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We leave home (almost) whenever we want

Moving out and living alone, often, is a dream: the situation in Europe

We leave home (almost) whenever we want Moving out and living alone, often, is a dream: the situation in Europe

Living alone is fun, living alone is challenging, and living alone, in Italy, sometimes feels like an elusive dream. We know we're not in Finland or Sweden, where the average age of achieving independence from the family nucleus is 21.3 and 21.4 years, respectively, but here we are talking 30 years old. In our country, the average age at which young people leave home has slightly decreased in the past year (29.8), but we are still far from the European average, which was 26.2 years before Covid and has risen to 26.5 after the pandemic.

Leaving Home: The Situation in Italy

The point is, it's not easy at all - especially in cities like Milan and Rome - to align rent or a mortgage with the salaries of young professionals, which are often too low. Consequently, the so-called youth has shifted forward: up to 40 years old, we are considered young and inexperienced, but such a label can have multiple disadvantages. For example, it leads to not being taken seriously in the job market. Even when one manages to leave home, they are often forced to share expenses with one or more roommates. And often the situation is less than ideal.

The Blame Lies (Also) with the Italian Education System

Another obstacle to young Italians achieving independence is the approach of the education system towards the world of work. Assuming that in many countries high school and university last four years instead of five, the Italian school system doesn't adequately prepare individuals for what they will face as adults, both disciplinarily and mentally. Schools should help new generations not only develop a social consciousness but also provide basics of financial education to prepare us for the many negotiations we'll be forced to undertake. This is lacking in schools and also in society, where too often talking about money is considered vulgar. Thus, we remain isolated, unaware of how the world works, and in a sense, vulnerable.

Policies for Youth Assistance and the rest of Europe

In this less than ideal scenario, policy choices also play a role, particularly in countries like Italy, leaving the younger population behind. In Europe, the only ones taking longer than us to leave the family home are the Maltese, Croats, and Slovaks (at 30.1, 34, and 31 years old, respectively). This emerges from Eurostat data for 2022. According to Eurostat, men leave home at 27.3 years old, and women at 25.4 years old. This difference has been observed in all countries.

What's important to remember beyond the numbers is that there's no fixed age for doing things. Your timing, if it's yours, is the right one. What matters is that you decide, not society imposing it or preventing it.