But with the overall unemployment rate now at a eurozone high 22.8 percent, even family support networks are being eroded — as young people find they can rely far less on handouts and shelter from mom and dad.
And with low-paying jobs the norm — often euro1,000 ($1,325) a month or less — college graduates are increasingly moving abroad to do work below their qualifications, for example as bartenders or hotel workers in Germany or Britain.
Last year more people left Spain than came to settle for the first time in a decade. While 418,000 moved to this country, 508,000 departed, the National Statistics Institute reported.
Ibarra of The Spanish Youth Council said his sister, a bank worker, was making euro18,000 ($24,000) a year but moved to Switzerland where she's now getting more than euro60,000 ($80,000) in a new bank job she likes more. Another friend of Ibarra's who worked with computers in Spain is now a bartender in Scotland.
"The feeling is growing in our country that if you want a good life, you have to go away," Ibarra said. "Young adults are leaving for anything, and the typical profile is a professional who can't get anything or can't get what he wants."
Many Spaniards are reminded of the 1940s and 1950s, when men with no opportunities at home left for construction or factory jobs in countries like France, Germany and Switzerland. But the current flight is more worrisome because the nation is bleeding some of its best and brightest.
Spain's phenomenal boom saw a massive increase in Spaniards getting college degrees in the expectation that good times would translate into lucrative opportunities.
The reality turned out to be different, due to the financial crisis and rigid labor structures in which older workers enjoyed generous benefits and were almost impossible to cut loose.
Employers cringed at giving new hires open-ended contracts with the same benefits, so younger workers often ended up with temporary ones, sometimes lasting just a few months. During the growth years, companies rolled these contracts over, but they now let them run out, boosting the ranks of the young unemployed.
Experts say professionally trained young adults are increasingly dumbing down their resumes to apply for jobs as janitors, secretaries and nurses aides.
"They do this because they think if they don't that they'll be turned down because they'll be seen as frustrated and overqualified," said Alex Navas, a sociology professor at the University of Navarra.
Reforms were passed this month that are aimed at slashing the high cost of laying off older and less-productive workers, a move that could open up new opportunities for young people.
But for now, economists predict that joblessness will likely get worse with recession virtually guaranteed and the new labor laws prompting businesses to eliminate more jobs before they start creating new ones.
Eric Lluent, an underemployed freelance journalist in Barcelona, teamed up with a jobless friend to set up blog called "The New Poor" that allows struggling young Spaniards to document their stories.
The only rule is that contributors must submit photos, their names, and tell their stories in the first person.
"If things stay the way they are, we'll all have to emigrate," said one contributor, 29-year-old architect Claudia Freixas.
Lluent, who lives with his parents, himself is gearing up to leave Spain — for Iceland. While that country's economy imploded three years ago, he's betting the tourism business will come back, meaning he might land a job in a restaurant, bar or hotel.
But the 25-year-old Lluent worries that Spain is creating an entire generation that will become alienated from society.
In his own posting, he wrote:
"I'm part of the Lost Generation, those young 20-somethings stuck in the ditch of a society that we increasingly see less as ours and identify more as the enemy."