Why Australians aren’t leaving the nest – The Costanza Effect

Written by realestateview.com.au in Moving on July 10, 2017

George Constanza from 'Seinfeld' lives at home with his parents for several seasons.

Moving out of home is every teenager’s dream. With the freedom to eat what you want, sleep in as late as you can, and keep your room as (un)tidy as you’d like – there’s a lot of temptation.

But if independence is so highly prized, why are so many Australians still living in their family home throughout their 20s, their 30s—and even their 40s?

Humorously branded ‘The Costanza Effect’ (Seinfeld people!), the number of adult children moving back home with their parents (or never leaving in the first place) is on the rise in Australia.

This can be attributed to many different influences, but the most common reason is rising unaffordability of house prices across the country.

While the average Sydney-sider parts ways with $1.1 million for a house, it’s no wonder so many Aussies are flying back to the nest. It’s even more understandable when you consider that, while housing prices and the cost of living have been rising, wages have risen at a dramatically slower rate.

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The realities of home ownership in Australia

Safety concerns, relationship breakdowns, health issues and financial problems are also contributing to the number of adults living at home – according to the Multigenerational Family Living, a book by University of New South Wales academics Edgar Liu and Hazel Easthope.

But if you’re considering moving back home, there’s much to consider, with various pros and cons to weigh up.

On the plus side…

For many, the comfort and security of a roof over their head is enough to encourage them to stay home, as well as the support, the family connection and the company (the fully-stocked fridge definitely helps, too!).

It can offer a genuine opportunity to get ahead financially too: many young Australians will move home for a period of several months while building a house, or to save for a deposit on their first home.

On the other hand…

There are many creature comforts of home, but such comfort comes at a price.

Living with your parents can invite feelings of childishness as well as a lack of privacy, and relationships can turn sour if boundaries aren’t respected.

Living at home is no doubt a great idea and experience for some, but for others it can be highly stressful. In fact, data from the 2016 Australian Unity Wellbeing Index survey even found that the wellbeing and average life satisfaction is lower for those who live with their parents.


How to make it work

For those who have adult children wishing to move back in with them, or if you are hoping to check back into the mum and dad hotel for a spell, there are a few things you can do to ensure things remain even, fair and respectful:

  • Set a weekly board amount

Even if it’s just a small amount per week, setting a weekly board or rental fee creates a respectful relationship and acknowledges appreciation for the living arrangement.

  • Remain autonomous

Adults should all wash their own clothes (or contribute to the washing routine), and the kids should be involved in cooking dinner one or two nights a week, to contribute to the household.

  • Have a plan

Kids moving home can offer a great short-term solution, but it’s an arrangement that shouldn’t drag out for years, let alone decades! Set some goals and make a plan for the date you’re planning to part ways.

The debt-fuelled housing boom and record-breaking real estate prices have caused financial problems for many Australians, and this trend seems likely to continue in the near future. Economists are frantically trying to speculate whether this potential bubble is about to burst, but in the meantime, Hotel Home appears to be doing a roaring trade!

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