Two Thirds Of Young Irish People Are Still Living At Home – & I’m One Of Them

The figure has doubled in the last decade.

Photo by Steven Hylands / Pexels

As teenagers, everyone craves the freedom that comes with moving out of your childhood home and away from your parents. I know I certainly did!

So much so, that at 21, I packed up my room and moved to London to start my degree. I stayed put all throughout the pandemic watching my friends and flatmates come and go between our house and their parents’ houses. But after five years in London, I made the decision to move back to my childhood home in Dublin, due to my rent rising by £800, in a house that was quite literally falling down around us.

I know I’m not alone in this. It was almost seen as necessary during the pandemic, as 32% of millennials and Gen-zs moved back home during that time, according to a report published by Deloitte Ireland. It’s still a common occurrence too with the rising cost of rent coupled with the housing crisis meaning that a staggering 68% of young Irish people are now living at home with their parents.

Though there is a multitude of reasons, most of them come down to money. I am incredibly lucky and grateful to my parents for letting me come back home. I was living pay check to pay check with £200 to spare per month after rent, travel costs and food. I was in my mid-twenties and I went out once every six months because I just couldn’t afford it.

Now though, I’m able to save every month and still have money left to go out. But instead, I choose to stay in, feeling guilty about spending money on frivolous things when I’m living rent-free in my parents’ house.

This is one of the hard parts of living at home that no one tells you about. Comparison is a hard game to play in your twenties because of the different paths we’re all on. Some of my friends have kids, some are married and some are making €200,000 a year. Meanwhile, I’m stuck living in my childhood bedroom, feeling like 15-year-old me again.

If you’re feeling the need to compare yourself to your friends or people you follow on social media try taking a breath and looking at things from a different perspective. I see my time at my parents’ as a transition period, a way to figure out my next move so I’m not aimlessly wandering the world. Having lived abroad for five years and not returning regularly, spending time with my parents again was a nice plus to being back under the same roof.

It’s a great way to discuss with them who you are as a person now, so you can start treating each other like adults instead of living in the parent-child relationship they associate with you. If they think of you as the same 18-year-old you were when you lived there last, then that’s how they’ll treat you.

30-year-old Lauren* returned to Ireland from Sydney, Australia with her husband and two kids after eight years abroad. They discovered they would be unable to save for a house while renting, so the family was forced to move into her parents’ house. Thankfully she grew up in a large family home so there was enough room. Lauren said the biggest challenge was the lack of independence. Her parents felt everyone should be seated at the family dinner table by 6pm and the kids should be picked up from school.

“We had been in a routine of dinner at 7.30pm and the kids make their own way from school for 8 years and suddenly my parents wanted to change it all,” she says. “It was frustrating to no end! Every time I tried speaking to them my mam would get upset and tell me I was being ungrateful and dismissive when I wasn’t. It really is hard when you have your own family to look after but feel you can’t for fear of causing an argument”.

Moving home creates a loss of independence, which sadly can come at quite a cost to your mental health. Many rely on their friends to keep their spirits up but feel they’re unable to socialise within the walls of their parents’ home.

The lack of freedom can take its toll. I’m still asked to send a text when I’m on my way home after a night out so my mum “knows I’m safe” and all hell breaks loose if I forget! Living on your own, there’s not that same level of surveillance. Sure, you’ll let your friends know if you’re headed home with a guy, but when it’s a parent, you’re transported back to your teen years.

Of course, it’s a privilege to have parents who care about your safety, but it’s less than ideal when you forget, or you’re headed home with your next conquest. But for all the lows of living at home, the fact that I have the privilege of doing so is the highest high. The reality is that many just don’t have a family home to return to.

Some have lost parents, are emancipated or just don’t have a good relationship with them, and have to survive this rent and cost-of-living storm without the fallback of the family home. And as a generation, we really should not have to do that.

This article originally appeared in the May 2023 issue of STELLAR magazine.