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Fewer young households in Finland own their homes

Getting a foothold on the property ladder is increasingly out of reach for Finland's under-40s.

keltainen kerrostalo
Millennials who want to live very centrally may be priced out of starter homes. Image: Aleksandr Deriabo / AOP

The share of people under 40 renting rather than owning their home has significantly risen over the past ten years, fresh figures from national number cruncher Statistics Finland on Thursday show.

“The situation doesn’t look good,” Elisa Gebhard, chair of the Finnish National Youth Council Allianssi, which represents more than 100 youth groups, told Yle News.

housing

The share of 30-34 year-olds in owner-occupied homes has fallen by ten percentage points in the past decade from 58 to 48 percent, figures from 2008 and 2018 show. The same drop was also evident among 25-29 year-olds, with 28 percent being homeowners today compared to 37 percent ten years ago.

Dreams of home ownership

“Studies show that young people in Finland still dream of owning their own home. But you need secure employment and significant savings to make it happen,” Gebhard explained.

While young people aren't one homogeneous group, Gebhard said most young adults still want to live in their own homes and work in permanent jobs, but what they get is rentals and fixed-term contracts.

The divide between young and old is raising debate among Finland's political youth groups. To that end, the youth wings of several political parties have suggested cutting pensions in the name of generational equality as young adults worry whether comfortable pensions will be out of their reach as they struggle to find steady jobs and get a foot on the housing ladder.

Location, location, location

But Reijo Heiskanen, a chief economist at OP bank, said young people’s falling home ownership rate reflects the strong pull of downtown areas, a megatrend of sorts.

A few years ago an urban sociology professor said the price of a two-room flat in good condition in the Töölö district of Helsinki for 425,000 euros is roughly the same as a similar-sized apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

“Young adults increasingly want to live in the most central downtown areas, particularly in Helsinki, where small flats fetch very high prices compared to the rest of the country,” Heiskanen said. "Housing statistics show that it’s not just a question of price, as home prices in the capital’s surrounding areas haven’t really increased."

Those who do purchase first homes these days are on average 28.8 years old, which is about a year later than a decade ago.

Across all age groups, home ownership has slightly dwindled since the start of the global financial crisis in 2008, when 66 percent of households lived in their own homes, compared to 63 percent today.

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