‘How can I afford to support myself on my wage?’

«I am 30 years old but I still live with my parents. I studied abroad for some years and I still can’t stand on my own two feet, at least not financially. I work but do not earn enough to maintain my own home. The worst of it is that I have become spoiled. For years now I have had everything served up to me,» said Eva M., describing a situation that is familiar to many other people her age who, either because of years of study, joblessness or a low initial wage, have difficulty in breaking away from the family home. According to the experts, staying with one’s parents as one gets older – albeit a common phenomenon in Greek society – could have repercussions as one grows older. According to the National Statistics Service, the latest population census (2001) found that 68.6 percent of people aged 20-24 lived with their parents, 44.7 percent of those aged 25-29 and 22.1 percent of those aged 30-34. Corresponding percentages are considerably lower in most European Union states, where family bonds are looser and children go their own way at younger ages. Also important is the fact that while the cost of living and rents in Greece are the same or higher than in other EU states, wages are much lower, so it is easier for young people in other countries to set up their own homes. Rodia M., 28, who is a biologist, told Kathimerini that after many years of studying in Britain, she returned to Greece two years ago and lives with her parents. «After looking for months, I finally found a job related to my studies. Although I don’t have any problems at home, I would like to live on my own. But at the moment that is impossible. Even though I have a degree, my salary is just above the basic wage and rents, even for studio apartments, are very high. On the other hand, my fellow students in Britain are already living on their own and managing quite well,» she said. Difficult but preferable Nikos S., 29, has lived on his own for the past two months. «It was time. Although I was under no pressure from my parents, I couldn’t do the things I wanted. It’s different when you have your own space, you can invite a couple of friends over, or leave your things lying around without bothering anyone. Now things are more difficult for me, since I have to clean up, wash, cook and so on, but I like it.» Of course living with one’s parents after reaching adulthood is not necessarily problematic, nor does leaving the parental home always mean that one has cut the umbilical cord. «Achieving independence from one’s family begins in the pre-adolescent stage,» Stavroula Kominakou, a clinical psychologist, told Kathimerini. It is then, she said, that parents should trust their children to grow up, to begin to decide for themselves and to acquire autonomy. «That will help the child acquire the necessary self-confidence and self-esteem in this life, whether they live with their parents or alone, that will be their safety net in avoiding any future problems,» she said.