Direct Line magazine

Reasons why we're hitting milestones later in life

Updated on: 18 March 2020

an elderly couple walk their dog in a park

Rising property prices, dwindling job security and stagnating wages have all made life a little harder for anyone born after the 1960s.

The upshot is, where our parents might have started a family in their early 20s and been on their second home by their 30s, we’re now hitting these major milestones much later in life.

It might not seem like a huge deal, but this shift has some serious implications for the future.

1. We’re having children later

According to the Office of National Statistics, the average age of first time mothers is now 30 years - the oldest it has been since records began.

It’s not hard to see why. Many women are focusing on establishing a career before they think of a family. And couples are often putting off having kids until they feel financially stable, something that is happening much later for younger generations.

Although these are solid reasons to delay having a family, it’s worth noting that the average age that children leave home is now close to 27. This is expected to only increase in the coming decades, meaning today’s (slightly older) parents could find themselves still supporting their children as they themselves reach retirement age.

2. We’re taking longer to get on the property ladder

Gone are the days where people bought their first house in their mid-20s.

This 1950s dream died quite a long time ago, as people are struggling to meet the requirements to secure a mortgage. And while the average age of first time buyers is 43, there is substantial regional variation.

As house prices have soared, and the need for larger deposits increased, those on average and low incomes are finding they’re trapped in rented accommodation. Even those who earn higher wages can find it hard to scrape together a deposit without financial help from their family.

3. We’re taking out longer-term mortgages

The standard mortgage term in the UK used to be 25 years. So for Baby Boomers who might have purchased their first home in their 20s and then upgraded to their second home a few years later, it was conceivable to be mortgage-free well before retirement.

But research from the Council of Mortgage Lenders has found that one in three people are now taking out mortgages for longer than 25 years.

Longer-term mortgages reduce monthly repayments, but increase the total paid back. But for those on stagnant wages, balancing the monthly outgoings is deemed more important than how much they have to pay over the total term of the mortgage.

So what does all this mean?

It means a lot of people are going to have more responsibilities and financial obligations much later in life.

Careful planning and preparations, like having adequate life insurance to cover mortgages and support dependents, will be even more important.

And while many might have looked at their 60s as a time to start winding down and enjoy retirement, it’s unlikely that a 43-year-old first time buyer with a 30 year mortgage and children who are still living at home in their 30s will be quite as footloose and fancy free as they might have liked.

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