This paper explores Italian and Spanish migrants’ experiences and imaginaries of home country labour markets as part of their motivations to migrate during the economic crisis. It argues that precarious employment conditions and images of dysfunctional labour markets drive them to leave Italy and Spain. Besides per-sonal experiences also images transmitted through media and informal social net-works play a role. In addition, it sheds light on the perceptions that young Italians and Spaniards have of the Berlin and London labour markets. The findings sug-gest that positive images of the Berlin and London economies, together with a lack of hope for sustainable economic recovery in the country of origin impact migra-tion decisions, and may also encourage migrants who face challenges in the labour market of destination countries to accept poor employment conditions, rather than leave the new society. The analysis is based on 69 in-depth interviews with young Italians and Spaniards, most of whom emigrated after 2008.
Keywords: Intra-EU migration, crisis, Italy, Spain, London, Berlin.