There are so many negative stereotypes about Millennials, some of them for good reason. I am Millennial, albeit on the older end of this generation, but I am so fucking sick of people around my age complaining that they will never be able to afford to buy a house. There are very few people who I empathize with when they make this absurd claim, let me tell you why….
I live in one of the most expensive cities in the world, according to this article, and not one of the fringe cities that sometimes makes it onto the list. Yet, I bought my first condo when I was 22 and my husband and I bought a house when we were 27. How? Well, we both owned condos so selling those was a pretty good down payment for the house. On top of that we both had some savings, because neither of us has traveled extensively. Plus, our house had a rental suite which we have been renting out since we moved in for some extra help.
I am not making the argument that housing is a reasonable price. It’s not, at least not where I live, and the same is true in a lot of major metropolitan areas. But let’s break down this ridiculous article that it is impossible for a Millennial to purchase property.
I didn’t get bitten by the travel bug when I was younger (now, I look forward to the house being paid off, and the kiddo being older so we can travel), but I know a lot of people who spent tens of thousands of dollars traveling the world for a year or more.
You know what that money would have been good for? A down payment.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The life experience one gets from traveling can be priceless, and perhaps, important to character and personal growth, but you don’t get to complain about not being able to buy a place after spending $100k traveling the world.
I feel a bit guilty commenting on this considering that I have never rented; I lived at home until I bought my condo at 22. I know this isn’t an option for everyone, for a multitude of reasons, but the standard that a lot of (young) people have for rental housing seems astronomical.
While I was in my 20’s, most of my friends that rented an apartment spent almost half of their money every month on rent. Well, of course that would make it nearly impossible to save for a down payment you say! But… these apartments were beautiful; one bedroom, one bath, granite countertops, hardwood floors, outdoor space, in-suite laundry, pool and fitness room in the building, etc.
What happened to having a small, dark two-bedroom basement suite with a roommate for a couple of years in order to save up? (This comes from a girlfriend of mine who lived like this for 5 years and managed to buy her own condo, then townhouse, then house). Or what about a studio apartment if you want to live alone. It obviously isn’t ideal, but it would be a great way to cut living expenses.
I’ll be the first to admit, public transportation where I live is mediocre at best, but it is manageable. But so many people snub the bus and insist of having a vehicle, fair enough, I was one of those people! But… the type of vehicle is important here. I don’t know a lot of people driving old beater cars on their last breath. No, most people my age insist on buying something brand new, and not something small and economical, no that would be silly! Most people have SUVs or trucks, with large monthly payments and huge insurance cost.
We are fed media that stresses the importance of “getting out on the town!” Even amid this pandemic there is so much emphasis on opening the economy, restaurants, breweries, bars, so that people can be out supporting local business. Which is great, it is…. but for Millennials, we see it as an integral part of life. Going for dinner, going for drinks, daily Starbucks, but these things add up to a ridiculous amount of money every year.
I am not suggesting that people shouldn’t enjoy life, but just take a look at how much these activities are costing and see if you can save a few bucks every week. It will add up quick.
Well, our parents were able to afford a place when they were our age.
It’s true! And it probably only cost them like $80k for a whole house! But they were paying interest out the wazoo, 16% or more. While means that $80k at 16% is roughly equivalent to $200k at 2.5%, and that doesn’t even account for inflation. So yes, the numbers definitely say that housing is more expensive now than it was a generation ago, but not as much as some people complain that it is.
Furthermore, how many of our parents spent time traveling? I know mine didn’t, the same is true for most of my friends parents (the one friend I have whose parents did travel, well, both of them worked in the travel industry).
We are the generation that was told we could be anything we wanted to be, and that we should enjoy our work. I agree, but this comes at a cost. Generally, changing careers requires a pay-cut, or a very least a stall in earning potential.
Again, our parents generation often started a job in their 20s and stuck it out until retirement. This means that anyone with any work ethic and modicum of intelligence was able to work their way up the corporate ladder and increase their earning potential. Of course, this also resulted in a lot of depression and people that hated their jobs so I don’t actually think this is a great thing, but it is something that contributed to the increased buying power of the older generation.
So yes, our parents were able to afford a house at a young age, but so many of them were stuck in careers they hated and they never got a chance to see the world. The average Millennial that complains about not being able to afford a house doesn’t want to sacrifice anything, they want to be able to spend the money on travel, a nice rental apartment, a new car, a social life, etc. AND they want to be able to buy a house…. seems a little unrealistic doesn’t it?
I’ll admit that I am lucky. Maybe I see this whole thing from a different light because I am not struggling… but personally, I just don’t think that the average person gets to have it all without any sacrifice. My sacrifice was easy, I didn’t spend money on travel because it didn’t interest me, and I found a job at 21 that I love and can’t imagine ever leaving.