For Gen Z, owning a home is a dream left behind with Blockbuster and MP3 players

Most of us have probably heard the suggestions that if we 'buy less avocados' or 'stop paying for Netflix', we'll magically be able to buy property.
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Do you remember when you were a child and you would see twenty-something-year-olds and think, 'Wow, I can't wait to grow up and be independent, buy a house and have a family of my own.'? It seemed like a given back then, but now, dreams of owning a home truly feel like just that, dreams.

In Liverpool, the average house price in December last year was £174,603, Land Registry figures show. It means young people need to save around £17,400 for a standard 10% deposit for a mortgage.

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To some, this might seem an achievable goal, but for many young people - who are working full time, paying rent, paying bills and living independently - it's an impossible task. Not to mention, most high street mortgage lenders allowing a borrowing multiple of 4.5 times your salary - meaning young people earning £20,000 are looking at being approved for mortgages of less than £100,000.

Most of us have probably heard the suggestions that if we 'buy less avocados' or 'stop paying for Netflix', we'll magically be able to buy property. But, in reality, Millennials and Gen Z-ers, like me, are living pay check to pay check and sacrificing socialising with friends, just to be able to stay afloat. Becoming homeowners feels like a far away dream, as wages stagnate, food prices increase, interest rates sky rocket and our Help to Buy ISAs - that we opened many moons ago - contain just a couple of pounds to prevent them from closing.

We see some people our age buying houses with their partners, and applaud their efforts, wondering how on earth they have managed to do so. Often, they have sacrificed their independence right up until their mid-twenties or early-thirties, living with their parents to avoid paying extortionate private rental costs and energy bills. I look at these people and wonder if I should have done the same, as leaving home at nineteen for university and renting by myself ever since, has caused the savings I once had to deplete.

And that's the problem with renting. I won't allow myself to actually work out the exact figure, but renting for nearly eight years has cost me at least twice the cost of an average house deposit in Liverpool. But, instead of being invested into a property of my own, that money has gone to private landlords, most of whom I have never even met face to face.

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Add in the whirlwind of the pandemic, followed in quick succession by insane energy prices and the cost-of-living crisis, and you'll find that most people in my age group - 25 to 35 - have been left feeling pretty hopeless and left behind.

The travelling I told myself I would do in my mid-twenties definitely isn't happening, nor is the partying or the childhood dreams of using my own money to buy whatever I wanted. Instead, I have been a regular at my local bank, often requesting that portions of money in my Help to Buy ISA be transferred into my current account, to keep me from being overdrawn at the end of the month.

A stressed woman attempts to manage her finances. Image: SB Arts Media/stock.adobeA stressed woman attempts to manage her finances. Image: SB Arts Media/stock.adobe
A stressed woman attempts to manage her finances. Image: SB Arts Media/stock.adobe

My peers are in the same situation too, with meals out and fancy drinks quickly becoming walks or movie nights at home, because the concept of being 'wasteful' with money that we don't need to spend is something we just cannot justify.

Speaking with my peers, Kathryn, 32, lives in Liverpool and said she expected she would own her own home by the age of 30, as her parents owned their own homes, as did the parents of her friends growing up. She said there is 'no extra money to be saved' these days, with the cost-of-living crisis causing income to be spent only on necessities, adding: "People are expected to save £30,000 for a house deposit, when most do not make than in one year." 

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In the mid-1990s, the time many of us were born, average house prices were around four times the average wage, but official figures from the Office for National Statistics published in 2022, showed we could expect to spend eight times our annual earnings on a property - and house prices are only set to rise. Remember me saying many mortgage lenders will only allow borrowing of 4.5 times your salary?

When telling the older generation that many of us have come to terms with the fact that we will never own homes, we're often met with the response that we 'need to be better at saving' or 'be less wasteful with money' but saving money in this economy truly is a luxury, and there's no spare money to waste. Or, we're met with sadness and shock that something that was once so normal is now so difficult to achieve, a dream left behind with Blockbuster and MP3 players.

A lot of us will undoubtedly blame the government, growing up with the Tories in power, unable to even remember what it was like before. Especially in Liverpool, a city with high levels of poverty, unfairly stereotyped and often forgotten. The government's response to covid-19, Brexit and a range of other factors led to inflation and their response to the cost-of-living crisis has been pretty abysmal.

But, the Bank of England's interest rates, energy firms, employers failing to pay a fair wage and the rich corporations hiking prices more than necessary have all played their part too. The blame game isn't really what's important at this point though, the damage has been done and for many of us, our future plans have been destroyed, our hopes of being financially stable enough to have children by the age of 30 have faded and all we want is change.

We don't want pity or sympathy, nor do we need your best tips and tricks for being more frugal, we want those who have the power to change things to listen to us, the forgotten generation.

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