Excessive demands and high rental prices are some of the reasons young adults struggle to become independent. But there is also the family context of Chileans, where parents tend to be flexible and “delay” the departure of their children.
His father didn’t want him to leave home, but he knew it was time. . Christian Cuevas was 29 years old, in a stable relationship and the house where he grew up in Maipú had already become small and somewhat uncomfortable.
For all the love and gratitude he had for his family, he needed his own space, his privacy, and to build his home from scratch.
But when he made the decision, he found a scenario real estate hostile : to rent an apartment, you had to prove a salary three times higher than the month’s rent, a month’s guarantee, half a month’s brokerage, an acceptable DICOM score, six or twelve payments salaries, a permanent contract and a guarantee in accordance with everything said above.
“They literally ask you for almost a million and a half, or even two million at once, which can be more depending on the municipality you choose,” says Christian. The third .
The young man was determined to leave home, so He used the money he saved after making his 10% withdrawal from AFP in 2021 . Otherwise, he would not have been able to meet the “impossible” requirements of the lease and become independent.
How unemployment makes it difficult for young people to leave home
“The most important reason could be related to not being able to find stable employment” begins to explain L.T. sociologist and researcher Signal Center of the University of the Andes , Consuelo Araos Bralic .
The expert assures that in Chile there is a growing unemployment rate, which has worsened with the pandemic, and that This means that young people, men and women, have difficulty finding a job, staying there and planning to meet the long list of requirements when renting.
This, in a context where the prices of houses and apartments for rent have skyrocketed. According to a study by the real estate agency Humou , The current average rent in the metro area is $501,160, while the minimum wage is $460,000.
According to Araos, it is a “very restrictive” market that transversally affects young people from low, middle and high socio-economic sectors.
This is what happened to Nolasco Muñoz (34), originally from Quilpué. At the age of 24, he already had a son with his current partner, but each lived with his family. He studied during the day and worked at night, he earned minimum wage and, between the baby’s expenses and his own, The dream of leaving home was impossible.
But, in addition to wanting to live with his partner and have more privacy, Nolasco was looking to escape from this place which, although he called him “home”, did not welcome him in any way.
He had a stepfather who he didn’t get along with. Every day he thought he had to leave there, but lack of money was his main obstacle.
“I couldn’t wait to get away, I thought I would never be happy there. My partner supported me, he told me “something better will come out for us”. Having someone who supports you and a son who needs you a lot, that encouraged me and I said to myself ‘I’m going to realize my dream, I’m going to leave here and I’m going to be calm, with my family’ “ be sincere.
After graduating as a business administrator, a stroke of luck knocked at his door and he was able to find a job in the mining sector. Thanks to the savings made over several years of work, he was finally able to meet the high rental requirements and found, with his partner and son, the peace they so desired.
How family culture in Chile influences the decision to leave home
Researcher Araos mentions that In Chile there is a family culture where, in general, the motivation of young Chilean adults is not as strong like in other countries, like in Europe.
There is a desire among Chilean parents to “delay the time their children leave and make a much smoother and slower transition to independence.”
Furthermore, he adds that although independence used to occur when a person married and started a family, it is a reality that has changed greatly over time. Young people prefer to live a period of celibacy after their studies or no longer want to get married.
This is reflected in the fact that More and more Chileans over 31 live with their parents. At least in 2015, thanks to research from Center for Surveys and Longitudinal Studies of the Catholic University In the country, more than 900,000 people have been registered in this situation.
Although in this country, as in any other, there is a range of different family dynamics – functional or dysfunctional – In general, family closeness is an aspect of life that Chileans place a high value on.
“In Chile, there is this appreciation or family relationship that happens much more, of face-to-face proximity, of physical presence,” Araos explains.
For example, Christian, after finding an apartment and using his 10% retirement reserve, chose to stay in the same town where his parents live to be closer. While Nolasco decided to rent three blocks to his partner’s family so that they could continue to share moments together.
For that, Beyond the financial aspect, it can also be emotionally difficult to separate from your parents.
Eugenio Contreras is a 32-year-old Chilean. that once he finished his studies, it was not difficult for him to find work and earn a salary that would allow him to leave home. But His emotions were his biggest obstacle.
During his first professional experience, he continued to live with his parents in the town of La Florida. – which allowed him to save money, by not having to spend on rent. He helped with household chores and, as he tells it L.T. had a very close bond with his mother.
Then he was bitten by the “bug” of wanting to study in Japan, so He goes to live in an apartment in Tokyo, far from his family. “I felt sad, I was filled with a sense of guilt, of leaving my family, especially my mother.”
The first months were a “honeymoon”, but the feeling of nostalgia and spending important dates completely alone, like Christmas, took over and, Aware that his mental health is deteriorating, he decides to return home.
At the same time as the start of a therapeutic process which allowed him to improve, Eugenio rented an apartment a few towns away from his childhood home, but even being much closer to his parents, he still missed them.
“I once arrived at the apartment after a weekend visit and felt so sorry that I went home. “My mother asked me what I was doing there, I got out of the car, hugged her and started crying.” said the young man.
What is reversibility in independence
“I think if I broke up with my boyfriend, I would go home. “I don’t know if I would like to live completely alone.” says Mariana Levy, a 25-year-old journalist who rents an apartment with her partner in the town of Las Condes.
She moved in with him at the beginning of the year, when she found a job with a stable salary. NOW, Expenses are halved, which allows him to have a certain independence, since he spends less than half of his salary on housing and food.
However, according toconsiders himself a very “family” person, so it was difficult for him to leave his father and brother, with whom he was previously at home all day.
“There is something I call reversibility in independence. That’s to say, young people who go to live with a friend or form a couple and go together for a while to share expenses, but if they separate, they immediately return to their parents” explains sociologist Uandes.
Furthermore, the expert adds that “Everything is linked to everything, because the fact of entering into a stable relationship or not also has an economic correlation. Finally, to be able to pay what a rental costs, it is much simpler to do it between two or more people.
However, unlike what happens in other countries, Chilean parents are generally willing to have their children back.
From this perspective, for the sociologist, the fact that children live with their parents has positive effects, such as the ability to “cushion” economic or health crises. In addition, staying with your parents can be a “tool” for your children to have more solid savings before becoming permanently independent.
But When tensions begin to exist, such as lack of privacy, poor coexistence or, if you have children, the impossibility of educating them without the intervention of someone else, the negative effects can be decisive.
“In general, the effects go in two directions. For thatpolicies should move in this direction: providing opportunities so that young people can benefit, for example, from housing subsidies and finding progressive solutions which ultimately allow more stable independence.” concludes the expert.