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Forever young: how the housing market is delaying our journey to adulthood


We’ve heard non-stop about how millenials have been royally messed around by the preceding one and how the chances of many of us ever being able to afford our own home and get on that elusive property ladder are slim to none. But, now, it also turns out the housing bubble might be hindering our chances of ever becoming fully-fledged adults, too.

But you’re an adult when you turn 18, aren’t you? We hear you ask. Or is it 21? Or 25?

Apparently not. According to new research published in the Journal of Youth Studies, members of Generation Rent living in expensive or rural areas, may struggle to settle down in life. The lack of stable home environment is inhibiting their transition to adulthood.

The news comes not long after figures released earlier this year by PwC revealed that by 2025, a mere 40% of Londoners will own their own home, compared with 60% in 2000.


The lack of stable home environment is inhibiting Generation Rent's transition to adulthood.

Researchers at the University of St Andrews and the University of Sheffield made their conclusions after drawing on data from two studies. The first, drawn from a sub-set of the ‘Mind the (Housing) Wealth Gap’ project looked at the experiences of young people aged between 18-35 from Scotland. The second was from a follow-up study about housing in Scotland, in which researchers directly interacted with young renters and landlords. The data, although drawn from Scotland, can be applied nationwide.

Researchers said that a key marker of adulthood was being able to move out of the family home and into one's own home - and that many young people associate adulthood with self-sufficiency and independence. "The terms 'settling down' and 'putting down roots' were frequently used to convey these expectations and desires, along with highlighting the importance of remaining fixed in a place as a means of facilitating these processes," say researchers.

"As well as pointing to the significance of place, participant's narratives were consistent with the argument that young people wish to obtain the same levels of security that adults are perceived to have."

The young people in the studies, however, reported feeling unable to realise their independent ‘home and security goals', due to short-term tenancies, leading to an overwhelming feeling of frustration.

Rhona, 29, says: “I feel particularly frustrated with having been in rented accommodation for so long and having to move on every year – it’s difficult to put down roots and it’s just got really expensive.”

The same feelings were expressed by members of the Stylist.co.uk team:

Sarah, 27, says: “My very expensive ‘home’ doesn’t really feel like a home. I’d love to be able to decorate it how I want it but it feels too temporary to bother. I feel like I’m borrowing my home, like a wandering nomad.”

Moya, 24, says: “I've heard so many horror stories about people's landlords suddenly hiking their rent and kicking them out that I'm constantly nervous about the same thing happening to us."

Additionally, the report found that many young people consider the dawning of adulthood to arrive with parenthood and the starting of a family. This was seconded by the above Stylist.co.uk poll, that reveals the majority of people feel they are official an adult once they have a child. 


However, many people interviewed during the study revealed a reluctance to have children without first owning their own place.

Sarah, 25, says: “We do want to have a family, we do want to get married, there are not going to be any of those things unless we have a solid house!”

As well as the unstable feelings of renting, increasing numbers of young people are living with their parents for much longer, in order to try and save money – encumbering their route to adulthood even further.



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