The Malta Independent 12 July 2024, Friday
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TMID Editorial: Leaving home late

Friday, 8 September 2023, 10:42 Last update: about 11 months ago

A lot can be discussed about Maltese society and the generations being brought up into adulthood today, and there are many and various factors which play into the attitudes of these generations and how they prevail in society.

Maltese society is not unlike societies abroad in the sense that it too has been affected by things such as the rise of social media and a reliance on technology so obsessive that it has come to the point that everyone is plugged in at all times.

But there are particular challenges which Malta faces which do have a significant effect on how the Maltese themselves have developed in terms of their attitude and characters.  One such thing was pointed out by the European Union's statistics agency Eurostat earlier this week.

Eurostat reported that in 2022, young people across the EU left their parental home on average at the age of 26.4 years - but that Malta was one of nine countries where the same average age was over 30 years old (30.1 years is the precise number).

There are no doubt a number of reasons for this.  First and foremost is Malta's size. Whereas in a number of countries on the continent, a large chunk of youths move out of their parents' house at a young age in order to continue their studies at Universities which may be halfway across the country.  In Malta, this reality (unless you're Gozitan) simply doesn't exist.

The second is without a doubt also the situation in the local property market.  Property prices are still on the rise. Renting property is simply unsustainable for anybody wishing to save up: if a Maltese person is initially lucky enough to find a landlord who will rent to them, they must then contend with prices which have continued to become inflated as landlords have realised that they can now rent on a per-bed basis, make more money, and get away with it.

Buying property meanwhile is naturally possible, but doesn't come cheap either.  Purchasing a property on an average single income is next to impossible; and if one does manage to do so, they are beholden to the bank of their choice for the next 40 years. 

So with all this in mind, our youths simply opt to continue living with their parents.  Without wanting to generalise, for many it is a choice born out of economic necessity.

While there is nothing at all wrong with leaving the parental household later, one must question what impact this has on the character of our youths. 

Living alone automatically breeds independence because it ultimately teaches people to fend for themselves.  It teaches them things important for actually living by themselves - thing which you could argue should already be taught in the education system... but we digress. 

It also allows a person to have their own space - a possibility which can also allow for improved mental health.  It's a space which can be a safe space too: let's face it, not every home environment is a healthy one, and people may want to move out as soon as they legally can - something which as things stand is really not easy for the reasons already explained above.

It's really difficult to quantify what effect the fact that people are still, on average, living with their parents at the age of 30 has on Maltese society.  It's certainly not a question which can be easily answered.

Whatever the effect, unfortunately, there is no easy solution to this.  

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