The average age at which Belgian young people start standing on their own two feet has increased by more than half a year in 2021. According to experts, this is the result of the corona pandemic, the exploded real estate market and the more expensive life. “And so many young people opt for the combination of working and living at home, in order to be able to save.”
Today at 03:00
“Who will stand on their own two feet for the first time in unstable times like a pandemic when it is so safe at Hotel Mama?” Family sociologist Dimitri Mortelmans (UAntwerp) is not surprised that the average age at which Belgian young people leave the parental home has risen sharply in 2021. In 2012, the average age was just under 25 years old, over the years it steadily increased to 25.5 years in 2020. But in 2021 the average suddenly rose to more than 26 years. And corona is a big part of that, says Mortelmans. “For example, I think there were quite a few singles who were afraid of falling alone if a total lockdown was declared again.”
Increased financial insecurity also keeps young people at home longer. “Rental prices have skyrocketed, as have prices on the real estate market,” says sociologist Ignace Glorieux (VUB). “Many young people who have just graduated look up to costs that they cannot afford. So they opt for the combination of working and still living at home, in order to set aside the necessary savings.”
Sweden already at 19 years old
Family sociologist Dimitri Mortelmans dares to make few predictions about the coming years. “The average age cannot continue to rise – people don’t want to live at home forever, of course. Therefore, I expect a stabilization. Perhaps even catching up: if everyone who has postponed their move suddenly leaves the nest. But we are now also confronted with unprecedented inflation, sky-high energy bills and prices that are skyrocketing in all areas. So perhaps young people will postpone catching up for a few more years.”
At 26.2 years old, Belgian young people start living independently slightly faster than the European average (26.5 years). In Sweden the parental nest is abandoned the fastest: on average at 19 years. In Portugal they stay until they are 33. This is not only due to the cultural differences between European countries, but also to the challenges those countries face.