For as long as I can remember, family, friends, and financial experts alike have cautioned me to stay under my parents’ roof for as long as possible; heretofore, my optimistic foresight led me to kindly disregard their advice. I always thought that buying a home would be in my near future.
Now as I gear up for my first year of university and assess my feeble finances, I’m quickly realizing that I will probably be homebound well into adulthood.
Though buying a home may eventually become an option for me, right now it isn’t very enticing, with Toronto real estate costing more and more and millennials like myself earning less and less.
In fact, a recent study conducted at the University of Toronto found that, since the 1980s, the city’s generational wage gap has increased by almost 50%, with hopeful millennials trailing far behind baby boomers.
And as we acquire exponential student debt for advanced degrees, we’re faced with discouraging unemployment rates and stagnant wages, bearing the brunt of education inflation in a slow, unpredictable economy.
With that, it should come as no surprise that as a selfie-taking, hashtagging, acronym-obsessed millennial, I have a complex about buying my first home, characterized by an overarching fear of commitment, sacrifice, and failure.
1) Scary commitments
By integrating smart technology into our everyday lives, easy access to products and services has quickly evolved from luxury to necessity. So getting what you need as soon as you need it is now a way of life. Renting appears to cater to this lifestyle more effectively than ownership, making the commitment much less intimidating.
And though there are innumerable advantages to having Toronto real estate in your name, some of the greatest benefits of homeownership are reaped long-term whereas mortgage payments and tedious maintenance are incessant.
2) Making sacrifices
A recent cover story for Toronto Life, deemed the ‘Millennial Manifesto’, covered the many adventures of a man who chose to live at home and invest in experiences instead of acquiring real estate.
He said, “When I consider what I’d be giving up just to own a few hundred square feet, I am convinced: the Toronto real estate market is for suckers, and I want no part of it. Neither should you.”
The author makes it very clear that he can easily afford a downpayment. He’s held back, however, by his unwillingness to sacrifice his disposable income.
For previous generations, opting out of the real estate market in order to maintain a hearty ‘fun fund’ wasn’t even an option, but I can empathize.
Why eat ramen noodles in a home that I’m financially bound to when I can enjoy slightly more elaborate microwave dinners in a home that I’m only leasing (rent is expensive too). Or better yet, if my parents don’t mind, I can live at home and pop champagne.
Digressing - homeownership elicits a lifestyle change that some are not willing to make.
As a frequent Uber rider (who has yet to take the G1 test), owning a car is now trivial to me because I can get anywhere that I need to go with a few clicks and a few dollars, with no driver’s license necessary. Similarly, alternatives to homeownership are much more appealing because they require less sacrifice.
3) Avoiding failure
Above all, I’m fearful to enter the real estate market because I’m afraid to fail. Although this isn’t a reason to forfeit altogether, the grim financial prospects facing millennials are enough to discourage rushing into real estate immediately upon entering the workforce.
I have heard countless horror stories of young buyers floundering when they’re confronted with the hurricane of taxes and fees that come with purchasing a home. Deciphering this while handling other assets and responsibilities would be daunting and I’m not sure I would be able to rise to the occasion as a young adult.
When I move out, my goal will be to stay out, lest I fall victim to the ‘boomerang’ effect plaguing my generation. There is nothing wrong with moving back home but if I were to move out, abandoning my independence and moving back to my parents’ house would feel regressive.
So until I feel equipped to enter the Toronto housing market, I will abide to the Millennial Manifesto and happily live at home.