Leaving home is not an easy task. Young Europeans leave home when they are about 26 years old, but there are significant differences between countries. While Swedish and Danish youths leave home at 21, Basques have to wait until they are 30, almost a decade later. This is precisely one of the most striking figures taken from a report that the Basque Youth Observatory prepares each year, the ‘Aurrera Begira 2016. Indicators on Youth Expectations’, which aims to uncover the perceptions young Basques have of the present and their expectations for the near future.
This study, conducted in November of 2016 by means of telephone surveys involving a total of 1,512 young people aged 15 to 29 living in the Basque Country, notes that three out of four young people in the said age group want to leave home but are unable to do so. 41.4% of respondents who still live at home believe they are “unlikely” to be able to leave home over the coming year and 34.8% find this possibility “very unlikely”. By province, the young people of Bizkaia have the worst expectations of leaving home – 80% see no chance of becoming independent – followed by those in Alava (75.9%) and the Gipuzkoa (70.3%), despite the fact that almost half of the respondents claim they would really like to leave home. Another worrying statistic is that 10% of those who have already left home say they could be forced to pack up and return to the family residence over the next few months due to economic difficulties.


Young Basque are 30 years of age on average when they leave home

Unemployment, job insecurity, and the high costs involved in renting or buying a house affect these plans and the future of young people. “If leaving home is delayed too much, they take longer to form families, they have fewer children, and the welfare system is undermined. And someone has to pay for a society in which people live longer”, says the director of Youth Affairs of the Basque Government, Jon Redondo. The alarm bells are still ringing because there is no clear indication that the crisis is over and youth unemployment in the Basque Country currently exceeds 28%.

41.4% of young people consider they are “unlikely” to leave home over the next year and 34.8% find it “very unlikely”

However, young Basques are optimistic and ensure that their social and job expectations have improved compared to previous years. Comparing their situation with 2013, they perceive a lower risk of losing their jobs or of job instability, they are more satisfied with their environment and personal situations, their priorities still include health, family and friends, and they believe that their qualifications will allow them to progress in the medium term.

Endangered social system

The director of Youth Affairs of the Basque Government considers it essential to reduce the youth unemployment rate, although he is also calling for better wages and for housing prices to drop further. In February, Lakua launched an affordable rental plan to help young people under the age of 35 to leave home by offering them the chance to share a flat for three years at a price of 125 euros. Up to 70% of young people have to resort to shared housing if they want to have a chance to leave home for the first time. Economists recommend that mortgage or rental costs should not exceed 30% of a person’s wages; however, the truth is that, in the case of young people living in the Basque Country, this figure can reach up to el 62%. In 2008, they had to dedicate 90% of their wages to this purpose. However, in recent years, this percentage has fallen thanks to the fall in housing prices during the crisis.