One in five Zillennials give up on life milestones due to rising living costs

Tuesday 22nd August 2023

One in Five Zillennials give up on life milestones due to rising living costs

  • Over one in five of 25–34-year-olds believe starting a family, getting married or owning property is unattainable
  • By the age of 30, most Brits consider they should be earning the average wage, however almost one in five (18%)of 25-34-year-olds have given up on this milestone altogether
  • Nearly one in five of 18–24-year-olds who have not hit some milestones don’t feel on track to leave their parents’ home

Over one in five young people in the UK have given up on achieving major life goals due to the rising cost of living. Mounting financial pressures are causing many Britons aged 18-34 to give up hope of getting married, starting a family, and buying their first property.

With inflation running at 6.8%1 and interest rates at a 15-year high2, research by Novuna Personal Finance reveals that a Zillennial generation has written off-key life milestones as unachievable. Nearly a quarter (23%) of 24–34-year-olds have abandoned hope of getting on the property ladder altogether, while the proportion who have given up on marriage and starting a family is at a staggering 18% and 21% respectively. Retirement also feels like a pipedream for many Brits, 14% of all Brits have given up on this dream altogether, rising to 17% in 25-34-year-olds.

According to the research, affordability and the rising cost of living were cited as the most common reason for feeling behind on a range of milestones. More than three-quarters (78%) gave it as the primary reason for not getting onto the housing ladder, while 72% said due to rising cost of living they simply couldn’t afford to move out of their parent’s house. Additionally, when it comes to getting married and starting a family, the cost of living and personal financial circumstances are the main reasons for feeling behind, especially for 18–34-year-olds. 41% of the younger generation citied their financial situation as the reason they have yet to get married and 43% cited the same reason for why they have put off having a family.

Stagnating wages have bred a sense of pessimism amongst young people. The research reveals that Brits target 30 as the age to earn more than the national average. For those that haven’t achieved the milestone, 22% of Brits have given up on earning the average wage altogether.

First full-time job by 21, engaged by 30

The study also uncovered when people expect to reach a range of other key life milestones. By the age of 21, Brits believe they should have already fallen in love, passed their driving test, gone on their first holiday without their parents and secured their first full time job.

As we reach the big Three-O, Novuna research reveals that the British public believes they should be earning at least the average wage (29 years old) and be engaged (29 years old). That’s if they can get over the first hurdle of independence, moving out of their parent’s house, which should be achieved by the age of 25.

The start of the third decade of life, should involve buying a property, getting married and starting a family. All of which should be achieved by the age of 31, according to the research.

When should we achieve major life milestones?


Age Brits feel it should be achieved

Fall in love for the first time


Pass driving test


First holiday without parents


First full-time job


Complete education


Get first car


Leave parents’ home


Get engaged


Earn the average wage


Buy first property


Get married


Start a family




It is harder than ever for the younger generation to achieve these milestones compared to the generations before them. On average over 55-year-olds were engaged by 24 and had bought their first property at 28. Whereas, over half of 25–34-year-olds have yet to get engaged (53%) or buy their first property (51%).

Theresa Lindsay, Marketing Director at Novuna says: “From salary expectations, to starting a family, our research highlights the gap between what we feel we should achieve by a certain age and the reality.

“What’s staggering is the high percentage of 18–35-year-olds abandoning hope of ever achieving some of life’s key milestones.  Property prices, slow wage growth and the cost of living have dented the confidence of this generation, coming after a succession of crisis that have already disrupted key moments in their life, causing a level of pessimism not seen elsewhere.” 


Notes to Editors 

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from a YouGov survey. Total sample size was 2076 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 27th - 28th July 2023.  The survey was carried out online and analyzed independently by Novuna. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

  1. Source: ONS Inflation and price indices - Office for National Statistics (
  2. Source: Bank of England Interest rates and Bank Rate | Bank of England
  3. Source: Median average UK salary (£31,772), ONS, August 2022
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