Lost hopes. A sleeping bag. A soul filled with suffering and pain. Defenseless. Uncertain. Alone.
This is what we may first imagine when thinking about a homeless person or homelessness as a concept. Although this seems like a part of life far away from us, this is a reality we Millennials might face once we retire – IF we ever retire, that is. Often called “generation rent”, Millennials will soon be called “generation homeless” as the majority of us are caught up in a never-ending cycle of renting.
According to a report by the Resolution Foundation, one in three UK Millennials will never be able to own a home and at least “630,000 young people won’t be able to afford private rents when they retire.” Another research from the University of Chicago in 2017, shows that each year “1 in 10 young adults ages 18 to 25 experience some form of homelessness […]. Half of the prevalence involves couch surfing only.” There is no denying that Millennial homelessness is on the rise and all of us are one life event away from losing everything. Just the thought of being homeless one day is terrifying, isn’t it?
At the same time, there is another kind of homelessness we as Millennials are currently suffering from. This kind of homelessness is not “the state of not having a home” or a roof over your head. It can exist even if you have a home. It is the lingering feeling of not having a single place you can literally and figuratively call home. The feeling of not having a place you can always come back to and not feel like a stranger.
Why aren’t Millennials buying homes?
Nowadays, it is becoming even harder to build our whole lives in one single place and stick with it. This is why so many Millennials (myself included) are reluctant to buy a home. Extremely high house prices, tighter lending, and high levels of student debt, for instance, are all sound reasons why Millennials aren’t buying homes. Furthermore, according to an article by University Herald “in 2018, fewer than 60% of people between the ages of 25 and 34 lived with either a spouse or partner compared to 80% in 1967. The growing complexities of marrying and having children mean that Millennials stay longer at home and postpone purchasing their first home.”
Add the fact that there is so much freedom to “teleport” to other cities, countries, short or long term rentals, Airbnbs, or even to choose the van life and you get an idea why Millennials, unlike Generation X and Baby Boomers, are not that fond of owning a home. In fact, 63 percent of Millennials who do buy homes, regret it afterward for many reasons.
This constant state of moving has also lead us to switch to a different mode, one of unsettling. Always ready to pack our entire lives into a single suitcase. Sometimes even into a single backpack. Maybe we do this out of a need for grabbing as many opportunities as we can get our hands-on. A need for always shooting higher and higher. But, is higher better in this case? Are we not depriving ourselves of ever feeling a sense of homeness? Of ever having a place we can always come back to?
I wonder what I would do in case I find that special place that makes me feel like I belong. Maybe the home I am looking for doesn’t exist. Maybe I am looking for a home in the wrong places. Or maybe, just maybe, in a subconscious way, I am hoping to never find it. This way I can set myself free at any time. Always on the move with no strings attached.
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