*Warning, I'm going on a bit of a rant here. Possibly with swearing. Soz.
If you follow me on Snapchat or Twitter you might've seen me share an article from the Independent on Monday night, Tuesday morning that got me raging. It popped up on my Facebook newsfeed Monday evening as someone I know had commented on it basically expressing their dislike of the article (in less polite words) and the comment and the headline got me. So I clicked and I read. And then I raged.
If you haven't seen the article you can find it here;
If you haven't read the article, it's essentially the most smug, patronising article I have ever read and it got me pretty fuming. The essence of the post is that there is a housing crisis in the UK (no shit Sherlock) and as twenty somethings, we believe we have the god given RIGHT to a house. To be a homeowner. And thus, with this expectation we have from society to provide us with a home, we are not helping the problem.
Here are a few of my favourite quotes from the article:
'If renting or sharing are “unaffordable”, then you should adjust your lifestyle to match, meaning commuting or living in a cheaper part of the country.'
'Apart, that is, from the bank of Mum and Dad who could engineer a transfer of their unearned housing wealth to the next generation if they wished to do so'
'Brexit, about which younger people often complain, may well be such a trigger, and a “correction” in property values would then draw many more homes into “affordability”. Thus would the “crisis” be solved in a matter of months, if only temporarily. '
'Besides, people usually don’t actually want to rent a council house; they want rent it so they can eventually buy it.'
'Get real. Forget about owning property as of right. Look around you. Get some perspective. Before the last war it was the norm in many families that newlyweds in their twenties would actually live with their parents or in-laws so they could save money and build up a deposit. They would open a building society account to show that they were capable of making sacrifices and could keep up the repayments in good times and bad. Home purchase could arrive in their thirties. No one, to reiterate, had a human right to a 100 per cent mortgage.'
'And, as I say, if you can’t afford to live in London, either renting or buying, then don’t.'
Can I just take the opportunity now to say a massive fuck off?
I don't know a single person in their twenties who thinks they have the 'right' to owning a home. With modern life as it is, with homelessness, with people battling for council accommodation, with the refugee crisis, how anyone in 2016 think they have a RIGHT to a home over someone else is beyond me. And I don't think anyone does.
Written by someone a generation above 'young people' does the author of this have the 'right' to speak for us? To say what we think and to tell us to get down from our high horses and get rid of our sense of entitlement? No, I think he has every bit as much 'right' as we do to owning a home.
If anyone in Britain today believes they have a 'right' to owning a home, I'd hazard a guess it'd be the baby boomers, the generation above us who (quite rightly) would think owning a home was the reward from years of hard slog, of working, of paying taxes and paying into society.
Let's 'get real' here, OWNING a home in Britain isn't easy. How many people do you know who actually own their home in this day and age? Who aren't still paying off massive monthly amounts to banks? I know three and they're all grandparents 70+. As the daughter of a mortgage advisor, I know getting a mortgage, getting one approved and keeping up the repayments isn't easy and not everyone can secure one. I have never for a SECOND thought getting a mortgage, owing a home was my god given right as a UK citizen.
This pompous article is essentially saying if you're complaining about not being able to afford a house, change your circumstances. As someone a year out of university, I think I can confirm that's exactly what millennials are doing.
I couldn't afford to live out when I started a business a year ago, when my boyfriend earns minimum wage as a carer and works a 60 hour week. I swapped living with my parents for living with his.
50% of my friends came home from university and moved straight back in with their families or partners families because they simple couldn't afford to do anything else.
The other 50% moved away and that was for work. They got jobs in their chosen fields, but they weren't home in South Wales. They were in Scotland or the North East or the South Coast or London. Because you're deluded if you think the same kinds of jobs, the same kinds of opportunities are all over the country because they aren't. Is it better to stay at home on the dole or working nights in a pub never able to save up for your own place or is it better to move away for work and hope somewhere has rent you can afford that isn't infested with fleas?
Before the last war it might have been the norm for twenty somethings to live with their parents and open a bank account to save money for a house deposit. Take your rose tinted glasses off and realise that's exactly what young people today are doing too. It is now an expectation that you'll have to move back home. Parents are expecting their graduates home with them in 3 years time when they bundle them off in the car for Freshers' It's the norm, it's what we're all doing and I don't think for a second our sense of self entitlement has us sitting there thinking 'well where's my house then.'
We don't expect to be a homeowner.
We expect to graduate, to find it tough to get a job, we expect to be home for a minimum of 2-3 years, probably more if we're being honest. We expect that we'll have to do years of work before we cant cobble enough money together for a deposit on a help to buy scheme from the government and the banks. We expect we'll be tied to our bank for the next however many years, slowly, and I mean slowly, paying off that mortgage we took out in our thirties. We hope that one day we'll be able to pay it all off but like with student loans, we appreciate the reality of that.
Owning a home is an aspiration for people in their twenties, not a god given right and I think you're deluded if you think anything but that. And I think you're deluded if you think we don't know that.
As for the bank of Mum and Dad bailing us out, distributing the wealth (sorry what??) and helping us out with some money for our first home so we can fly the nest and give them the peace and quiet they hoped they'd have, before we came home with a 2:1 and a lot of crockery in tow? Only someone lucky enough to have parents who can afford to do that would think that's an option for everyone. My parents certainly couldn't afford to give me or my brother anything and I don't know any of my friends whose parents could do it either.
Maybe this article, instead of assuming what a generation thinks, should have been written from the perspective of what society tells twenty somethings about home ownership, and what it can do to change that.
Maybe when universities stop becoming so over saturated with 2:1 degree students with no way of separating one from the other, maybe we'll find it easier to get jobs.
Maybe when graduate jobs don't come with 4823977465 years worth of experience required, maybe we'll be able to get into the careers we were trained for.
Maybe when zero hour contracts are abolished, volunteering for free isn't a thing and interning actually gets you somewhere, maybe we'll be able to start saving for a deposit in our twenties.
Maybe when salaries match the house prices, maybe we'll be able to secure a mortgage we can afford the repayments on.
Maybe when the generation above me and the generation above that stop asking me 'What is it EXACTLY you do for a job then' or when me and my boyfriend are 'settling down' or saying things like 'OH you STILL live with Mum then?', maybe then twenty somethings won't feel the pressure to get out from the family home and get home ownership under their belts.
We are a generation of young people who society tells to go to university, get a graduate job, get married, have 2.4 kids and own a home in the countryside, preferably with a dog and a vegetable plot and then tells us 'we can't have it all'.