Should young adults pay board to their Parents?

A closer look at an interesting dilemma.

Soaring house prices and the rising cost of living are prompting younger people to stay in the family nest longer – but at what cost?  While in generations past it was common practice for young Australians working full-time and living at home to help cover household expenses, paying board appears to out of favour.

Should parents ask mature-age offspring to pay board to not only lessen the financial burden, but also teach them valuable life skills?

Bessie Hassan, Money expert, says “Skyrocketing living costs have seen an era of extended child dependency take root across Australia.  People are retiring later and millennials are making much different life choices than their parents did.  Recent research from which included a survey of 2306 Australians aged 16 and older, found that 22 per cent of those aged 25-29 are still living in the family home. The statistics raises many questions for families, not least of which is if, and when, they should start charging board.

No one family is the same, so the decision about whether to charge your kids board is a personal one.  Of the respondents surveyed, around 18 per cent said they would start charging board when their child got a job, while one in five Australians wouldn’t expect rent, regardless of their child’s age of financial circumstances.  Other respondents think parents should start charging board when their children turn 19”.

Another view point comes from Dr Delyse Hutchinson Senior research fellow and clinical psychologist, Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development, Deakin University, who states “There’s a broad perception in Australia that (young adults) living at home with their parents at no financial cost have it easy.  This may indeed be the case for some, however research shows that it certainly does not apply to all.  The 2016 Australian Unity Wellbeing Index survey, which studied a nationally representative sample of Australian adults to monitor the subjective wellbeing of the population, revealed that while young adults aged 18-25 are among the happiest in Australia, those living at home with their parents have a somewhat lower life satisfaction score.  The national average score was 76.7 (out of 100), yet young adults living at home scored 72.0 – the lowest it’s been for 10 years.  This score doesn’t indicate that they’re doing terribly, but does suggest that it may be difficult for them to leave home.  This group also scored the lowest on a range of domains measured by the index, such as personal relationships, community connectedness and achieving in life.

We don’t know how many of these young Australians are paying board.  However, if I put my clinical psychologist’s hat on, I think it’s healthy for young people to make a meaningful contribution to a household.  In some families, this might be in the form of money, which can also help them learn to manage their finances.  In other households, the contribution may be helping with chores.  Simply staying at home and not making a meaningful contribution to the household does not support young people to develop the life skills necessary for adult roles and responsibilities”.

I suppose the bottom line is, there is no right or wrong answer.  It is however, a discussion you should have with your adult children living at home.  Affordability aside, there is the aspect of essential life skills.




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