For those born in the eighties and nineties, and coming of age in the noughties, otherwise known as millennials, the chance to buy a home of their own is hard won. While their parents enjoyed the boom years of cheap credit, low property prices and high employment rates, millennials have experienced a different time.
To generalise, millennials grew up in the age of the internet, where ITC was taught alongside Maths and English at school and smartphones seem as obvious an invention as the printing press. These twenty and thirty-somethings are the generation who live their lives through social media, use emojis for expressions and conduct their professional affairs at the tap of an app. This being said however, there are two tribes of millennials – the Earlies and the Lates, for want of a better expression, and while only ten years apart in age their experiences of the world, jobs market and housing sector are extreme.
As the government reaffirms its commitment to building and getting first-time buyers (AKA. Millennials) onto the ladder, we get a sneak peek into their views on the housing market. Which one are you dealing with?
Millennial A – The Early
Born in 1980 I can remember the Berlin Wall coming down, the Soul Olympics, the recession of the 1990s and the landslide victory of Labour in 1997 – in fact we were made to watch the Election results as part of our history A level lesson. It was a time of rapid boom and quick bust; but opportunities existed as did optimism.
Today I am a home owner – but whether I’m a first time buyer or second stepper is a hard one to answer. I have owned two properties in my life, but rented between them. Bought with parental assistance and both have come with hard lessons to learn – interest only mortgages and negative equity being the worst. Thankfully the house I’m in, touch wood, should provide enough living space as my children grow. It is a house I love, not ‘perfect’ but one I am very happy with.
This property is based in the Midlands and to afford the mortgage we both need to work. We shop in budget supermarkets, only run one car and generally holiday in the UK. Our life doesn’t contain extravagances and every month the overdraft is hit. Owning a home equals safety and security but the thought we won’t actually ‘own’ it for another 30 years is depressing. There will be no early retirement and I won’t be eligible for my pension until I reach 68.
This all being said – I still hold the optimism of my childhood, as life has provided opportunities and my home a foundation.
Millennial B – The Late
Ahhh, the 90s. You know, for a 90s kid, I really can’t remember much about it. Born in 1992, my only real memory of the decade is getting my first hi-fi system (which happened to double as a karaoke) and my first ever CD (Huge Hits 99, featuring the Lou Bega classic ‘Mambo No. 5).
Now, I do have a terrible memory and unless I’m talking to someone else, I find it hard to bring the 90s nostalgia to the forefront. However, my earliest memory and the way my view has been shaped is probably summed up in one event: September 11th 2001.
I was only nine when the Twin Towers fell, but the decade that preceded that event is responsible for the views of my generation. In my formative years, I knew war, I knew fear and financially, I knew recession.
My first experience of financial responsibility was when I moved out to university. Although I was one of the lucky ones, just escaping the rise of tuition fees from £3,500 a year to £9,500, I had been told that I would always be broke and be in debt for the rest of my life – the trade-off would be a degree that promised nothing but prosperity and success for the future.
The reality that hit 4 years later was that, unfortunately (and despite the weight of debt both to the government and the bank), I would have to start off exactly where everyone else does; at home with my mother, scrimping to save (just a little) to move out and start my life as an adult.
Three and a half years later, I’m still clinging to that dream. Now, it seems like an uphill battle; with rising prices, confusing mortgages and even more confusing deposit sizes, unaffordable rents and the weight of the debt I’m still working to pay off.
Alas, it sounds very ‘woe is me’, but the reality is I’m torn. On the one hand, I know that buying a property is the smart thing to do, especially when thinking about the future (I don’t think I want to be paying rent or a mortgage in my retirement). On the other hand, I have no idea where to start. If I start saving now, chances are I’ll be in my early-mid 30s before I have a decent deposit saved and I’m not sure I’ll want to invest my money in a two-up, two-down terraced (I grew up in these types of houses and I know the true cost of investing in one). I’ll probably want a home that will be fit for purpose for at least 10 years (if not more), especially when you consider that my first home could well need to be a family home.
My aspiration is security. The market has its peaks and troughs and maybe, just maybe, saving a little now may mean I can jump on the ladder at the right time later. But who knows? I may style this out as a true millennial, travelling the globe filling my #Instagram with memories before putting down roots back here in the UK.
Are you a Millennial? Share your experience and join The Conversation.