Young Australians who fly the family nest are going without food and borrowing money from friends to survive, a University of Melbourne study has determined.

The research, Is Leaving Home a Hardship?, found women had a harder time leaving home than men as they more frequently struggled to pay utility bills and make housing payments because of a shortage of money.

Young women are 7 percent more likely to go without meals and 14 percent more likely to have to ask for financial help a year after leaving home.

But men who left home were more likely to skip meals or eat unhealthy food.

A year after leaving home, young men are 9 percent more likely to go without sufficient meals and 12 percent more likely to have to ask friends or family for financial help than they are two years before leaving home.

The study examined how often recent home leavers (i) struggled to pay utility bills, (ii) had difficulty affording rent, (iii) had to sell items for cash, (iv) went without meals, (v) couldn’t afford proper heating, (vi) had to borrow money from friends, and (vii) approached welfare organisations for support.

Professor David Ribar, a visiting professor at the University’s Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, said the study of more than 2000 young Australians (including more than 800 home leavers) revealed moving out was a struggle.

 “For many young Australians, leaving home leads to severe hardship," Professor Ribar said.

"Independence clearly has a price.”
Interestingly, women in a relationship after leaving home express more financial satisfaction, while women who are full-time students struggle more with money.

The research is based on data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, and is published in the Melbourne Institute’s 2013 Working Paper Series.

Professor David Ribar
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