Boomerang generation: Cost of living, travelling the world draws young Kiwis back home

"It was the best option for me."
"It was the best option for me." Photo credit: Supplied

A Wellington woman knew it was time to move back in with her parents when she could no longer afford proper food - but her mother wasn't thrilled about her returning to the nest. 

Moving out of home is a stepping stone to adulthood. It's where young people learn to live independently, make and manage money and spread their wings. 

But some young Kiwis are sacrificing their freedom and just like a boomerang, they're going back to the family home to live with their parents.

Why? Because the cost of living crisis has become unbearable for some, while others cannot save enough to go travelling while also paying rent. 

Newshub put the call out to Kiwis who have decided to move back home and were inundated with messages. Many had a similar story - the cost of being an adult is really hard.

Katie* had been flatting for two to three years when she decided to move home. She found it "stressful" and couldn't afford to eat properly or even go to the doctor. 

"The cost of living played a huge role in moving back home," Katie told Newshub.

She also found dealing with flatmates difficult and said overall it's an experience she wants to avoid if she can.

It's been a year since she moved home and while her mum wasn't stoked to have her back at first, it's paid off. 

She's been able to beef up her savings and is planning to buy her first home. 

"It was the best option for me," She said. 

Katie isn't the only one. Newshub spoke with Otago University Clinical Psychologist Kobus du Plooy who said a new phenomenon is emerging - the "boomerang generation".

Du Plooy said studies out of the United States and the United Kingdom highlighted the boomerang generation, where young adults had decided to move back home. Perhaps going against the traditional norm.

Moving back home was a no-brainer for Andreas. He's spent the last few years studying in Dunedin.

When Andreas returned home to Wellington, he found rental prices were almost double what he had been paying. 

Now a public servant, Andreas said he decided to move home to get "financially ahead of the game" as much as possible. 

It's also helped him cut down on his expenses so he can pay off his student loan and save enough money to travel. 

"I really want to travel and go overseas, and I just thought I could use the money in other ways if I had the option to move back in with my folks."

Andreas has been back at home for about nine months now and is saving about half his paycheck as a result. He hopes to go flatting again next year though because he misses his freedom. 

"I've got full freedom at home but sometimes it doesn't really feel like that. I had quite strict parents growing up as well."

While his parents are less strict now he's an adult, he has to tell his parents a lot more than he would if he had his own place. 

"I'd say definitely just the social aspect I miss most, which has made me want to go back into it (flatting) and meet some new people and be around people the same age as me."

But he said it's nice to know home is always an option. And he thinks his mum likes it too with the rest of his siblings living elsewhere.

"My mum was really over the moon to have one of us back, so I think they were definitely happy about it."

Andreas' partner also moved back in with her parents and so have all of his close friends.

Others Newshub have spoken to echo the same story - it's hard to save or live comfortably when much of their paycheck is being sucked up by living expenses. 

Personal experience - opinion 

In a couple of months, after three years of flatting I will pack up and move back in with my parents.

Just like Andreas and Katie, I find flatting expensive. The cost of living is expensive and I'm moving across the ditch so saving every dollar of my paycheck is vital. 

I'm super grateful, as are Andreas and Katie, to have parents who are supportive because if moving home wasn't an option, leaving the country wouldn't have been either.

I don't believe moving back home should be frowned upon, for previous generations it may have been. But there appears to be a shift in approach. 

'Boomerang generation' 

Du Plooy said in a changing world, especially one where belts are tightening in a cost-of-living crisis, young adults are taking a measured approach. 

"What I read from these studies, it had a lot to do with better planning for the future, so a lot of younger people acknowledging the difficulties," he said.

"The generation itself is actually quite open to the idea that it's not necessarily flawed or anything wrong per se with moving back home."

He said young people now are better at realising when they have overstretched themselves.

"Many of them, in the studies I've read, started work but didn't have sufficient income yet given the current cost of living to support themselves. 

"So it's actually really sound reasoning for them to say, 'Look it's not useful for me to try and force this'."

Du Plooy also said it was interesting that most of the young people who moved home found it useful, not detrimental to their lifestyle.

"There are a lot of positive aspects because people reported a lot of support and it really means a lot to them to have that option. 

"They found a lot of support from their family, even if they couldn't repay them financially for the time that they were there, they would often come to an agreement to support them with tasks at home."

But he warned it can be tricky for people to transition back to living at home once they've moved out. 

"They're used to having their independence and the parents still have a way of looking at them as the children, it's almost like they have to abide by certain regulations or rules that they have before they left."

'It all boils down to communication' 

Du Plooy said anyone thinking about moving home should come up with a plan and make sure everyone's expectations are clear.

He told Newshub "It all boils down to communication", empathy and sitting down and having a meaningful discussion beforehand. 

"If those conversations are had before there's usually not an issue. It's usually when people just move back and those discussions were not had and the expectations are still unsettled, that's usually where there's a clash."

*Some names have been changed for privacy.