Financial and housing pressures taking toll on under 30s, research finds

Youth Council warns of ‘long-term impacts on social cohesion if young people feel increasingly alienated, unsupported and deprived of opportunities’

Under 30s

Just 8 per cent of adults aged under 30 in Ireland are positive about their mental wellbeing, with many expressing concerns about their ability to meet the financial challenges involved in securing their own home or starting a family, according to research published on Tuesday.

A survey of 750 people aged 18 to 30, carried out by Ipsos on behalf of the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI), found a third of respondents rarely or never feel optimistic about their future.

The figure was higher among 27- to 29-year-olds (39 per cent) and young women across the entire age range (38 per cent). Fifty per cent of respondents characterised their mental wellbeing as low.

Asked what the three biggest social or political challenges facing Ireland were, 67 per cent mentioned housing, 62 per cent listed the cost of living and 28 per cent said immigration. Mental health, unemployment and crime were among the other issues commonly cited.


The results highlight the challenges being experienced by huge numbers of young people as they try to move out of their family home at a time of high and increasing rents.

Some 52 per cent of those surveyed still lived with their parents with the proportion higher in rural (62 per cent) than urban areas (49 per cent).

Thirteen per cent of those surveyed owned their own homes, commonly with a mortgage, but some 51 per cent of these respondents had received assistance from their parents when seeking to get on the property ladder.

On average, people aged 18-22 expected to be in a position to buy a home by the time they were 30.4 years, while those in the 27 to 29 bracket believed by 36.9 years was a realistic target.

In terms of their current circumstances, 52 per cent said they were broadly happy with where they were living, but this fell to 43 per cent among women.

Renters were generally more negative than those who lived in their family home or owned their own home, with 39 per cent saying they were happy with the amount of space they had and 50 per cent saying they were satisfied with the quality of their accommodation.

Cost was a major concern, with more than half of those renting or paying a mortgage having experienced an increase in the past 12 months. Many respondents said they have had to cut back on aspects of their spending in order to cope financially.

Among those who do not have children, the average age at which respondents suggested they would like to start a family was 31, but the extent of costs such as accommodation, healthcare and childcare, were widely cited as concerns that might delay this aspiration further.

NYCI chief executive Mary Cunningham said “two critical areas stand out” in the findings, which show “the real struggles faced by young people every day”.

“The economic pessimism reflects deep-seated worries about financial stability and future prospects, while the accommodation crisis paints a picture of lives and aspirations put on hold,” she said.

“The implications of these challenges are profound, affecting young individuals’ day-to-day lives and their capacity for future planning and personal fulfilment. More broadly, they signal potential long-term impacts on social cohesion if young people feel increasingly alienated, unsupported and deprived of opportunities to meet key milestones in their lives.”

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times