I overheard a conversation the other day between a 21 year old man and a 60+ year old man. Unfortunately due to the fact that I was simply eavesdropping, I couldn’t interject, so I decided to write about it.
The 21 year old was telling the older man about the fact that he’s buying a house, to which the older man said ‘Oh good for you. You hear so many young people these days saying they can’t afford things.’
The 21 year old agreed, saying that all he’s done is worked hard, not gone out and eaten meals at home rather than going to restaurants and voila, he’s buying his first home. One of the worst things about this is that the young man really thinks he’s been able to do something that barely any Gen Z/millennials are managing at the moment, simply because of his ‘hard work’ and self sacrifice.
Whilst quietly thinking to myself that I too rarely if ever eat out, worked hard at university to get a 1st class degree and have been working ever since, yet I am still house-less, I also remembered a comic by an Auckland-based illustrator, Toby Morris (below).
This Gen Z is managing to buy a house at his age because he has barely any outgoings due to the fact that he lives at home, with parents that haven’t had to ask for contributions to rent, and are in the position where they can pay all outgoings for his car. This has resulted in him being able to save 80+% of his monthly wage to go directly towards buying this house.
For myself, and the majority of millennials, two thirds of my monthly wage disappears into the ether through annoying outgoings including, but in no way limited to, feeding myself and keeping a roof over my head.
Once I have paid for my bills, gym and phone subscriptions and other such outgoings, I am left with a luxurious third of my wage which is available to be saved and spent as I wish. After saving half of what’s left, I have a wonderful £70 a week until payday. If I want to visit friends or family, I have to travel by train which will usually all but eradicate that week’s budget in one fell swoop. If anything breaks or goes wrong I’m screwed and scraping for the pennies, or having to dip into those house savings to avoid going into debt. All of this just to end up, ideally, at absolute £0 in time for payday or, most probably, slightly into my overdraft.
If I continue in this way, it will take me 6 and a quarter years of ‘working hard and not going out’ to buy myself a house. Oh the joys.
Can I just say that ever being in a position to buy a house means I am also privileged. Simply being able to have gone to uni, despite being among some of the poorest students there, I was still privileged and it opened doors for me to get into the office job that I have at the moment. I am in no way claiming that I do not also benefit from privilege, because I do, in many more ways than I have outlined here.
I’m just taking a moment to lament that I’m in such a different position to someone who at that point in time does not recognise the privileged position he is in to be buying a house now, and that baby boomers judge young people for ‘not being able to afford things’ when they reaped the economic advantage of the time and were able to buy a house with the combined income of less than half of my yearly salary, with none of my qualifications.
The comic below does an amazing job at illustrating the difference of opportunity between Richard and Paula, and Richard’s blindness to the advantages he’s been given in life.