Older Australians happy to embrace their empty nests

Getting kids out of the family home contributes to financial and social freedom.

Older Aussies embrace empty nests

While many older Australians experience mixed feelings about their children leaving home, most are embracing the new-found freedom it affords, according to a study released by the Australian Seniors Insurance Agency.

The Empty Nesters report explores how older Australians feel about their children leaving the family home from an emotional, financial and social perspective.

According to YourLifeChoices’ recent Retirement Matters survey, 17 per cent of members still have an adult child living in the family home.

Of the YLC members with an adult child living at home, almost one third do not pay rent or contribute to household expenses.

According to the Empty Nesters report, although more than half (51.4 per cent) of older Australians say they were happy after their children first left home, one in four (41.1 per cent) admit they were sad at the development.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, mothers are more affected by their children leaving than fathers.

Men were more likely to say they felt happy when their children moved out (61.3 per cent vs 42.8 per cent) while women were more likely to be upset (49.4 per cent vs 31.4 per cent).

No matter the initial reaction, however, most eventually embrace their empty nester status. In fact, the majority (74.2 per cent) say they ended up enjoying the extra time at their disposal, their financial position changed for the better (67.8 per cent) and they felt a new sense of freedom (62.5 per cent) after their children first moved out of home.

Elisabeth Shaw, Chief Executive at Relationships Australia NSW said: “For many Australian seniors, becoming empty nesters is a bittersweet moment.

“On the one hand, parents are proud to see their children make their way in the world; however, the lack of day-to-day contact after years of living under one roof can be a difficult transition.

“Happily, this research says that most seniors soon find they have plenty to do once the children have flown the nest.

“Seniors can embrace old interests, social events and friendships that may have been put on the backburner while they were busy with the family, or even take up entirely new hobbies with their extra time and, in many cases, improved financial situation.

“It’s encouraging to see seniors are using their free time to improve their health, with the research showing 30.8 per cent of seniors who took up sports or exercise began walking more, while others are furthering their study, most commonly in the arts and humanities.”

Not all nests stay empty, however. Almost a third (32.3 per cent) of those surveyed have experienced ‘boomerang children’ who left home but ended up moving back in, most commonly for financial reasons (39.5 per cent) or due to relationship issues like a break up (31.8 per cent).

These boomerang children occasionally bring an entourage with them – 19.1 per cent bringing home their partners, while one in eight (12.7 per cent) say they brought their own children with them.

“Parents want the best for their kids and are likely to welcome their ‘boomerang children’ back into the family home,” Ms Shaw said.

“This can force seniors to make sacrifices that often go unnoticed by the returning child. However, as long as they’re willing to help out around the home and are respectful of their parents, there’s no reason why seniors and their adult children can’t continue to live together happily,” she added.

How did you cope with becoming an empty nester? Do you still have adult children living at home? How do you feel about the situation?



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    17th Oct 2018
    I have coped very well since my children left the nest. I have more time, money and freedom.
    17th Oct 2018
    Yep i will to. But i downsized to a 2 bedroom so it deters more than 1. Lol
    17th Oct 2018
    Our kids all stayed at home until they married (something with which we quietly feel pleased about). When the final child married we, in a way, downsized going from a 3-bedroom to a 2-bedroom plus sewing room. Same address, different configuration. Life is good
    East of Toowoomba
    17th Oct 2018
    Our youngest moved out of home 12 years ago and we've never looked back.

    Our relationship became closer and we have found doing things as a couple so much more enjoyable with only the two of us to please and the financial benefits are a bonus. Our kids think we are daggy but who cares what they think, they don't have to join us on our picnics or trips to the movies etc. We please ourselves what we do and couldn't be happier.
    Old Geezer
    17th Oct 2018
    There always seems to be people staying here these days so I often wonder what it would be like.

    17th Oct 2018
    We have coped well now that our children have all left home. They come back now and then for visits which we enjoy but, so far, none of them wants to return to the family home. I find it interesting that Baby Boomers are the first generation that has made the decision not to leave anything for the next generation. We are prepared to get out and enjoy our freedom in retirement and spend our hard-earned. In our case, we spent a lot of money getting our children educated and ready for employment which has enabled them to stand on their own two feet.
    17th Oct 2018
    I don't agree it is a decision "not to leave anything for the next generation". In our case it is more we earned what we have, we should enjoy what we have saved while we can and our children and grandchildren should be satisifed with what they get from our estate when we pass on. I think a lot of baby boomers feel the same way. I have heard too many stories of gen X and Y just waiting like vultures for their parents and inlaws to kick off so they can enjoy the spoils rather than working up a sweat like the baby boomers did to get what they have.
    17th Oct 2018
    Thanks Gra, you are correct and my post needed the qualification. I suppose what I meant was that we are a generation that is not going without so we can leave something for our children.
    17th Oct 2018
    since when was 1 in 4 41%? Try 25%.
    17th Oct 2018
    I’m not sure the photo is accurate. My friends report that children want to leave all their belongings behind and whenever they move more stuff comes home. And they consider that at any time they can come back home often with partner as well.
    Nan Norma
    17th Oct 2018
    I had one son return some years ago. Stayed two years. It worked out well.he was working and paid board. But he returned again years later for financial reasons and it was a totally different story. I the end had to tell him to leave.
    17th Oct 2018
    Our children did not leave home until they married - which was fine by us.
    They left home at ages, 21, 25 and 32 - although one of our daughters was working overseas for a while - but her home was here whenever she could get back.
    All our kids paid board towards household bills - it is something they and us felt was the right thing to do - and helped them build a sense of
    responsibility and know you do not get things handed on a plate in this life. It all worked well for us all.
    Barbara Mathieson
    17th Oct 2018
    Seniors are “ needed” as volunteers in Oz!
    We save the country $$$$ billions as volunteers!
    18th Oct 2018
    With more of the oldies volunteering where are the jobs for the young? Specially the oldies volunteering in order to get the pension before they are 65? Lots of them here where I live, youngsters are surfing and the oldies volunteering and all on Centrelink. Stupid, really.

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