Dutch parents seem to take care of their kids longer. In 2017, children in the Netherlands continued to live with parents or guardians for an average of up to 23.5 years. Five years earlier that was still 22.8 years.
The figures come from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). Young students in particular are less likely to move out for their studies since student finance was abolished in 2015. Students have to borrow money for their studies and cost of living. This turns out to be an important reason to continue to live with (one of the) parents. So are the rising housing costs in the Netherlands, the average housing price is currently 356.000 euro, which is 11,6% more than in 2020. Nowadays it is also increasingly common to travel after graduating and saving money by living with your parents. We also change jobs more and most young people do not want to commit to something like buying a house. What does this reform mean for the Dutch youngsters’ social development?
Sophie K.* is 24 years old and still lives at home. She, however, doesn’t think living at home at an older age affects her social development much. ‘I feel like my life is not that much different form my peers. The only thing that is different is that my parents check in on me when Igo on a night out and want to know where I am and when I get home, and their parents don’t. But I have a lot of freedom besides that, so it’s not too different. And of course, there is always food in the house, and I don’t have to do my own food shopping, like they do have to. My parents also still pay for some of my clothes and books.’
She continues ‘Besides, my laundry is done for me most of the time and in the evenings, there is food on the table. I can totally concentrate on my studies because of this and have no worries about getting dinner ready or any other chores. My main focus right now is graduating.’
Eveline Kortekaas – a 53-year-old mother of three and graphic designer – is supportive of her children living at home for longer. ‘I don’t mind if our children stay at home longer, I think it’s very pleasant. I enjoy forming a family together for a long time to come. We also have the space and financial resources for this. I think it is wise to start living independently at some point so that they can build their own life. I leave the choice with them for the time being. In any case, they now have the time to save up and think about what they want.’
‘When children move out, they learn to plan their own day and manage their own finances,’ Susan Branje, professor of pedagogy, tells Dutch newspaper Trouw. ‘In addition, they learn to live with roommates who are often different from them and they have to take up household tasks. In this way, young people learn to take more responsibility for their own lives, and thus to build an independent existence. In addition, leaving home creates a radical break in what parents can say about their child’s choices. You also see that girls leave home earlier, probably because they are often raised more protected. If they go on their own, they are allowed to cycle home alone until late, just to give an example. The distance ensures that you make more of your own decisions and it becomes easier for parents to let go of the children.’
Marlou Vermeulen, a pedagogue, agrees with Branje that children learn a lot when moving out.
According to Jiska Peper, a brain scientist, it’s not that odd that youngsters live with their parents longer. ‘The bond between parents and children has become stronger. In the past an authoritarian upbringing was much more common. Young people wanted to escape those pressures. Now parents and children are much more like friends,’ she tells EenVandaag.
Compared to other European countries, Dutch youngsters are somewhere in the middle. Danish youngsters, for example, move out at 21 on average. But in Croatia, 75% of people between 25 and 30 still live at home.
*Name is known to the editors