Wednesday 23 May 2018

'Some of them are delusional' - Brendan Courtney on Millennial house hunters living at home with parents

Casting is underway for second series of This Crowded House

Bunking up: This Crowded House on RTÉ2 with Brendan Courtney and the Kennedy family in Palmerstown
Bunking up: This Crowded House on RTÉ2 with Brendan Courtney and the Kennedy family in Palmerstown
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Presenter Brendan Courtney has revealed he is constantly approached by Irish mammies asking him to help them to encourage their adult children to fly the nest.

Last year the first series of his show This Crowded House was an enormous success as it resonated with families across the country in which adult children in their mid 20s and 30s were forced to move back home to live with their parents as a result of the rental crisis and soaring house prices.

With parents secretly wanting their homes back and their offspring desperately wanting their independence, they turned to Brendan and the show to help them find a way out of what often seemed like an impossible situation.

Since the series aired, Brendan has been approached by as many parents as he has adult children looking for help.

“I’ve had hundreds of women coming up to me in supermarkets and shopping centres saying ‘Oh you wouldn’t come and get him out would you? Help us!  I want my house back!’” he laughs.

With one series under his belt, and casting a second (12 people for six episodes this time around), he has one piece of advice for anyone, Millennial or otherwise, stuck living at home with their parents.

“Adult children in their mid 20s and mid 30s revert to being teenagers when they go home,” he says.

“Treat the person who’s letting you live rent free like a king or queen and they’ll never ask you to move out. Keep the house clean, buy them dinner, treat them as if it’s your aunt.  You’d be really respectful.  You’d wash your cup after you.  You wouldn’t leave your clothes lying around.  You wouldn’t leave the bathroom dirty.  And then you’re welcome.”

He adds, “Often it’s the fact that people are resentful about living at home that means they’ve no respect for it. “

However, while Brendan (46) admits his attitude towards people on the show was pretty harsh initially, he did manage to cast his mind back to be in his twenties and feeling trapped at home and not having his freedom or independence.

“When I started I was like, ‘get over it’, especially the ones living in Castleknock with their parents.  I was like, ‘This is grand!  What’s wrong with this?’ but then when I remembered what it’s like to want your independence - and it’s a rite of passage as an adult, a natural desire to want your own independence -  I did feel for them.

“It must feel so regressive and debilitating to feel that way as an adult.  So I understand both sides of the coin.”

Read more: 'His mam cuts his toenails...' - Brian (26) caused a bit of a stir with This Crowded House viewers last night

Although the show only managed to successfully relocate four of the eight featured in the series, the remaining four availed of the expertise of no-nonsense finance guru Eoin McGee to formulate plans for the longer term.  He went through their finances with a fine tooth comb, leaving no transaction unexposed, and Brendan says his advice is “invaluable”.

“Eoin’s clients are earning in excess of €250,000 a year and they’re normally getting advice around investment,” he says.  “So the advice Eoin is offering people on the show cannot be bought.  It’s life-changing.  It’s invaluable and it’s really insightful about what you need to put in place in order to get what you want.”

Unfortunately, what many Millennials living at home want is way beyond their means whether it’s a brand new two-bed apartment with a south-facing balcony on a teacher’s salary in Dublin or a house in your hometown when you’re fond of online betting and astronomical mobile phone bills or a stand-alone pod house in your parents’ back garden.  Brendan says some people are ‘delusional’ when it comes to their plans.

“There’s desperation and there’s a couple of eejits,” he laughs.  “I really liked them all but God some of them were delusional about what they could achieve.  That’s just the exuberance and positivity of youth. 

“It’s also a slight Millennial thing, a slight sense of entitlement.  They’ve had quite nice childhoods.  They’ve had pretty much everything they needed come to them so they believe it will come to them and all of a sudden it doesn’t.  Your parents would give [a house] to you if they could.  Even if they could there is no house to give you because there’s no supply.”

He says the delusional people “soon have the delusion knocked off them”.

“It’s a bit like Simon Cowell talking to a person who can’t sing – here’s the reality of your situation, now let’s make plans going forward for what you can achieve with your life. It’s really good.  It gives them good foundations.  It’s tough love.”

However, it’s not all the Millennials’ fault.  Brendan believes some parents who are eager to give their children everything they may not have had themselves may be doing them a disservice by raising them to expect to get whatever they want whenever they want it.

And he blames the education system, which fails to equip kids and young adults with adequate personal finance skills.

“We don’t teach financial advice, or financial awareness in schools, and it’s really important because if your financial health is bad your life is bad.  You don’t have economic choice, you have nothing,” he says.

“They are skills that stay with you for life.  Navigating your financial life is a skill you can learn but you need to be taught it.”

While the first series was timely, the second is even more so with rent and property prices continuing to sky rocket. 

Read more: Brendan Courtney: It’s really tough without dad, but he’s left an amazing legacy

“The first series just hit the nail on the head of what was resonating with people at the time,” he says, adding that he is aware that highlighting the plight of Millennials stuck at home having their washing done and tea brought up to them in bed may irk some when other people are literally on the streets.

 “I’m very conscious to always say that the property crisis goes from people on the street seeking emergency housing to Millennials trapped in their parents’ houses and this is just one window on the crisis, the people trapped at home.  It’s not the whole crisis,” he says. 

If you would like to apply to appear on the new series of This Crowded House simply email crowdedhouse@indiepics.ie or call 01-7088181.

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