Friday 22 September 2017

Boomerangers! Adult kids are moving back home

Alicia
Daly happily
lives with her
mother
Frances.
Photo by
Ronan Lang
Alicia Daly happily lives with her mother Frances. Photo by Ronan Lang

Shane O'Reilly

Picture the scene. It's a Friday night and you're out drinking with what little money you have trying to make it stretch in the cheapest pub in town.

There's the usual craic: lots of laughter, pints being spilt. And couples breaking off in pairs for a quick cigarette outside.

Suddenly your mobile phone rings and you make a rapid exit around the corner from the smokers, telling them you can't hear yourself think. But you've lied. You've seen the name on the screen and reluctantly answer.

So who's the mystery caller? And why can't you reveal their name?

It's your mother. Even though you're now 28, she wants to know when you are coming home for your dinner

It's a growing phenomenon -- one that's explained by a few stark statistics ...

At the start of the year there were 91,646 unemployed people under the age of 25 in Ireland. Emigration is the answer for some; the number of people leaving has risen by 10% in recent times.

The cost of renting may have dropped slightly, but not by as much as wages. High Celtic Tiger salaries are a distant memory for most.

So what is the answer for a growing number of 20-somethings? A return to the nest.

More and more of these 'Boomerangers', as they are labelled, have decided to move back home and start rebuilding their future from scratch, looking past the crisis and toward the long-term possibility of someday owning their own home.

Here we talk with two such people and their familiar landlords.

'It's about taking a step backward to go forward'

Alicia Daly (27) left home two years ago to find work in Australia after completing her law exams. She returned home and moved back in with her mother, Frances (somewhere in her 50s, she says). She recently got a job in marketing and never looked back.

When summer arrived with short bursts of sunshine and rain, Frances Daly found herself in the front garden on a good day. Strolling around the side of the house toward the back garden, she had to laugh.

"As it's summer now, the grass needs cutting more often. We have one of those sit-on mowers and it's quite funny to see little Alicia bouncing up and down the garden on it when most of the time she's rushing in and out of the house dressed up and in heels."

After finishing college, Alicia says she struggled to find a placement anywhere. Foreign shores provided temporary relief with bar work but nothing substantial career wise.

"My mum advised me to stay at home and save. While in college, I had wanted to leave the house and jump on the property market but my mother is a savvy woman and warned me not to.

"She felt very strongly that things were going to get bad. I hate to admit it but I trust her judgment, especially in terms of finance as she comes from an accountancy background."

"Alicia was the self-financing type after school," says Frances. "We paid for her college but she has always worked alongside her classes, finding her own jobs along the way. If she wanted something she got it herself."

The relationship between the two doesn't seem to have frayed at all. In fact, it has strengthened since Alicia's return home.

"I love living at home again. I get frustrated because obviously I have to live by my mum's rules, not mine, but she has always been understanding and open to myself, my brother and sister."

And the praise runs both ways.

"Alicia is my social butterfly. Wherever she goes, she makes friends and I love the sense of fun she brings to the house. We are certainly close but there is a boundary there of course.

"At the end of the day, I'm her mother and she's my daughter. We aren't flatmates and she knows that this is my house she is living in."

Alicia interrupts. "I suppose some things don't change. My room has been a bone of contention for my mum as she's been telling me for the past 27 years to clean it. But I do my own laundry. We do fight about TV the odd time. I've conceded the fight though and now I like watching Alibi TV, especially the Murdoch Mysteries."

But one must wonder how both are approaching the future, surely a bleak outlook. Amazingly, no.

"My mum is always saying how by 30, she was married with a husband, house, three kids and working full-time. So I'm clearly missing some elements. My plan is to move out in the near future and now thanks to living at home again I can do this. It's about taking a step backward to go forward."

Frances of course, gets in the last words of wisdom.

"Alicia can be headstrong sometimes but she listened to me about not buying a few years back at the peak so for the most part, yes, I have full faith in my daughter and her future," she laughs.

"But saying that, I still think she's mad to be even thinking about buying again now."

'I try to do a lot of odd jobs and DIY around the house '

Ronan (26) first moved out three years ago and worked in a number of jobs to pay rent. But he couldn't get a job he really wanted without a college degree, so he returned to his family home to plan his future.

He is now living with his parents and two siblings in Artane, North Dublin. He works full-time for a telecommunications company.

''I'm lucky enough to have a full- time job, doing software support in a call centre. I studied engineering at college, but for various reasons, I didn't complete it," says Ronan.

"I worked at a few weird jobs, including a toy shop and as a gardener, before I got into technical support.

"I've even managed to save up a bit for a possible mortgage or whatever I decide to do."

His mother, Catherine, 51, admits that it has been a surprisingly easy transition. The family bond well on most areas of day-to-day life.

"I understand the current dilemma and decided to treat it with mittens . . . rather than just scream at them and tell them they should be out of the house by now.

"He likes to think that he pulls his weight around the house. We don't have any sort of rota or chores, but he does try to help with the cleaning."

The situation, however, is not without its comical side for Ronan and his family.

"Sometimes," says Ronan, "it can still make you feel like a kid, living at home. Especially when you decide to go out after work, or not come home on a Friday night and you get a text or call asking whether or not you'll be home for dinner.

"It isn't exactly the kind of thing you want your friends to see in the pub."

Ronan is grateful for some home comforts, however -- "One thing I'm rubbish at is laundry. My basket has to start overflowing before I think about putting on a wash.

"Luckily my sister is pretty handy with an iron, so I've escaped having to learn that so far. I reckon I'd be pretty creased if I moved out! I try to do a lot of odd jobs and DIY around the house to make up for lacking in other areas."

He adds, "My dad can be a bit of a nightmare when he's decided the house isn't tidy enough. When he starts cleaning, you know it's too late.

"The best thing you can do is hope he doesn't break something and distract him with the TV."

But like anyone else his age, though focused on a possible mortgage, there are still lingering dreams.

"I've applied for a promotion in work, so that might be a step on the way to independence. Long term, maybe finish my degree. Another fantasy I have is to go and work in Australia for a couple of years."

Irish Independent

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