Two thirds of Belgians live in a home that is larger than needed based on the family size, according to Eurostat, the statistical service of the EU. Belgium is among the top countries in Europe in terms of housing size. Only in Ireland, Cyprus and Malta do people have more room. No less than 67 percent of the Belgian population live in a home that remains under occupied. That is almost twice as much as the European average.
An under-occupied dwelling is a home deemed too large for the needs of the household living in it, in terms of exces rooms and more specifically, bedrooms. The classic cause of under occupation is older individuals or couples remaining in their home after their children have grown up and left. Family breakups can also result in under occupation.
In order to determine whether a home is too large or too small for the family that lives in it, Eurostat uses a complicated formula based on a calculation that every couple or single adult in the house is entitled to one bedroom. This also applies to children over the age of 12 if they are different genders. Children under 12 can stay together in one room, provided there are two boys or two girls until they are 18 years old.
Specifically: a family with father, mother, son of 10 and daughter of 15 is correctly accommodated if the house has four rooms. A living room, a master bedroom and a bedroom for each of the children. If a house has more rooms than the norm, it is considered too spacious, if there are fewer, it is too small.
Eastern Europeans are the worst accommodated. Romania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary have the highest number of families living in crowded conditions, and the lowest number living in under-occupied homes. Countries like Greece and Italy are doing a little better, but still rated among the most cramped.
The major West European countries: Germany, France and Great Britain are in the middle of the bunch. Spain belongs to the group of countries “living large” like the Netherlands, Denmark and Finland.