In Portugal, the home ownership rate among young people has plummeted by 50% over two generations, leaving Portugal’s youngest with little choice but to struggle to find financial independence or leave the country.
Portugal is grappling with a housing crisis so severe that young people are being forced out of the country. With some of the lowest salaries yet highest rent and house prices in the European Union, Portugal’s youngest generation is struggling to see a bright future in the country.
Diana, 31, has been working for more than 10 years and still lives in the home where she grew up with her older brother, aged 39.
“It’s a very weird sensation of ‘you’re no longer a teenager, but you’re not a full-time adult'”, she says.
For those who don’t have the option to live with their parents, like Beatriz, 24, the cost of living is so high that she’s had to leave her studies to work full-time to pay rent.
“I left very young, at a time when what I wanted was to enjoy life, but I had bills to pay,” says Beatriz from her shared flat in one of Lisbon’s suburbs. “It’s unthinkable to live in a room and feel like I’m struggling financially.”
The housing crisis can be traced back to the 2008 financial crisis, when Portugal put foreign investment at the cornerstone of its economic recovery. Since then, a series of “Golden Visa” schemes for foreigners and digital nomads drove up housing prices to the point where they are completely decontextualised from Portuguese income.
Ahead of the March 2023 parliamentary elections, the ENTR team went to Lisbon to talk to young people facing this crisis today.
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