Individuals born between 1981-1997, we are the largest generation in the workforce today. As the first true digital generation, we have answers to life’s questions at our fingertips. But, here’s the tragic thing, we’re lonelier and less secure than ever before, despite living in developed urban areas. Surrounded by people, but barely coming up for air.
If we cast our minds back to the baby boomer generation, getting on the property ladder was just inevitable, with the average house coming in at £4,975 in the early 70s. Fast-forward and it’s a different story. It’s hit us Londoners the hardest, with first-time properties now costing more than 13 times the average wage. I’ll let you do the maths on that one, but it isn’t pretty.
Student loans definitely have a part to play in the generational shift. Over 300% more student debt than our parents to be precise. Yikes. Where baby boomers bought property as quickly as they could, it’s just not on the cards for a generation of renters. That’s where the media position us wrong. It’s not because we’re not trying, nor is it because we’re lazy, things just aren’t stacked in our favour and nothing is certain. As the first generation in modern history to end up poorer than our parents, we’re working around the clock to keep everything ticking over.
Thinktank predicts half of us will still be renting in our 40s. Maybe life really does start at 40 in our world. Is that tragic, or just part of our reality? Maybe not setting down roots is a good thing. It allows us to live more fluidly and travel more, but it’s also to thank for sleepless nights and an increasingly anxious population. Hardly surprising as financial worries get top spot for producing the most unrest. Put this hand in hand with the decrease in drinking amongst millennials, stating money worries and high tuition fees as reasons for laying off the booze, and you get a sad depiction of where we’re at. But, in so many ways we’re more ambitious and determined than ever before. It’s amazing what having to fork out half of your salary on rent does for your drive.
Funny claims that have been made to justify millennials failing to get on to the housing ladder, coming at you:
A widespread avocado obsession
Meal deal buying
Flexible working and freelance culture
What none of these ‘observers’ consider are the real obstacles at large. It’s easy to point the finger our way when we’re under a telescope being squawked at. Soaring property prices, standstill salaries and a rocketing cost of living have a lot to answer for. Not to mention cratered occupations, and the fear of AI claiming our 9-5. It’s not all affiliate marketing, Pret regulars and ASOS voucher codes over here, darlings.
It’s real. We’re delaying marriage, buying property and having kids for longer than our predecessors out of obligation.
The pressure is on. Side hustles are rife, impostor syndrome is real and FOMO pressures are leading to a massive increase in quarter-life crises and an alarming rise in mental health issues. One in five of us report suffering with depression in the workplace. But, there is a pinch of good to be taken with that. People are speaking out now more than ever, and we’re gradually removing the long-standing stigma.
With the scariest financial future on our horizon, it’s time to get strapped in and ready for the ride ahead, packed lunch in one hand and KeepCup in the other. It’s not set to get any easier as Brexit nears, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.
We may not have a room of our own à la Virginia Woolf, but we do have bottomless brunches, cronut obsessions and more podcasts than we have hours in the day, so who are the real winners?