Diana Clement: Boomerang kids moving home in droves to save for house deposit

Stay home, save money. Prospective first-home buyers are moving back with their parents in droves. In fact, some of those boomerang “kids” are distinctly middle aged, not just in their 20s, according to a survey from financial data provider Canstar.

Before you dismiss it, give a thought to how other societies live compared to the norm here. In many countries you don’t leave home until you get married or need to move for work. You could transpose that for “buy a home” here.

Moving home to save money isn’t unprecedented in the world but has more of a stigma in western societies.

Nonetheless it’s a sacrifice that many New Zealanders are willing to make to get on the property ladder, says Jose George, general manager of Canstar.

Canstar’s regular consumer pulse survey polls 2500 people on a variety of personal finance and consumer topics. The latest survey found that more than half of the people saving for a house deposit were living at home with parents.

What the survey showed is that it’s not just the occasional younger person swallowing pride to move home. It’s the majority of potential first-home buyers among the survey participants. Even George’s own 23- and 25-year-old children have been doing exactly the same.

The survey noted that more than half of those in this situation of being boomerang kids had a household income of more than $120,000.

Living in multi-generational whare comes with many advantages. It costs less to buy and cook food in bulk, and hopefully you have more people sharing the utility bills. It’s not just financial. The childcare burden can be shared. Or if the parents are ageing and struggling to look after themselves, there is someone to help.

When split out by age and location, the survey results showed that young to middle-aged Aucklanders were by far the most likely to stay home to save for a deposit, which isn’t surprising considering the house prices in our city. Of those saving for a deposit in Auckland, 71 per cent were living at home.

The Canstar survey showed that some of those “young” people aren’t all that young. Of Aucklanders living with their parents to save for a house deposit, around two thirds were aged between 30 and 50, says George.

I often hear the comment that it’s impossible to buy a home, and that it’s not worth saving. I was pleased to see that of the respondents who were renting, 90 per cent of those aged 18 to 29 were saving for a first home.

The majority were saving between 20 and 30 per cent of their income, while a quarter are saving between 10 per cent and 20 per cent. Half will use KiwiSaver, while nearly a third will draw on family help.

Not all parents can help their offspring with deposits. Providing a roof over their head is the next best thing. If you can subsidise them with housing costs, all the better. Even if you need them to pay board/rent it still helps. That will be cheaper than renting.

For those adult children who can’t live with their parents, for whatever reason, another way to double down on savings is to live in a shared house. It’s not ideal if you’re in a couple. But life isn’t perfect or easy. You do need to make sacrifices.

Another option could be moving to a rental with one fewer bedrooms, or to a cheaper area. It could save you $100 a week or more, which soon adds up.

If you’re serious about saving, then it goes much further than just moving home or downsizing your living situation. We all have non-essentials in our day-to-day spend. Identifying and then minimising them is the issue. It’s natural to confuse wants with needs.

If you need some ideas join the Kiwi First Home Buyers Group on Facebook. It’s packed full of useful information and moral support for first-home buyers, and you can see how others are doing it.

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