Traditional path on decline as costs force 67% of under 40s to pick between marriage, home and child

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● The cost of following the traditional path of getting married, buying a property and having children soars to more than £360K
● The cost has caused 67% of under 40s to cancel or postpone at least one key milestone
● Close to three in 10 (29%) under 40s have decided to not have children at all due to the cost

The cost of owning a home, getting married and having a family has now reached a hefty £360K1 – the equivalent of almost 11 years’ salary.

New research from financial provider OneFamily reveals that the increasing cost of getting onto the property ladder, getting married and having a family means 67% of under 40s are likely to cancel or postpone at least one of these milestones. The current cost of living crisis, paired with the after-effects of the pandemic on the UK’s economy, could impact this even further.

Costs have increased so much that a typical adult aged 40 or under will now spend twice as much on these life milestones (an increase of 145%) when compared to someone aged 55 or over, who spent an average2 of just £147K when following the same life journey.

These figures point towards a cultural shift, as rising costs lead many young UK adults to postpone or even give up on major life events.

Almost half (43%) of under 40s are choosing to have a child before marriage or before buying a home (44%), while close to three in 10 (29%) have decided to not have children at all due to the cost. Amongst those who have decided to become parents, 43% still find it difficult to afford the costs involved with looking after a child without borrowing money. Data shows that a fifth (20%) have had to ask their family for help with childcare costs.

Currently, only a third (32%) of under 40s have managed to buy a property before reaching the age of 30. Conversely, among those aged 55 plus, almost twice (63%) that proportion were able to buy a home before they reached the same age.

As a result, the dream of owning a property now seems unachievable for many. Among those who are yet to buy a property, six in ten (60%) are worried that they might never be able to do so.

Among younger generations, one in five (21%) under 40s have decided to forgo a wedding so that they can focus on getting onto the property ladder. Yet, two in five (41%) of this age group have still had to ask their family for financial help and compromised on their preferred location (46%) to keep it affordable.

When it comes to setting money aside, almost half save into an easy access savings account (47%) or cash ISA (32%). Fewer savers under 40 have opted to add money to a stocks and shares ISA (21%), which has the potential to see more growth than cash over the long term. Meanwhile, just 15% of under 40s have a lifetime ISA, despite it offering a tax-free 25% government bonus of up to £1,000 on savings each year to put towards a first home.

Paul Bridgewater, Head of Investment at OneFamily, comments on the findings:

“We have noticed a shift in priorities when it comes to the under 40s, who will have undoubtedly felt the impact of the increase in the cost of living along with rising house prices, following the pandemic uncertainty of recent years. Saving for a house deposit whilst renting is hard enough, but with the rate of inflation outstripping interest rates, any money they hold in cash savings is effectively devaluing too.

“However, there are ways to get a helping hand and it’s all about planning ahead. A stocks & shares ISA is a good long-term option, allowing investments to track the country’s prosperity to hopefully beat the impact of inflation in the long run. Even a small monthly contribution will build. For those who are looking to get onto the property ladder, putting money into a lifetime ISA can bring a good return. Savers can invest up to £4,000 a year, whilst also benefiting from the government’s 25% bonus, which means their savings could get an extra boost of up to £1,000 each year.”

Notes to Editors
Unless otherwise stated, all research conducted by Opinium, on behalf of OneFamily, between 22nd – 25th February 2022, among a nationally representative sample of 2,000 UK adults

1. Respondents under 40 were asked to share the cost of buying their first property, getting married/celebrating their relationship and the cost of childcare. This came to a total of £360,543, including property costs (£274,270), wedding (£11,213) and childcare costs (a yearly cost of £4,170 over 18 years = £75,060)
2. According to the most recent December 2021 ONS data, Median weekly pay for full-time employees was £611 in April 2021, the equivalent of £31,772 annually. Based on this, it would take 11.35 years just to earn the £360K cost of a home, marriage, and child.
3. When asked to share the cost of their main life events, people over the age of 55 have mentioned that it came to a total of £147,078, including property costs (£68,785), wedding (£5,847) and childcare costs (a yearly cost of £4,024 over 18 years = £72,446). A difference of 145% compared to the under 40s.