a collage of a piggy bank saying 'fun fund' with a hand putting coins in, near a house and two parents.
Collage: Cath Virginia / Images: Getty

Young People Are Moving Back in With Their Parents... to Save For Birkins

"Once I’ve bought it it’s mine – you can’t say the same for a mortgage."

“When I tell Hinge dates I’m working towards a Birkin by 30, the reaction goes one of two ways,” says 21-year-old Ellie, who’s chosen not to reveal her surname for privacy reasons, like others in this piece. “It’s either immediate laughter or an impromptu lecture – especially if it comes up that I still live with my parents.” She often wonders what these dates would say if they knew saving for a Birkin was the very reason she moved back home in the first place.


In the UK, 28 per cent of people aged 20-34 live with their parents, according to the Office for National Statistics, and recent U.S. Census data shows that nearly half of 18 to 29-year-olds are still living at home – the highest it's been since 1940. But instead of bunking in with mum and dad to save for traditional milestones like a house deposit or a splashy wedding, Ellie represents a growing wave of Gen Z and young millennials that are flipping the financial script. Some youngsters are setting their sights on more attainable, short-term (some could say short-sighted) luxury goals that would surely horrify fiscally-minded oldies and maybe just about anyone on the property ladder. 

“Before I hit Birkin status, I have a few other short-term savings goals that I’ve set for myself as a sort of training schedule,” says the biomedical science graduate, listing an almost £8,000 Cartier watch and £4,000 vintage Chanel bag as her top priorities. “If I can do those, it’ll make the £13,200 Birkin goal seem more achievable.”

Alright, alright – I can hear your gasp from over here. But is it really a surprise that young people are sacking off long-term savings for instant gratification when owning a home feels about as unattainable as a Virgin Galactic ticket? Along with a four percent interest rate, a deposit is currently at ten-20 percent for a first home in the UK, meaning you’d need to save roughly £20,000 for a £100,000 property. And you don’t need me or Zoopla to tell you that’ll get you about as much as a kitchen sink in most cities.


“Right now buying a Cartier watch is a way more tangible investment because once I’ve bought it it’s mine – you can’t say the same for a mortgage,” Ellie continues. “And unlike a house deposit, you don’t wake up one day with ten years’ worth of savings gone in a moment.”

The recent graduate feels that sometimes “there’s a smugness and this idea that our parents practically lived on wartime rations”. Ellie recognises her method could be perceived as frivolous by people like her parents, but is adamant that the generations are practically incomparable. “They saved for a few years on wages for their house, it wasn’t grit, second jobs and decades of missing out,” she says. “It was the luck of the generational draw.”

Sarah, 22, agrees: “I graduated right in the middle of the pandemic and no one talks about how earth-shattering 2020 was for our generation – especially because on face value we were better off education-wise than our parents.” The Slough-based marketing assistant sees a distinct difference between her friends who, like her, went to university and the ones who stayed living at home and went straight into the workforce, in a bid to save for a house. “This has created a new emotional dilemma,” says Sarah. “Although these young people have achieved less frivolous ‘success’ on the surface, they’re terrified to lose it. It’s almost like you have to choose between being happy or trying to have what our parents had.” 


That’s why Sarah chooses happiness by living at home and spending her hard-earned money on experiences and memories – instead of saving. In the face of a looming recession, she favours “going feral” on great holidays with great food over squirrelling away savings.

A report by consulting firm Morgan Stanley backs up this idea of financial priorities shift in young people – they found record numbers of young adults living at home with their parents are helping drive the boom for luxury goods in the US and UK. Consulting firm Bain & Company agree, predicting “Gen Z’s overall more precocious attitude towards luxury” will help the luxury market be “more resilient to recession than during the 2009 global financial crisis”.

For some young people, this shift towards more tangible and luxury purchase achievements is one that’s directly linked to the generation’s favourite app – TikTok.

“I spend time curating my TikTok saves with locations and hidden eats [non-touristy restaurants] for places I want to visit,” continues Sarah. “My savings pot stands at around £15,000 and I plan to spend it on multiple holidays and experiences. My biggest goal is saving around £11,000 to go to the Maldives.” 

It begs the question: Are sun-soaked holidays, brunch with friends and designer bags, the only antidote to the seemingly continuous bad hand being dealt to young people?


Sarah notes the surging luxurytok content – which has nearly 253 million views on TikTok videos from designer brand unboxing to extravagant first-class holidays – as one of the key drivers for her outlook. 

“It’s so easy to end up with luxurytok videos on your For You page’” explains Sarah. “There’s always a new ‘it bag’ and I’ve made it my goal to start saving for a few designer pieces to take on my trips and pass down to future children.”

 Noel Lietman at Oliver Wyman consulting firm tells VICE that “Gen Z shoppers born before 2010 accounted for about the entire growth of luxury of the market in 2022”. This, he says, is down to a significant shift in the age young people make their first luxury purchase. “Gen Z are now making that first purchase on average at around 15 years old, in comparison to older millennials at 18 and 20,” says Lietman, noting that shopping features on social media accounts have made a direct impact.

Luxurytok aside, for some young people dreamlike getaways are not the only financial perks of moving back home.

“I’ve been working at a grassroots charity level since leaving school and saving with the intention of dedicating my life to trying to give future young people a fighting chance,” explains 26-year-old activist Blessing. So far she’s saved £19,000 by living at home, which she intends to spend on a £3000 electric bike and funding her involvement with climate protests. Some of it is reserved for her “social wellbeing”, though, like the big cycling holiday she’s planning later this year with her girlfriend.

“When you look at the state of the world,” says Blessing, “it seems wild to be hard on myself for not saving for a house that might not even have a planet to stand on.”

It seems that the pursuit of happiness, making memories and living in the post-pandemic moment is what’s driving this new saving curve. And when the cost of living crisis is so dire that one in ten students actually face homelessness due to lack of affordable housing, who can blame the lucky few who manage to get reduced rent and a new designer bag to boot?