A recent ANU study revealed that over 86% of those polled were concerned that they’d never be able to buy a house in the current climate. Frankly, I’m not one of them.
Upon my tombstone carve the words: Here lies a millennial that never owned a house, but was fine with it.
A recent video from noted Parliamentarian/memelord Sam Dastyari prodded me to write this.
It’s not that I don’t want to spend $1,000 p/w to own a mole in the armpit of Sydney. I could, but it’s all about value. And on that basis, I choose to be a Gypsy doomed to shuffle whitegoods around more impressive suburbs, one bus from my workplace. Financial strife is the constant, but location, as in real estate, is the key. You choose the location, the squeeze remains the same. Therefore, I can cripple myself financially for something more real than the “Australian Dream”. I contend that the real “AD” is getting something you perceive as a bargain, and investing your income on character-building events, safe in the knowledge that “we’ll all be dead soon, so fuck it, may as well garn it”.
Yes, I’m giving my money to someone else to pay off their mortgage. Cool. But the lasting equation is this: what I can get renting versus what I can afford to buy in Sydney are at such odds, I’m not bothering. The only thing you have to live with is the societal shame of being a “failure” (and moving day), and beyond the mountain of thumbs on your “We bought it” Facebook post, or the glowing eyes of your older relatives at Christmas when they shake your bloody hand, you legend, I don’t think it makes that much difference.
I’ve come to accept the transience as the steady, where every twelve months the coffee shops and bus routes change whilst fundamentally I do not. I do this, because I know nothing else. Now, you could say that this mode of thinking is a product of my environment; you could say “deadbeat” and be correct, however, a life spent in the rental realm is a challenge the generation after mine will see as the accepted norm, so if anything, I’ve blazed a trail with apathy.
You could also say that I learned by example, as home ownership in my family skipped a generation. My grandparents owned their house, and still do, whereas my parents didn’t. I’m sure that rolling out the deliberately offensive welcome mat at a permanent location was on their minds, however, the primary lesson I learned from them was that shit happens – and through that shit, you make do. As they earned their title in their late teens to have me, circumstance continued to march against them; further chances of ownership reduced by life’s accidents. Unemployment, divorce and ultimately, early death.
As a result, I spent most of my childhood shifting around the map, yet when I visited the houses of my friends, the same sensory kicks of home felt the same. Their lives didn’t seem that much different, except they could blu-tack their walls whereas mine were always changing, and one day, it would be time to pack the boxes once more. I don’t look back on it negatively. I don’t feel like I’ve missed out. We did what I do now: stay in the same area, and just relocate around. One street, twelve streets. It didn’t matter. I didn’t get to know my neighbours, but I feel the communal barbecue, street party and/or game of cul-de-sac cricket only exists as a device to flog insurance.
— ANU Media (@ANUmedia) May 6, 2017
The memories I’m left with are of the seventeen bedrooms of my youth. The edges are blur, and the events wander freely around the timeline, and when I travel to the many suburbs I’ve lived in, there’s the same vague guttural pang of home, something I feel many times over, the streets still paved with the golden stroke of impetuous youth and romantic mistakes, there’s just more of them.
Therefore, I don’t consider myself a victim. Especially seeing as I’ve followed the paths of my parents, and missed my window; as I was beset, as they were, by the wrong moves. I’ve changed degree, changed partner, changed flights, changed dinner plans. The beauty of this lifestyle, and indeed life itself, is that I have the freedom to change when it stops working…which, fundamentally, should be what life is in a country that grants us the luck to do so.
I’m under no delusions. I don’t see myself as Realtor Jesus, a learned man who has figured the system. I’d be closer to those transients who silently shout political messages on cardboard placards that double as a jacket. But what I do have, is the ability to be flexible. After all, who’s to say this career or relationship I have now will or won’t pan out the way it should? This freedom of change, in being able to seek happiness in forms anew, seems a lot to be giving up for a mortgage in Northmead.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an rental inspection to prepare for.