Student Housing Choices and Aspirations: Private Renting or Ownership? The Case of Tallinn in Post-socialist Estonia

Liis Ojamäe, Katrin Paadam


Gaining housing autonomy in ownership-oriented housing systems has been observed as increasingly difficult for contemporary youth, including university students. This article analyses how students make sense of their experiences in private rentals, which is assumed to shape their dispositions and capacities to act in the housing market in the future. We contribute to the conceptualisation of young people’s housing choices and aspirations by offering evidence from the understudied post-socialist context of Tallinn, Estonia. Inspired by Bourdieu’s theory of practice and combining in-depth interviews with a survey, we show how the student experience in a weakly regulated private rental market supports their selfperception as established ‘players’ in the market, while developing a distinct investmentminded disposition to housing. Furthermore, the high symbolic value of homeownership conveyed by families in a ‘super homeownership’ society has rather strengthened among students, despite restricted opportunities to market entry.


housing aspirations, students, private renting, homeownership, post-socialist

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