My mother and I have a recurring conversation every month or so.
It’s about home ownership. Or rather, our lack of home ownership. “You really need a third bedroom,” she says, as though reading out a supermarket shopping list rather than adding thousands of pounds to an already unattainable mortgage. “Oh, and a garden. Y’know, for the kids.”
I explain that the house she’s described costs around £300k where we live. It’s usually met with silence.
It’s not just my mother though — every week I seem to read similar articles. From the smoke and mirrors of avocado toast to the ‘you should do it too’ profiling of twenty-year-old homeowners. Perhaps they’re intended to be motivating, but I don’t find them particularly inspiring.
I think these articles are rather dangerous. They imply that we are a generation of cash-splashing work-shy ostriches; we simply do not care enough about the future to invest in bricks and mortar, and worse, we do not care about our children’s futures either. Heck, we can’t even afford to rent a three bedroom house with a garden. What bad parents we are.
If only we cut back our spending on champagne brunches, we could afford a house. How silly we are.
If only we lived on beans and toast for year — just like Jack and Matilda from Preston did — we’d have a 10% deposit and leftover for fees and stamp duty. How shortsighted we are.
When in reality, I don’t know anyone my age who has bought a house without parental (or grandparental) assistance. Whether it’s a lump-sum gift, splitting the mortgage, or living rent-free for a year or two — none of my peers have bought a house in the way these articles tell us we can.
However, the vast majority can only be described as worker bees; they have multiple jobs, they’re undertaking additional studies, they’re putting in overtime to snag a promotion. They are — as my careers advisor at school would have said — ‘furthering themselves’. But can they afford to buy a house unaided? No.
Is that their fault? No.
I’d love to read an article which acknowledge the simple fact; wages are low in comparison to house prices. That’s all.
Not that house prices are too high (although they are). And not that wages are too low (they are, but if house prices were lower we’d certainly feel a lot richer).
Just that on an average UK income (£27k, if you’re wondering) you’ve got a decade or so of saving to buy a house.
Maybe we should all move up North, where house prices are cheaper; a Great Migration of Twenty-Somethings. By moving we can buy in five years, and Valencia-filter avocado toast to our hearts content. Living the millennial dream and judged accordingly. But hey, at least we’re paying a mortgage now.