#11 youth
Laura Cwiertnia

Hotel Mum

Spain, Germany, Sweden – where do young people stay the longest at Hotel Mum and why? A European comparison.

In Germany it is considered slightly odd for anyone in their mid-20s to still be living at home with their parents, as Christian Thomas, 25, is well aware. He studies sports science in Cologne and the commute from his parent's front stoop to school is just 20 minutes. Even more importantly, he can live at home for free, a point he repeatedly stresses in conversation with his fellow students. He doesn't want to be thought of as a mama's boy. And Christian Thomas is no exception in Germany where around twenty per cent of all young people his age still live with their parents.

Still, compared to the rest of Europe, young adults in Germany move out at a relatively young age. In Southern and Eastern Europe, for example, they often live at home until ready to start a family of their own. This is according to a study conducted by the German Federal Institute for Population Research. It found that young people in Croatia, Bulgaria and Greece wait the longest to check out of Hotel Mum. More than half of young people there between the ages of 25 and 34 have not yet flown the nest.

"Young people in Croatia, Bulgaria and Greece wait the longest to check out of Hotel Mum. More than half of the young people between the ages of 25 and 34 have not yet flown the nest."

"I still live with my parents although I have a job," reports Maro Tsatsari. She is 24 and works as a freelance pharmacist in Greece. She would like to move out as soon as possible, but has not yet braved the next step because of the current economic crisis. She is too afraid of losing her job and being unable to meet the rent. This is not surprising when you consider that around two-thirds of Greece's youth are currently unemployed.

Around half of all young people over 25 still live with their parents in the other Euro crisis countries as well. "Students generally only consider moving if they can't get to university using public transport," notes Diana Silva from Portugal. She studies medicine in Coimbra and lives with her parents in a suburb of the city. The daily commute is exhausting, especially since she can't simply go home between classes. On the other hand she enjoys the advantages of living with her family: "My parents and my sister give me a lot of emotional support. And I don't need to deal with the bills or the housework.

Issue #11

The situation is very different for young people in Denmark, Sweden and Norway, who move out of their childhood homes earlier than the rest of Europe. Not even ten per cent are still living with their parents by the time they turn 25. In contrast to Germany though, most Scandinavians do not share flats; they live alone or with a partner. Only one aspect is the same throughout Europe: men fly the nest later than women. This is particularly noticeable in Italy, where only 28% of young women and a remarkable 62% of young men over the age of 25 still live at home. But why is the living situation of young people in Northern Europe different from their South European counterparts? Many population researchers attribute the disparity to cultural factors. In the countries further south, family life is more encouraged and celebrated. This might make it more difficult for young people to move out than in individualist Northern Europe.

"Only one aspect is the same throughout Europe: men fly the nest later than women."

Steffen Kröhnert from the Berlin Institute for Population and Development disagrees. He views socio-economic factors as much more important in determining when adult children move out of the family home. "In Scandinavia young people receive a lot more state support. That is not the case in Southern Europe, where there is often no way for young people to move out on their own."

Money is not the only factor though. After all it is more often the children of well-to-do parents who still live at home at the end of their twenties. "There is no flat rental market in Southern Europe like we have here in Germany," according to Kröhnert. In general rooms or flats are only available for lease in large cities. So in Spain, Italy and Portugal in particular, many young adults do not move out until they are able to buy a flat of their own. Stefan Kröhnert is convinced: "the differences within Europe are not because all Italians are mama's boys."

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