Geographies in Depth

When do young Europeans leave home?

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Could where you live determine when you are likely to leave home? Image: REUTERS/Paul Hackett

Adam Jezard
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The age at which you leave home depends a lot on where you live, according to data from the European Union’s statistical arm Eurostat.

In most northern and western EU member states, on average young people left home in their early 20s. But in southern and eastern EU countries, the average age for leaving home was late 20s or early 30s.

However, the path to independence is not straightforward. Young people face a range of challenges that may result in some of them staying longer in the parental home or returning to it, Eurostat said.

Relationships, academic studies, levels of financial independence, labour market conditions, the cost of housing and general living costs are all factors that determine the age at which a young person flies the nest.

Image: Statista/Eurostat

Are you still here?

Between 2006 and 2016, there was a slight decrease in the average age at which young people left the parental home, and more so for men than for women. The average leaving age decreased by 0.5 years for men (from 27.6 years old) and by just 0.1 years for women (from 25.2 years).

Overall, Eurostat said, young women moved out of the parental home earlier than young men, although it noted there were considerable variations in this gender gap.

It noted that, in 2016, young women in Sweden left aged 20.6 on average, while for young men the average age was 20.8. These were the lowest averages for men and for women among all of the EU states and the smallest gender gap.

Image: Eurostat

The gender divide was 0.6 years in Luxembourg and Denmark. It was also less than one year in Estonia and Cyprus.

By contrast, in Croatia, the average age for men leaving the parental home was 33.2 years, the highest among all EU states, while for women it was 29.7 years – a gap of 3.5 years. But even larger gender gaps were observed in Romania (4.5 years) and Bulgaria (4.7 years).

Meanwhile, the oldest average age for women leaving the parental home was in Malta, at 30.6 years. This was the only member state in which on average women over 30 were still living at home.

Croatia, Slovakia and Italy also had a mean leaving age of 30 or above in 2016. Bulgaria, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Slovenia, Romania and Poland were the next highest, with a mean average in the range of 28.0-29.4 years.

By contrast, young people in Sweden, Denmark and Finland left the parental home before the age of 22 on average, while in Estonia, the Netherlands, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Luxembourg the average age for leaving was under 25.

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Related topics:
Geographies in DepthYouth PerspectivesEconomic Growth
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