As Gen Y has repeatedly been told, get a good job, and you’ll be able to buy a house. Sure. The reality is something entirely different.
There’s a truth universally acknowledged that a Generation Y’er in possession of a worthwhile gripe must be in want of a platform. Whilst true, it is also an enduring part of the problem – the collectively held idea that my generation’s problems are deemed white noise because of their frequency. Yes, we’ve created innovative ways to hear ourselves whinge, but there are times when complaint is entirely justified.
This time last week, we were told that we’d be able to buy a home if we had a job. A sentiment echoed in Malcolm Turnbull’s “Plan B”, which was to get your parents to buy it for you, and Barnaby Joyce’s “Plan C”, the Catch-22 of moving to Tamworth; the Nuevo-government referencing Joe Hockey’s OG statement of “get good job, get good money, get good house”. Conveniently whitewashing over what happened later in the week, the gap between knowledge and understanding is yet to be bridged. The prevailing wind swooping in from Canberra is “Get off your particulars and get to work”, a fact backed up from every member of the generation shared with our elected officials.
Get a job.
Right. There seems to be this misconception that we, an entire generation of kidults, by virtue of spending more time in the nest, are flightless, lame poultry, who should be thrust over the side and then eaten for our own good. Lazy sods. Those who have Gen Y kids, understand. Multiple jobs, multiple degrees, multiple irons in multiple fires, are indeed par for the course. The primary reason why “we don’t stick to things” is that the stability our parents took for granted, and from which they thusly look back down upon us, no longer exists.
The housing system is broken. We pay our way – same tax, same voting rights, same desires. Different outcome. Our proudest achievement in the housing sector is paying off someone else’s investment property. Hoorah.
The primary squabble seems to be “save a deposit for a house”. In layman’s terms, this makes sense:
X amount of money times Y amount of weeks = Z
But much like algebra, the above has no station in actual reality. Here me out. Ever since leaving high school, I worked full time in a rather notable fast food franchise. I rose to store manager. Disco. I had a good job. I was living out of home, supported myself, as the years rolled by. I modestly travelled, I didn’t staple plated gold to my teeth, I kept the outstanding purchases to a minimum. A decade later of hard work, early mornings, late nights, I had a good job which I poured myself into…and I had absolutely nothing to show for it – sans the receipts for the mountain of rent I’d paid, which vaguely figured, totalled almost a boat. Things, of course, had to change. If I was to move on up, I’d have to move on up.
Flash forward to graduation from University, landing a job in my chosen career, and et cetera and hoorah, I had a better job than my good job. Game of life winner be I. I had a job that pays the national average, beep beep! Next stop, home ownership.
Here’s the thing. Try as I may to reach for that annual figure, it simply doesn’t work. I don’t have that much money. Which brings me to the second part of the argument, that we’d be able to save for a deposit if we cut our spending habits. It might have worked in the halcyon days of whenever, but in the brutal housing market, the soaring rent prices – combined with the pesky fact that life tends to get in the way: surprise costs, bills, blah blah – combined with the more existential question of us being able to live our youth in a moderately memorable fashion, all the while wearing the same pair of jeans, and purchasing appliances from the op-shop – we do make sacrifices, but it seems just to maintain the status quo, not break it.
The other generally considered option is to move back home (which, among other things justifies the collective derision) is really only an option for those who can. Those who have the luxury of being able to slide back into childhood rooms (and all that entails), and have Mum wash their shit while Dad rolls his eyes in passive-aggressive waves of having his retirement spoiled by his space intruded by the kids he did the best to impart enough knowledge to survive society. Those who can creep to the magic number in that fashion are the exception, not the rule. The lucky minority. The majority are slowly accepting the fact that we’re never going to escape the rental treadmill, and have to shift locations, uproot and scatter to the winds every twelve months. Conservatively figuring what I need to get there, and the decade ahead of a stale and boring hell I’d rather not dwell too much on, who’s to say what the market looks like then? Here’s what it looks like from 1980-2011.
As Tim Curry said, I weep for the future. Not just for my people, but those who come after us. The housing system is truly broken. We, squirming under the thumbs of baby-boomer derision, pay our way into the same society. Same tax, same voting rights, same desires. Different outcome. If we’re going to stereotype a generation, it should be us hamstrung by circumstance; our proudest achievement in the housing sector is paying off someone else’s investment property.