Vast majority of adults living with parent would prefer to live apart – CSO

Most people living alone report high levels of happiness and security new data shows

The CSO’s first ever Pulse Survey – Life at Home 2021 – gives substantial insights into what this all means in reality. Photograph: iStock

The CSO’s first ever Pulse Survey – Life at Home 2021 – gives substantial insights into what this all means in reality. Photograph: iStock


Irish parents are generally happier to live with their adult children than their children are to live with them, and more content to see them stay, detailed new research into domestic life and living arrangements has found.

According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO) the vast majority of adults (88 per cent) living with a parent said they would prefer to live apart, compared to just half of parents who felt the same.

More than a third of children (38 per cent) would not necessarily miss their parents either, yet 73 per cent of parents would.

Overall, some 57 per cent of those living with a parent enjoy the experience compared to 87 per cent of parents.

Many people in Ireland struggle to save for a place of their own, a problem exacerbated by the housing crisis and by Central Bank limitations on borrowing. Even where people earn good salaries, the financial pressures of paying rent make saving for deposits challenging and the result is often a return to the family home.

The CSO’s first ever Pulse Survey – Life at Home 2021 – gives substantial insights into what this all means in reality. On Tuesday it released its second set of data based on almost 10,500 responses to an online questionnaire.

More than six in ten full-time employed respondents living with parents say they do so mainly for financial reasons. The large majority (83 per cent) contribute to household expenses, compared to 64 per cent of those in part-time employment and 29 per cent of students.

Close-quarter life is bound to take its toll, yet according to the data those living with both parents were more likely to say their relationship has improved since the onset of Covid-19 than gotten worse.

Almost three in ten reported an improvement with their mother, compared to one in four with their father.

Those who live with just one parent were more likely to report a deterioration in the relationship, and slightly more with their fathers than mothers. Just over half of respondents said their parents would not treat them like an adult until they moved out.

Along gender lines, women were more likely to say they often have disagreements with “others in the household”. Almost three in ten said they would disagree about sharing household chores compared with less than two in ten men.

A quarter (24 per cent) regularly disagree about using shared household facilities compared with just 10 per cent of male respondents, while women are also more likely to complain about excess noise.

Sharing accommodation

The study also seeks the views of people sharing accommodation with non-related people. As previously reported, if found the majority (76 per cent) felt they would “never be in a position to own their own place”. Further analysis shows this sentiment to be held by 72 per cent of those in full-time employment and 86 per cent of those who are not.

Men living with only other men are more likely to say they enjoy the company of their housemates than where women are included – at comparable rates of 86 to 72 per cent. The opposite is true of women, although at lower rates of satisfaction – 63 per cent in all female accommodation, against 68 per cent mixed.

Men are less likely to disagree with male only housemates about chores than women, and the same is true when it comes to discussing household expenses, and the use of shared facilities such as the bathroom, cooking area and TV.

Overall about half of respondents living in shared rented accommodation admitted to at least the occasional disagreement with their housemates about sharing household chores. Outside of those, the most common area of friction is having people over to visit.

Living alone

People living alone appear to have mastered domestic bliss – most report high levels of happiness, security and show no great need to open their doors to anyone else.

Data produced by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) online Pulse Survey shows 92 per cent of those living by themselves feel safe and secure.

High numbers also confirm they are happy without a housemate (86 per cent) and have someone to count on in times of serious personal problems (83 per cent). Overall, just one third of respondents said they would prefer to live with others.

There are also relatively low levels of regular financial pressure (30 per cent of respondents ) and loneliness (17 per cent).

And even though women living alone are more likely to report feeling consistently lonely than men, they are in less of a hurry to change their circumstances - according to the data, 37 per cent of men say they would prefer to share their homes compared to 32 per cent of women.

Among those who do admit to feeling in need of company, it is far more common among those who rent. In that cohort, 24 per cent conceded feeling lonely “all or most of the time” compared to just 15 per cent of outright home owners and 11 per cent of those with a mortgage.

Almost half of respondents living alone in rented accommodation (47 per cent) said they are often under financial pressure compared to 22 per cent of those in their home without a mortgage.

Lone parents

Sometimes, however, a little company is a good thing. Almost everyone who lives alone with a dog (98 per cent) said their companion has a positive effect on their mental health and wellbeing, compared to a lesser 88 per cent of people with cats.

The Pulse Survey also looked at the home life experience of loan parents. It found that more than four in ten (41 per cent) feel lonely all or most of the time, a far greater rate than the 17 per cent of those who live alone.

It also appears that domestic circumstances have some bearing on the extent to which single parents feel judged or excluded by others – according to the survey, 58 per cent in rented accommodation report such a feeling compared to 23 per cent who own their own homes without a mortgage.

Overall, almost seven in ten (68 per cent) lone parents said they are often under financial pressure whereas the comparable rate for those living alone is less than half of that (30 per cent).