Latest News

We are the smashed avocado generation. Hear us roar

According to The Australian millennials can't afford property because they spend too much on brunch. Our writers weigh in....
This weekend The Australian newspaper published a column that suggested that 20-somethings can’t afford property because they spend too much on fancy avocado on toast brunches. So our writers weighed in.
“Baby boomers just don’t get it”  
Bernard Salt better learn how to poach eggs and make his own Hollandaise sauce because there is scarcely a café on the Eastern seaboard that would be happy to have him cross their threshold after this week.
That’s because Salt, a demographer and social commentator whose finger is not so much on the pulse but clumsily pawing in its vague direction via a newspaper column, published a piece in The Australian which he argued that Gen Y don’t own their own houses because they splash their cash around on pricey avocado-on-toast brunches. 
Let’s leave aside the fact that his maths don’t stack up (a 20 per cent deposit on your average Sydney house equates to 9,291 servings of avocado on toast, which is about 25 years worth of avo on toast). Let’s leave aside the fact that he thinks smashed avo and sourdough sets most people back $22 (where the hell is he breakfasting?)
And let’s for the moment overlook the somewhat smarmy tone of his column (“I can afford to eat this for lunch because I am middle-aged and have raised my family. But how can young people afford to eat like this? Shouldn’t they be economising by eating at home? How often are they eating out?”). Although, dear reader, his smug prose is enough to have one reaching for their organic matcha and Nepalese singing bowl to calm down.
Salt’s total tone deafness over the economic reality of being young(ish) in Australia is equally galling and maddening. In fact 25-34 year-olds in 2010 spent considerably less on food, transport, household furnishings, clothing and booze than their 1989 counterparts. However, the 2010 cohort have to contend with considerably higher housing costs. Huh.
The reality for Gen Y is that housing affordability is a huge issue (less so, perhaps, for middle-aged social demographers who have enjoyed decades of success). It’s also an issue that doesn’t affect our federal pollies (who on average own, get ready for this, 2.5 houses each). None of these older, and mostly male, power brokers and decision makers seem to be interested in trying to comprehend the stark financial reality of the housing market today because it has no bearing on their comfortable lives. 
What is most upsetting and in fact saddening is that Salt totally fails to even begin to comprehend the resignation Gen Y feels when it comes to owning a home. He totally fails to fathom that the Great Australian Dream has nothing to do with a quarter acre block and three bedrooms any more.
The Great Australian Dream is now about enjoying today and the moment. And that’s not some feeble justification for wanton hedonism and Midori for breakfast. It’s a reflection of the fact that the world has changed in the past two decades and self-satisfying generational censure is about as useful as a spiralizer. 
The Great Australian Dream is now about being be able to step away from incessant work emails and credit card debt and social media notifications to spend a couple of hours sitting in the sunshine with people you like to eat some damn good toast with lashings of avo.
“He has a point”

I get it. Avocado toast is my life. Bu when my husband and I were saving for our house, any avocado toast we ate wasn’t being created by some bearded hipster chef in an overpriced artisan café every day; it was made by me, at home.

Sometimes you have to make sacrifices – whether those are big sacrifices or small ones is up to you. You must decide what is and isn’t important enough for you. If you want to own your own home, then the reality is that today (and yes we can sit around all day lamenting the ease with which our parents snaffled up their first house, but that’s not going to change the mortgage rates in 2016) it’s not easy – and it’s going to take hard work.

While I cringe at much of what Bernard Salt says (not to mention the way he said it), part of me can’t help but feel like there is a bigger picture message here.

The fact is, it’s tough out there. I know. I’ve been through the saving, the house-hunting, the auction and then subsequent reality of ‘Sh*t, we got the house, not we actually have to pay it off’. And the saving doesn’t end when the auctioneer’s hammer goes down; owning a house is a big responsibility, and one that you’re reminded of every month when the mortgage bill arrives.

But when I think about conversations I have with friends, often over said overpriced servings of avocado toast, about how they’ll never afford a home in a suburb in which they want to live…. as they sit there decked out in designer clothes that they got from the second overseas holiday they’ve been on this year… well, I can see where Salt is coming from.

I get it, I love avocado toast, designer clothes and travel as much as anyone – and I agree that there’s more to life than owning your own home. So if you decide that home ownership is not for you, and a great lifestyle is, then all power to you.  But it’s often said that the problem with Gen Y is that we want it all and we want it now. So maybe, just maybe, we need to make some choices.

Ask yourself, would you give up the avocado toast to own your own home? If the answer is a HELL NO, then that’s great, that’s your choice. But if the answer is yes, then maybe this is all a little bit of food for thought…

Related stories