‘Owning Is a Pain in the ***’: Testimonies From the Cheapest Generation - Derek Thompson - the Atlantic
Why aren’t young people buying cars and houses? Is it just the terrible economy, or are we seeing the beginning of a more fundamental shift toward public transit, car-sharing, and denser living, with longer-lasting consequences for businesses and families? That’s the question Jordan Weissmann and I asked in our business column in this month’s magazine.
Read the column here. Join the debate here: “Why Aren’t Twentysomethings Buying Cars or Houses?” Read our most angry and articulate critics here. Read our most assenting commenters extoll “the freedom of not owning” here. And here are the best anecdotes and reflections across our hundreds of comments. The responses are all between lower-20s and mid-30s, skew upper-middle-class and coastal, but we do have some good reminders that in more sprawled urban layouts (especially throughout the South) having a car is practically a pre-req for getting to work.
‘So many questions, so many uncertainties in this economy’
25 year old engineer here, and sorry for the long post, but you said share…
I drive a beater because though my credit is good enough to get a new car, I can’t afford one cash, and I have other debt, mainly from college, and living on credit cards in college, that I’m trying to get rid of first. At least the credit card part. Come on, no one learns perfect responsibility at 18. But we will always be a two car home, as long as cars still go fast. We both love driving, and have no desire to live in LA, NYC, Chicago, you get the picture.
I don’t own a home because the job market is too unstable. I work for a government contractor and will my contract be renewed in a year? Will my husband’s construction dependent job dry up? Will we be able to afford a mortgage? Will we even be living in the same area? Maybe, but Maybe not. We’ve already moved away from family and friends just to be able to put our degrees to use, though we’d have loved to stay near by. Even if we buy a foreclosed home cheap and fix it up, what if we have to move away? Will the market be good enough to sell it? If not, who will take care of it? Do we rent it out? This generation doesn’t care for their own possessions well, let alone things that belong to someone else.
There are so many questions, and so many uncertainties in our lives with the state of this economy. I have learned to live on a budget, coupon, stretch meals, grow some of my own food, say no to things that we’d love to do (things like movies, so many meals eaten out of the home, trips out of town, etc.), and more. If you ask me, I’m going to be this way the rest of my life. Sure, we might add a few more movies or trips, but nothing nearly like what we used to before the economy got bad. And we will only do it if we can afford to, cash, no credit required. I’ve learned to live with what I need, even though it is not always what I want. I’m happier this way, believe it or not.
I’m not sure where everyone else will be in the future, but I know my husband and I have a long term plan to to build a home on a few acres of land, that uses alternative forms of energy and is constructed with superior building materials; have animals and grow plants that to feed ourselves (and our community), and only supplement with a small amount of items as necessary, from the grocery store; raise a couple of children in that home we build, where we teach them to love their (Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Atheist, omnivore, paleo-diet, vegetarian, vegan, freegan, rich, middle class, poor, Caucasian, African-American, Hispanic, Asian, young, old, gay, straight, bisexual, transgendered) neighbor, and teach them the value of community, family, education, charity, and love. Maybe if each generation tries to do a better job of raising the next generation, you know, get involved, be parents, mentors, and teachers, we won’t have to go through any more great recession/depressions, hatred, violence, wars, poverty, suffering. Your reality starts with you.