News National The rising cost of the adult child who can’t – or won’t – leave home
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The rising cost of the adult child who can’t – or won’t – leave home

Melinda said she would save at least $5000 after her oldest child moves out. Photo: Supplied.
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Australian parents are paying more – and for longer – to support their kids than they have in the past, with the expansion of private school partly to blame, one expert believes.

More people than ever are sending their children to private schools, professor at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research Mark Wooden said.

Simply put, Australia is a “richer nation”, and many parents can afford to spend more on their children.

But there comes a point in which you suddenly say “I shouldn’t be looking after you”, Professor Wooden said.

It’s usually when a child becomes financially independent, he said.

With the “incredible increase in the price of housing … we’re now effectively forcing young people to stay at home longer”.

Collectively, it costs Australian parents $12.2 billion a year to continue to accommodate children who are well into their adult years, a survey by mozo.com.au has revealed.

“A good buddy of mine has three kids … one didn’t quite work out,” Professor Wooden explains.

The friend forced his daughter (who had never had a job) out of home at age 28. But she has been living in his investment apartment ever since, Professor Wooden said.

“In other words, he’s forgoing the $400 a week he used to get from renting that out so his daughter’s got somewhere else to live,” he explained.

Tracey Scott (right) is more confident that her daughter Erin, 17, will be able to secure full-time employment and move out of home in the near future. Photo: Supplied.

On top of the $30,000 a year that mother-of-three Tracey Scott forks out on household necessities, she can’t possibly afford to also fund the independence of her 21-year old son Caleb.

“The boot’s not in his behind but … we would like that he would be able to start his own life for himself,” Tracey, 39, said.

Without a decent job, that task is almost impossible, she said.

“If we weren’t looking after him, he’d probably be in a box somewhere under a bridge.”

Caleb is a part-time worker at a local fish and chip shop. He earns $15 per hour on a nine-hour, three-day shift every week.

Caleb, 21, pictured with his brother Justin, 7. Photo: Supplied.

“That’s just not enough money to have a house and pay the utilities, eat and live,” Tracey said.

For five years of high school, Caleb took part in a maritime program with hopes of joining the navy.

But his application was rejected due to unsatisfactory grades and lack of school attendance. It’s been a downhill road since.

If Caleb were to move out, however, Tracey said there would be a significant reduction in the electricity and gas bill.

“He just spends forever in the day in the shower.

“Now teenage girls I understand because they’re shaving their legs and washing their hair every day.

“They haven’t reached that age where they just don’t care anymore.

“But my son sits on the floor of the shower for 45 minutes everyday just doing nothing.”

Tracey describes Caleb as a “backwards boy”.

He’s “awake all night and asleep all day”, and therefore uses a lot more electricity from “gaming all night”.

There would also be a reduced number of dirty dishes, Tracey pointed out.

“With his work money, he’ll go and buy boxes of EasyMac.

“You know who gets to wash those bowls up, right? That would be me,” she joked.

Caleb has a driving licence but thankfully does not “drive around too much”, she said.

“I tend to chuck a wobbly over him thinking that he could just take my car.

“When he does drive my car, he’s not contributing to the cost of the car.”

Caleb pays only for his $40 phone bill every month.

“We pay for everything else,” Tracey explained.

Mother Melinda (middle) with daughters Hannah (right), 24, and Ruby, 20 (left). Photo: Supplied.

Mother-of-four from Melbourne Melinda Grigg says her 24-year-old daughter will finally be moving out after working full time for about a year.

She estimates she’ll save more than $5000 a year.

“The food adds up. Hannah doesn’t buy her lunch out at work, but takes leftovers from home,” Melinda, 49, said.

“We will save a bit not having to do breakfast, lunch and dinner for Hannah.

“Like all mothers, I hope that all that I’ve given her is enough for her to grow and spread her wings and have a great life.”

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