Four out of five Spaniards aged under 30 are still living with their parents

Unemployment and precarious labor market drives up number of young people unable to leave home

Antonia Laborde

For the first time in 12 years, less than 20% of people aged between 16 and 30 are living outside the family home. In the second quarter of 2016, the figure was 19.6%, a 4.84% increase on the period in 2015, says Spain’s Youth Council. It adds that of those who have managed to leave their parents, only 16.7% are living alone.

Ana Llorente has not been able to leave her parents' home.
Ana Llorente has not been able to leave her parents' home.LUIS SEVILLANO ARRIBAS

Ana Llorente, aged 27, says she has worked in shops, as a waitress, in offices, and is currently employed as an auxiliary in a private clinic. She has a degree in journalism from Madrid’s prestigious Complutense University, but has never earned more than €300 a month. “I never managed to do any internships, and nobody will employ me because you need at least five years’ experience to find a position,” she says, adding that she sends her CV out regularly, “but with no hope” of a reply. Her priority is to leave her parents’ home before finding a job in her field, if she can, although she doesn’t hold out much hope: “In the end, most people give up on working in the area they studied for so that they can leave home,” she says.

The official unemployment rate among the under-30s is 34.4%, but the reality is that only two out of every 10 under-24s is working, and more than 55% of them are on short-term contracts, while 60% are earning less than €1,000 a month.

Spain’s Youth Council says 500,000 young people have left Spain to look for work since 2013

Victor Reloba, of the Youth Council, says that while unemployment has fallen slightly, young people are unable to leave the family home because even if they are in work, they will likely be on zero-hours contracts, short-term contracts, or earning money from a number of different activities. “One in four young people is poor,” he explains.

Most under-30s who have managed to leave home are living in shared accommodation with two or more other people.

José Cuesta, aged 30, moved to Madrid from his native Córdoba in search of work in his field, advertising, and now lives in an apartment in the center of the capital with three other people. “My next step is to find a better-paid job that will allow me to rent somewhere on my own,” he says.

Given that the average monthly salary for under-30s is €890 and a one-bedroom apartment or studio rental is €470 – although there is a significant range in prices from region to region – it is hardly surprising so many young people have to share, says Reloba.

The reality is that only two out of every 10 under-24s is working

Laura Carrasco is aged just 21, and says she is angry. She studied to be a chef but hasn’t been able to find work because employers require three years’ experience. Now she is studying sound and lighting, earning around €200 a month setting up stages for concerts in the meantime. “I can’t ever see myself being able to leave home at this rate,” she says.

Of her 30 or so friends, Laura says only two have stable jobs. “The reality of the world out there is very disheartening when it comes to leaving home. You see older people who have been studying for years and still can’t find a decent job. A lot of people in my circle of friends who are a bit older have had to go abroad to find work. We’re very angry,” she says.

Spain’s Youth Council estimates conservatively that around half-a-million young people have left Spain to look for work abroad in the last two-and-a-half years. “We suspect the number is much greater, because young people tend not to remove themselves from the electoral roll or to register with the authorities in the countries they go to,” says Reloba.

English version by Nick Lyne.

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