What is “home” for young Europeans?
Last updated on Tuesday, 20/06/2023
You have probably heard that, "home is not a place, it’s a feeling". However, the latest data on youth and housing conditions from Eurostat - the statistical office of the European Union - may leave young Europeans feeling uneasy about their future. Let's look at the current housing market situation young people face.
What's the situation?
Decent housing is an essential condition towards the fulfilment of one’s life aspirations and allows us to access to social and economic guarantees. However, the latest Eurostat data shows us that the quality of housing for some young Europeans is not meeting this expectation.
The picture could indeed be brighter - unaffordable prices, crowded housing and severe housing deprivations continue to cause issues.
According to the latest data available from 2020, almost 28% of young people (aged 15-29 years) in the EU have been affected by overcrowded accommodation. The figure increased by 1.5% compared to the previous year and it was indeed higher for young people than for the population as a whole.
Skyrocketing housing prices also affect young people, and when they reach or exceed 40% of a household’s disposable income, it is a heavy burden. While the percentage of youth affected by extremely high prices is similar to that affecting the general population, a striking difference exists between young people who are at risk of living in poverty and those who are not. Among those at risk of poverty, 40.8% of youth were impacted by the overburden rate.
While there are differences in the age (2021 average was 26.4 years old) and gender (females leave earlier than their male counterparts) when young people decide to leave their family home and begin their lives independently, the lack of real access to affordable and decent housing threatens young people’s emancipation plans.
Furthermore, the pandemic has worsened young people’s perspectives on housing and employment opportunities. Trapped in a precarious situation, housing insecurity affects young inactive workers and the unemployed.
While unemployment and disproportionate housing prices remain serious issues, there is another phenomenon, which impedes young people’s aspirations for independence. As young people tend to travel to big cities in search of good opportunities for their personal and professional development, they are also competing with the ever-increasing market for short-term rentals for tourism.
Another less obvious consequence is the effect this crisis is having on the cultural sector. Young creators and artists are being pushed out of the cities, due to the constant rise in housing prices. In cities across Europe, then cultural scene is in decline, as artists have no chance of getting the right opportunities.
Eurodesk Brussels Link interviewed Nikolina and Sabri from ESN, who talked about the problems young people face when looking for accommodation and how they can be solved.
What can be done?
While there is no simple or rapid solution to help young people enter the housing market, some commentators are calling for more social housing, that is, housing developed by not-for-profit organisations or governments, and therefore left at a lower price than housing in the private market.
It’s important to ensure that young people have access to a job market where they can develop their potential and make the most of their skills in decent and rewarding working conditions - including, but not limited to, a decent salary as stated in Goal Number 7 of the EU Youth Strategy.
The EU also recently reached a deal on new rules for adequate minimum wages in the EU which hopefully will benefit young people joining the job market and assist them in accessing decent housing. There is still much to do to ensure young people have this accessibility, but the deal reached is a step in the right direction.