So if you have the resources to help your child out with that deposit, you could be helping them to fly the nest much sooner than you’d previously imagined!

If money is tight, there’s also the Help to Buy ISA to consider. This is another Government initiative aimed at those saving for a deposit which sees the Treasury boost first-time buyers savings by 25% up to a maximum of £3,000.

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Moving out and on

When it’s time to go, your adult child will have understood. They will be starting a new chapter. They will be nervous, but excited. And they’ll still visit and still love you.

Will their new place be as comfortable as the parent’s place? Probably not. They’ll have had to downgrade, just like you did when you left home.

But there really has to come a time when you stop buying them alarm clocks and bed linen and reminding them to save some of the club money for the taxi fare home. Because ultimately what you’re saying is: “We love you. That’s why we want you to succeed in life and be an adult and have the chance to stand on your own two feet.” 

And what’s more, they know you’re right – they knew it all the time.

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