My grown-up daughters live at home but are no snowflakes - buying a house is a pipe dream for them

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“We can hardly blame Gen Z and millennials for feeling angry and hopeless.”

In the late-1990s, I left my working-class family home as a teenager and moved into a rented house share in Bury for £35 per week. Today that room would cost an average of £550 a month. 

I have lived in various private rented homes since then, including one with a consistently broken boiler, one which was so infested with black mould that I could not safely sleep in the bedroom and one where the landlady would frequently let herself in without permission. 

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I bought my first home with my husband in 2022. We had scraped a deposit together during lockdown which was topped up by an insurance payout after our rented house flooded and destroyed our possessions. 

Lisa Valentine centre with daughters Megan, left and Lucie, rightLisa Valentine centre with daughters Megan, left and Lucie, right
Lisa Valentine centre with daughters Megan, left and Lucie, right

The only way we could afford to stay in the area we lived in was to buy a home which hadn’t been renovated for more than four decades, despite us having little DIY knowledge nor the funds to modernise it.  Discovering that the bathroom waste pipes were not connected and leaked through the ceiling on the night we moved in wasn’t the ideal start and we found dangerous electrical work hidden amongst other costly issues. 

We are learning to live with the leaking radiators, blown windows and rotten fencing as our previous disposable income has been almost fully absorbed by rising utility and food costs in the past two years. 

Despite this, I feel incredibly fortunate to be a homeowner - something that is becoming a pipe dream for so many people, including my own adult children. My 20 and 23-year-old daughters also live with us and are currently struggling to save for their own homes, despite both being debt-free and in full-time employment. 

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Land Registry data tells us the average house in the UK costs £284,691. With salaries at £34,963, it now costs more than eight times someone’s annual income to buy a house, compared to just under three times in 1971.

My daughters work long hours, live within their means and put away money in lieu of paying rent each month yet still face the prospect of being unable to own their own homes as house prices have doubled in Manchester since 2013. 

Lisa Valentine with Megan, Lucie and AdamLisa Valentine with Megan, Lucie and Adam
Lisa Valentine with Megan, Lucie and Adam

This becomes especially difficult when they factor in buying a home without a partner, inheritance or a donation from the bank of mum and dad. The stigma they and their peers face feels so unfair, with terms such as ‘snowflake’ and ‘entitled’ being bandied around by people born in a period where home ownership was far more accessible than it is now. 

Even renting a home is an unlikely outcome for them as waiting list numbers for affordable social housing vastly outweighs the supply available and the private rental sector often feels like rolling a dice with insecure contracts, increasing rents and poor living conditions. 

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Western parents have previously shared woes of ‘empty nest syndrome’ while in contrast, we are accepting that our children may realistically still be living in the family home well into their thirties.  

The consequences of this are complicated. For us, having four adults living under one roof means that privacy is often compromised for all of us and the opportunity for independence is stunted. Frustrations about the future can cause friction and traditional familial roles sometimes become blurred as we all juggle chores and work commitments.

 

My daughters have all the responsibilities of adulthood but without the benefits or freedom of their own space. Most of their friends are in similar situations, apart from the very few who have been supported through generational wealth.  Some are even skipping pension payments as they don’t believe they’ll ever be able to retire given the current climate and cost of living crisis. 

These are ambitious, clever young adults who simply cannot see a feasible way of owning a home in the future despite doing everything ‘right’. They are going to university, building careers and saving money, only to find themselves still living in their childhood bedrooms and priced out of the current housing market through no fault of their own. 

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Even people in my own friendship group live with housemates in their 40s in an effort to make ends meet while facing rapidly rising living costs. With one Tory MP openly admitting to struggling to pay a mortgage on his generous salary, it leaves a bitter taste for those of us on a fraction of that income.

We can hardly blame Gen Z and millennials for feeling angry and hopeless - let’s stand together, support Project Peter Pan and call for urgent change around this growing crisis. 

What is Project Peter Pan?

National World's 17 city world division news titles are collaborating to launch Project Peter Pan: championing the lost generation.

Project Peter Pan - launched as the UK heads toward a general election in 2024 - aims to use our collective local media power online to give a voice to those in their 20s and 30s who have negotiated a pandemic, work hard and are ambitious, yet are lost.

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They told our reporters they are frozen out of the housing ladder and stuck in a rental cycle often in substandard accommodation or they are in debt and facing impossible decisions. Meanwhile, they face accusations of 'laziness' as costs of living spiral, sparking a mental health epidemic. Politicians should take heed - they have a lot to say.

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