As a girl they told me I could buy my dream home one day. As a young adult, they told me, no one gets their dream home on the first go. You buy a starter home, build equity, and maybe one day with some luck and the right timing, you build your dream home or buy it. Quickly, I realized just to own a home was the dream. Home ownership itself was the barrier I was striving for.
I grew up in squalor. In peeling paint, moldy ceilings that leaked with heavy rain, and holes in the floor patched in with foam. Really my expectations for my first home were low. I needed it to be a solid investment, but I was not afraid of a little work here and there. Good bones. My first home has been just that. The projects are there, but nothing too crazy. It's more than enough room, and cozy. But, the price of it, well that was a bit hard to accept. Of course, I chose to move to an expensive state, and know how much that has impacted it.
But, with the money I make, I thought I would be able to afford more. After all, with my spouse, our household income is above average. And, true, if we wanted to save less, we could buy more. We stayed 100K under what was were approved to spend. After all, there are student loans to pay off and with no intention to have children, we don't require a lot of space. But, even if we had spent more, the difference in pricing would have put us in the same neighborhood, perhaps with a bigger garage or bedrooms, but nothing too fancy.
Oh how my expectations have shifted. How the marks of sucess have changed! I think just owning a home was perhaps a feat that we were lucky to pull off. And, really, it was a lot of luck and kindness from the sellers that got us the house we wanted. Housing in general has become an interesting topic.
I went out for dinner last night with my spouse. We sat in a booth, and throughout our course of dining overheard the booth adjacent to us where an older gentleman (a boomer or someone from the silent generation) sat with a middle aged lady, likely a young boomer or someone from gen X. He was offering her financial advice, which I found to be poor in some regards and telling of how much the world has changed.
What really stood out to me from their conversation though was business advice he was offering on rental housing. He was encouraging her to purchase a second home, one to use as an AirBnB rental. After all, this is Alaska, one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in the US, and Anchorage is a hub for that.
You don't want something in a cheap neighborhood that's run down. But, not too nice that's it's too expensive. Something that doesn't need too much work, but that you can make better. Something in a better part of town. Something middle of the road. You buy that second property and fix it up, then rent it out through AirBnB in the summer with tourists. And, in the winter, you do longer term rentals with locals at a lower rate.
This practice is destroying housing. It's making purchasing housing before the age of forty impossible for many millennials and gen Z's. It's one of multiple problems, but it's one that heavily plagues my community. My spouse and I are fortunate enough to afford a home. Grant it, we are DINKS, have degrees, and work in specialized careers, and those privileges certainly help our situation.
The grim reality is that wealthier generations are buying up the middle income housing then turning it around as rentals, depleting the market for first time home buyers and driving up the price of housing. What was once the American dream for young adults budding in their careers is now a business opportunity for older generations. And in tourist communities like Anchorage, it's a business opportunity that takes away housing for residents because the properties are often used as short term rentals instead of long term rentals for locals.
And as my housing becomes the next person's business adventure, the value of that property shoots up. What was once obtainable on the average salary becomes exclusive to the above average. The middle income becomes the low income, and the low income becomes homeless.
So, I felt angry listening to this gentleman talk. Angry that more people don't weigh the impact of their choices on the community. Angry that the idea of home ownership was such a critical piece of the American Dream that was championed to everyone. It's been a founding piece of American culture for years. The right to own land, to own a home, has been fought for numerous times. And, here the next generation sits, having to fight for it once again.
And, truthfully, I made it work. But, as I watch my friends and peers struggle, my heart aches. They may never. They may only later in life. Until then, it's rentals they do the best to make theirs. But, renting isn't like owning a home. After all, I just spent the summer ripping up my yard and planting fruit trees, building gardens, and seeding flowers. On the interior, we have spent money and time stamping our marks of personality and flair. I would not dare spend this money and effort on a rental knowing it would all need undoing at the end of my time. Plus, I am building equity and wealth. Though I won't have children, this lets me start generational wealth if I wanted to.
At the end of the day, it's a space that's mine. That belongs to me. It's, simply put, MY home. Not rooms that I rent from a stranger and temporarily name home as I line their pockets with passive income. But, alas, these spaces are bought up by our parents and grandparents or corporations and sold back to us to make their wealth increase, all the while as their pricing consumes paychecks to a point of absurdity.
In my friend group, I am one of the few that is blessed enough to own a home. What was once a right is now a privlege that we will see less and less of young generations enjoy. I hope there is a revolution of reclaiming the market. I hope there is a shift. History says there will be. But, even if there is, there will still be a whole gap of people that were unable to. There will be a portion of my generation that just resigns that owning a home is a privilege that arrives with middle age. If it arrives. While we wait for that happen, the homeless numbers will climb. And, here in the bitter of winter, that means the death rate will rise as well.
About the Creator
I am an author from deep East Texas with a passion for horror and fantasy, often heavily mixed together. In my spare time, when I am not writing, I draw and paint landscape and fantasy pieces. I now reside in Alaska where adventures await.