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A new report by the Market Harborough Building Society has shown how expensive children returning to the family home, and those who refuse to leave, can be.

The report surveyed 477 parents of children aged between 23 and 40 who are still living at home and concluded that the additional cost is £3,500 a year, per child.

Extra bills

The bill for looking after these so called ‘boomerang children’ who have left home, often to university, and then returned not only includes the general cost of living but also loans, which may never be repaid.

When children continue to live at home the survey concludes that an extra £300 per month is spent on food, utility bills, nights out and treats. This includes an extra £29.90 on the weekly shopping with an additional £12.78 on treats and snacks

The survey also concludes that nearly half of all ‘boomerang children’ live with their parents rent free.

Leaving home later

The average age of a child leaving home in the UK is now 26, meaning that the finances of parents could suffer significantly, often at a time when they are starting to consider the possibility of retirement.

Based on the average time children finish university courses and then leave home, often for a second time, the average cost could be as much as £10,000 per child.

Mark Robinson, chief executive of Market Harborough Building Society, which conducted the research, said: “Given the difficulty young adults now face with housing, job availability and education, it really isn’t surprising that more and more are returning to the family home.”

Mortgage deposits

As young people find it harder to pull together the necessary deposit and find a suitable mortgage the average age of a first time buyer has jumped significantly in recent years to 36.

The dependency on parents has therefore increased significantly, not only to provide board and lodgings but often to help finance a house deposit for first time buyers, or even guarantee that first mortgage.

This may go some way to explaining why a third of all parents whose children continue to live at home have no savings.

Mark Robinson again: “The harsh reality is that many parents are forsaking their own financial security by looking after their adult children. Parents now face a whole new set of issues – how to prepare for their own future, while providing security for their children’s present.”