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New survey shows that majority of young Europeans want to live in small cities

Wed, 10/13/2021 - 11:00

A new survey commissioned by the engineering and design company AFRY shows that young Europeans prefer to live in small cities with less than 100 000 inhabitants. Only one in ten wants to live in cities with more than 1 million inhabitants and affordable housing is the most important factor when young adults choose where to live in the future.

To understand how the pandemic has affected young people’s views on their future and where to live, AFRY has conducted a survey among 6 000 young adults, aged 18-35, in seven European countries, during August to September 2021. The results suggest that the pandemic has had an effect on young adults preferences, as one in four (24 percent) state that their attitude towards living in a city has changed negatively.

Young Europeans don’t want to live in megacities, instead small and mid-sized cities have a greater appeal. A majority (58 percent) prefer cities with less than 100 000 inhabitants, and one third want to live in communities with no more than 20 000 inhabitants. This is especially true in Austria and Switzerland, while young adults living in the Nordic countries prefer a mid-sized city.

Affordable housing is ranked highest when young Europeans are asked about main factors for choosing where to live. Work, studies and living close to green areas are other identified strong drivers.

The big cities’ housing markets are challenging, and yet again we see that young Europeans want to live in smaller cities, where we know that proximity and access to schools, work, culture and green areas are highly valued”,says Helena Paulsson, VP and Head of BA Architecture and Design at AFRY.

It is clear that sustainability – social, economic and environmental – is important to young people. Not only do they see climate change as the biggest challenge for future cities, almost half of the respondents (47 percent) value that their local decision makers have an ambitious sustainability agenda.

“We need to listen to young people when making decisions that will affect their future. This is a great opportunity to discuss what makes a city attractive for young Europeans to live and reside in. We are situated at the forefront of sustainable urban development, but we always need to keep listening and learning”, says Jonas Gustavsson, President and CEO at AFRY.

The survey was conducted by the research company YouGov between 23 August and 6 September 2021 among young people aged 18 to 35 in seven European countries: Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland and Germany. In total 6,205 took part in the survey. A high-level summary can be found as an attachment.

AFRY is a European leader in engineering, design, and advisory services, with a global reach. We accelerate the transition towards a sustainable society.
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