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Zoomers in exile. Young people’s search for a better place to live

Zoomers in exile. Young people’s search for a better place to live

Image source: © canva
Konrad SiwikKonrad Siwik,02.10.2023 17:30

What do Zoomers think about emigrating from their country? What is the reason some would stay in their homeland? These difficult questions were answered by young people from Poland, Bulgaria and Romania. Their opinions leave no illusions.

You can choose to live in a country where you have to adapt to the existing economic, social and cultural conditions. But you can also give up everything and go abroad in search of a better place to stay. According to the Gi Group's report "Polish labour migrations", nearly 29% of people between the ages of 18 and 24 are planning to live abroad.

The prospect of economic emigration is mostly considered by the young. Every second person who is considering leaving the country is aged between 25 and 44 (52%), and every third is aged 18-24 (30%).

Representatives of Generation Z, with whom we recently spoke, confirm the report's findings.

"I believe that many Generation Z representatives are not only thinking about emigrating from Poland, but are actually doing so. The reasons may be simple: a better life, higher salaries, more liberal laws, curiosity about the world. For me, the only thing that keeps me in Poland are my relatives, if it wasn't for them, I would probably live somewhere where the weather is nice and abortion is legal.," says Weronika.

"I think that many members of Generation Z are willing to leave our country, and this is mainly due to the fact that young people are able to earn more money abroad. The decision to leave their homeland is also caused by the governing party's views, which are often different from those of Gen Z. The arguments to stay in the country that come to mind are family and loved ones, the desire to work and develop in the country of their birth and the chance for a better tomorrow," believes Kuba.

Young Poles consider going abroad

The report also shows that as many as 91% of 18-24 year-olds and 72% of 25-44 year-olds are convinced that they can expect to earn more abroad than in Poland. They are also encouraged to immigrate by a higher standard of living or better social conditions abroad. Gen Z is also more interested in travelling and seeing the world. Every third person surveyed in this group believes that they can hope for greater respect for freedom and civil rights abroad.

"I think a lot of Generation Z people think that leaving Poland is the best way to have a good life, gaining knowledge in prestigious schools, having a well-paid job and just being happy. As they say, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Many young people don't like the government in Poland, they can't afford to buy or even rent a flat, they think education in our country is worthless, and at the same time they think it's much better to live somewhere else. But I think they believe Poland is still their homeland, they have family and friends here, they feel safe and I don't think nothing can equal this feeling," Oliwia comments.

"I would like to drop everything as soon as possible and move to a place where my LGBT+ friends can feel comfortable and not be stifled by the authorities. It is known that many representatives of Generation Z more easily gather the courage to come out of the closet. But in Poland, so far, they can count on neither tolerance nor any support from the government. It also pains me that in Poland social programs are mainly for large families and the elderly. I don't mind, but would like to ask where is the support for young people who study for years and then work, setting their sights on personal development? These are the people who create a prosperous society, but receive nothing in return from the government. The tax exemption until age 26 is one big joke. After all, real working life doesn't begin until after graduating, which usually happens when a person turns 26. The only reason in favour of staying in Poland is family," that's my opinion.

Generation Z in Romania: "There is a lot to change"

Young people in Romania, which, according to the IOM, is among the top 20 countries in the world with the highest immigration rate, have divided opinions about staying in the country. The immigration phenomenon accelerated especially after Romania's joining the European Union. Many of those who have left are young people seeking a better life in Western countries.

Romanian news service PROTV conducted a survey among the local representatives of Generation Z. Among other things, the young were asked whether they plan to leave the country permanently after graduation. Their opinions differ.

"I have thought about it quite seriously, but I only want to experience a different culture for a year or two. I like our country, even if there are many things to change, but we can do something about it," Miruna stated.

"Definitely no. Maybe for my master's degree, a year or two. After all, it's an experience, a cultural exchange and that's what I think about. But I definitely don't think I would separate myself from my family, my friends, everything here. Even if Romania as a country is not necessarily going in the right direction, there are things that keep you here," Anda believes.

On the other hand, there are also people who are just waiting for the opportunity to leave the country permanently.

"I have definitely been thinking about it for a long time. Back in high school I wanted to go abroad to study, but I didn't have the opportunity. I will definitely go and I doubt I will come back here," Roxana says emphatically.

When asked what needs to be improved in Romania for her to change her mind, she pointed out:

"Everything. First of all, we should change ourselves, because there are numerous things to change and we are doing nothing to take action. And I mean everything: public health care to begin with, along with the education system, the economy, salaries etc. First of all, salaries. They are inadequate for the work we do," Roxana explained.

Young Bulgarians prefer to stay in the country

A survey in Bulgaria showed that only 7% of young people aged between 16 and 25 are determined to leave their country forever. On the other hand, as many as 55% of respondents would "under no circumstances" leave their homeland. In contrast, almost 38% of respondents would only do so temporarily - to study or work abroad.

In comparison, 10 years ago the share of young people in the same age group who thought to leave Bulgaria forever was twice as high (14.5%), which shows a permanent trend of changing the attitudes of young people in the country. This is also confirmed by the opinions of young Bulgarians interviewed by the Vbox7 service.

"I have been abroad, but I feel I belong to Bulgaria. I can't say that everything is perfect here, but I see hope for change," one person comments.

"I have family here, I have friends here, I like the place where I grew up - I was born in the city of roses, Kazanlak. I want to live in Bulgaria," says another person.

Firm supporters of the dream of going to study, work and develop in a foreign country list many arguments for leaving Bulgaria. They point those countries are much more developed, have more interesting culture, the mentality of the people and even the food are much more appealing. As for the countries they would like to live in, they mention: France, Germany, Portugal, Spain and even Scandinavian countries such as Norway.

"I have lived in Paris and I imagine living there again. Not in Bulgaria for sure," one person points out.

"Abroad - the world outside is much more developed," adds another.

Among the same group of people, there is also a more flexible type of youth. They believe that if political conditions in the country change, they will stay. However, not everyone agrees that abroad is a financial "haven" with high salaries, suggesting that even in Bulgaria it is possible to earn a lot of money if one has the right skills.

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