Sometimes, as a Millennial, I get really resentful. I get tired of the image of our generation being soft and entitled. I’m tired of being told that we need to just “get on with it”. This idea that we were simply given too many participation ribbons as children.
The fact is that the world has changed in the past decade… And Millennials are the fodder.
Tutitions began to rise and we came out of university with record levels of debt.
Jobs, good and steady jobs, became a thing of the past, replaced by contracts that start and stop, and give very little security.
And, housing, dear God, housing. In the Lower Mainland one can’t win. Renting is too much. Owning is too much. We buy these little places, our small foothold into the market, and then can’t move up.
We put off marriage, babies, as we attempt to get a grip.
Millennials were sold the same picture as previous generations. University degree, good job, house, marriage, kids. Two cars in the driveway and retirement. We are having to adjust our expectations sharply: fair enough.
I don’t want a house with a two car garage and a yard. Frankly, I hate yard work. The problem is that what I want (and what I hear my friends asking for) doesn’t exist. We should be able to find high density family friendly homes. A three bedroom apartment. A co-housing community. A townhouse complex with some grounds space and community gardens. A home built specifically to use space well. A day care that isn’t going to take up the lion’s share of our monthly income. There are parts of the world that do this.
In North America it doesn’t exist. It will. For the generation coming after us.
We’re the fodder in between. We are the transition point.
Many of us are only able to get into this housing market by piggybacking on our parents real estate “wealth”. Their gains in this insane housing market have become our down payments, our ticket in.
What about those whose parents don’t have the ability to help? It’s a systemic issue that excludes more and more people from “getting in”. Hard work is no longer enough.
The argument that one should simply move somewhere less expensive makes me crazy too. We can’t all pack up and leave. What will happen to our communities? Should we leave our aging parents all by themselves? Youth, and families, create vibrancy.
I am 32 years old. I have student loans from 5 years ago that should be paid off in 3 years. I own my apartment. I have a good job, a pension, security. I am very, very lucky.
And yet I lay awake at night wondering how much longer I can put off having a family. (That biological clock gets most insistent as the years slip away). I wonder how I can afford a home that is functional for a family. I am frustrated because, as an older millennial, I know that I am in a much better position than those born after me.
As much as many seem to point the fingers at the generations who’ve come before us… I don’t think that’s healthy. I think that our position is unfortunate. I think that our communities as a whole are suffering. I wish I saw more action to make life here manageable for families.
I have faith that we are moving in a better direction. I think that we are going to figure this out.
I think this is a post about housing. About feeling stuck. About the woman putting her laundry away at 5 am above my head as I stare at the ceiling, praying for those last two hours of sleep. About yearning for a family (and a place to put them). About realizing that I need less than I ever thought I did… But knowing that I’m not quite there.