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Image At what age should you be buying your first home?
Image Robyn Hamilton
Staff Writer

A new consumer survey carried out on behalf of protection specialist Royal London finds that the ideal scenario when it comes to home ownership is to move out when you’re 24 and have your first house bought before you’re 29. But in the current housing climate, are these ages merely aspirational?

Royal London commissioned an iReach survey of 1,000 people throughout the country to ascertain the views of the general public on what’s the right age to move out of home and to take your first step on the property ladder.

The results of the survey found that there is a considerable gap between the ideals and the realities of many young prospective first-time buyers’ expectations. Let’s take a look at the figures:

Attitudes on moving out of the family home

The key results from Royal London’s survey found that:

  • The majority (68%) of respondents believe the ideal age to move out of the family home is under 25 years old
  • Of all respondents, 58% agree that the best age to move out of home was between 20-24 with only 10% agreeing that the best time was 20 years of age or younger.
  • 53% of those aged 18 – 34 saying they believe that you should be between the ages of 20 – 24 when moving out of the family home and this figure rose by 11% to 64% when respondents aged 55 or over were asked the same question.

So, most agree that you should leave the family home before you hit 25, with the results showing that older generations agree even more strongly on this point, which makes sense, given that these respondents are likely the parents and homeowners keen for their young to fly the nest!

However, the actual average age at which young Irish people now leave the family home is just after they turn 26 years of age, according to a 2018 Eurostat study.

Commenting on the findings, Barry McCutcheon, Proposition Lead at Royal London said; “While one might expect people to believe it’s best to fly the nest as soon as possible, the survey reveals a significant shift in attitudes towards the acceptance of moving out of home at a much later age. 30% of those surveyed thought that being between the ages of 25 - 35 is ideal. It’s likely there are several reasons for this; a primary one may be people trying to avoid paying high rents while allowing them to save up a deposit for a mortgage. Certainly, it’s now more acceptable and common than ever to still be living at home at this age, or indeed having to return to the family home after a period of renting.”

Attitudes on buying first homes

Although the average age of a first-time buyer in Ireland rose from 29 to 34 between 2006 and 2016, 50% of those surveyed believe that in an ideal world, one would have purchased their first property well before that. 9% of respondents said the ideal age is between 20 and 24, while 41% said it’s between age 25 and 29.

Survey participants were asked “What do you think is the ideal age to buy your first house?”, the results of which were:

  • More women (86%) than men (75%) believe the ideal age is between 25 – 34 years.
  • More men (13%) than women (6%) think the ideal age of a first-time buyer is between the ages of 20 – 24.
  • More men (10%) than women (6%) think the ideal age of a first-time buyer is between the ages of 35 – 39.
  • The older generation (55+) were more likely to think the ideal age for your first property purchase is in your twenties (61%), whereas just 45% of those between 18 – 34 agree with this.

On these findings, Barry McCutcheon continued; “As the age of first-time buyers in Ireland continues to rise, it would appear that moving out and buying your first property at the most ‘desirable’ age is beyond reach for most people. As society evolves, family situations and living arrangements change.

What would have been once considered the traditional sequence of events, get married, buy a house and then have children, in that order, is becoming less common. A period of renting at some point is usually the case for many individuals nowadays and current house prices and Central Bank lending restrictions mean that, on average, people have to wait well into their thirties before they can afford their first home.”

How do the survey results tally with other statistics?

Royal London’s analysis shows that reports from Census 2016 support the contention that the age at which people move out of the family home is rising, with more young working adults staying at home for a number of reasons.

Let’s take a look:

  • The total number of adults aged 18 and over who are still living at home increased by 19% between 2011 and 2016.
  • The number of working people aged 30 to 34 still living at home saw an even larger increase of 26%, rising from 23,835 in 2011 to 30,137 in 2016.
  • While the rise in employed people cohabiting in their parental home, from 180,703 to 215,088, is partly attributable to the economic recovery and expansion of the workforce, it could also reflect difficulties faced by younger people in finding accommodation in Dublin and other urban centres.
  • 268,944 men and 189,930 women aged 18 and over were living with a parent at the time the census took place in April 2016, a 4.4% increase on 2011. Of these, 215,088 were at work while 66,516 were unemployed and a further 152,269 were students.

Getting on the property ladder

Many economic factors have led to the continued increase in the average age of first time buyers in Ireland, not least the economic crash and consequential new restrictive lending rules and criteria, leading many to wonder if getting on the property ladder is even worth it - especially when average mortgage interest rates in Ireland are significantly higher than our EU counterparts.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom as there are government schemes like the Help To Buy scheme and the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan scheme to help first time buyers get a leg up and mortgage rates - however slowly - have been steadily decreasing over the last few years.

Remember you can compare all types of mortgages rates from all of Ireland’s major mortgage providers on