High prices and debt mean millennials don't plan to stop renting, and that's before their parents retire and become dependent on them

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/11/21/intergenerational-solidarity.html


%1, watch out for the guillotines once the boomers go, OK?


So what you’re saying is “moving back in with your parents” is still going to be the norm just for a totally different set of reasons that somehow Millenials will still be blamed for?


The allure of living downtown appealed to me when I was young but I soon realized that a mortgage payment for a house on the outskirts of town would be cheaper than renting an apartment in the city. That first house was only 725 sq ft but it allowed me to build equity and move up from there.


It took almost 3 decades of building equity in the ridiculously expensive Vancouver real estate market but I’m finally downtown. Now to get rid of the car.


“That means that these debt-burdened, renting millennials, struggling with wage stagnation and gig-economy precarity, will soon be expected to care for their parents, either by moving them into their own rented homes, or by taking time away from work and their own families to care for their increasingly frail parents.”

No. Just say no. I am aware of how heartless and cruel this sounds, and in some situations it won’t be possible. I am a millennial, on the very oldest edge of that generation (by some definitions I am slightly too old to be considered one). I live with my mom (a Trump voting boomer), and my husband, and my kids. I regret it, and I have too much money sunk into my house to change it anytime soon. It’s like having an extra kid who doesn’t listen to you. If you’re considering it, please let me be your ghost of Christmas future. Go live your best life without this mess. The boomers left your grandparents in a nursing home.


So without people, there’s no Soylent Green is what you’re saying.

(93yo at home with us)


Sadly it doesn’t quite work that way in many places. Many of my peers that have purchased homes are paying more monthly than they would in rent. A combination of the wrecked credit that comes with that whole student debt problem, and skyrocketing real estate values. And that’s for those that can get a loan in the first place and have a down payment on hand. Many more “affordable” options like condos and co-op apartment purchases come with built in “Management” fees that I was surprised to hear are often close to what rent would cost. So depending on where you are, you might end up basically paying a mortgage and rent.

I live in a place without a downtown at all. And pretty much no matter how far I go I’m not getting a house for less then a million. I don’t have a million bucks, and no one’s gonna lone me a million bucks. So if home ownership is ever gonna be on the horizon for me, I gotta leave. Which I’d like to do anyway, but I’d need to be lucky enough to land somewhere and get my self un-fucked before the real-estate market there starts to look like the one here. Cause everyone else is also doing that so a lot of those smaller cities and outlying areas are starting get the same cost issues.


I sold my house earlier this year, let my ex-wife keep the car and moved to downtown Seattle. I regret nothing.

Some photos


Here’s what I don’t understand: what’s going to happen when all these Boomers die or move to nursing homes and flood the market with houses? Will prices crash so that millennials can afford houses (good) and Boomers can’t use home equity to pay for nursing homes (bad)? Or will huge rental companies swoop in to buy them all and create an ecosystem that requires high rents to keep property values high? Or something else entirely? For all the stories about the retirement crisis, this question doesn’t seem to be on the radar for researchers and reporters.


When the debt-pushing used money salesmen bought enough politicians that they made student loans non-dischargeable, it was inevitable that they would manage to saddle millennials with a home mortgage worth of debt before they were out of school.


Why can’t great-grandma join the gig economy like everybody else?


A combination. Housing prices will crash, but because Millenials won’t be able to afford the downpayments (due to their parents’ high medical and nursing home bills and/or having to put in unpaid caregiving labour) they’ll either continue renting or move back in with their parents (effectively tenants/employees). A lot of those houses will be underwater on their mortgages (or, in places like Miami, literally underwater), so inheriting an affordable one won’t be likely for most Millenials, either.


Developers will buy up all the dead boomer houses, knock them down, then build luxury condos and mcmansions. Then sit on them for years when nobody is rich enough to buy them.

Eventually they’ll abandon the properties, they’ll get condemned and knocked down again.


I’m pretty sure all the preceding things you mention will cut many lives short.

Sitting here on the cusp of turning 52 with no significant savings built up, I personally see two options in my future – assuming capitalism keeps going down the road it’s on – which are:

  1. Never retire; work until I drop dead

  2. Pick a day to shuffle out onto one of the vanishing ice flows, and stick to that date.


One thing’s missing from your question: Location.

Millenials don’t want to live in the burbs where their parents bought homes in the 70s. Anyone who does want to live out there won’t be able to afford the inflated prices boomers have been propping up for the past 30 years.

Demand is about to fall off a cliff and we’re in the middle of another housing bubble but don’t even realize it.


While Boomers will be blamed for squandering the Millennials’ inheritance on their own healthcare, and having failed to provide their children with a decent start in life. (And simultaneously be blamed for holding all the wealth and not letting the Millennials have their fair share). Consistency isn’t a strong point on either side of the supposed generational divide.

Please don’t lump the majority (yes, majority) of Boomers in with your “Fox News watching, Trump voting” stereotype, no matter how bitter the personal experience that led to it. You’ll find that a little over half of the Boomers agree with your politics.

The majority who go to their reward without needing nursing home care will leave their houses and whatever assets they have to their kids, who will then become the reviled landlords while those who were unfortunate enough to have their parents in the minority who go into nursing homes will continue to be trapped in the cycle of debt.

The scenario of “Grandma goes into a nursing home and all her assets and her house go to her care” is a minority one. It happens horribly, atrociously often, but it is not the majority scenario. Disability and death come eventually to all, but most are able to travel that road with the assistance of only home care, assistive living, and relatively brief stays in rehab facilities.


We got lucky. Bought our first condo with assistance from my parents 22 years ago; maintenance fees were $120 with a $700 monthly mortgage. Sold it for half again what we bought it for seven years later and rolled the proceeds over into the down for our current house. House is now worth double what we bought it for, but the mortgage is the same as we might have rented the condo for, while the condo maintenance fees have rocketed to $500 per month.

The bigger spectre is parents or grandparents who don’t have enough wherewithal to afford care on their own, and end up relying on support from the kids, who are themselves struggling to make ends meet.


Which is something that all too many Boomers, particularly women, faced in caring for the Greatest Generation. Nobody is more frightened of creating another Sandwich Generation than the Boomers themselves.


In the desirable urban areas, yes. It’ll cost a hefty premium to live in a walkable community with decent public transit, so only the top decile or maybe ventile will be able to afford it. I suspect a lot of the luxury condo buildings will become luxury rental buildings for young professionals. Otherwise…

…is true. So in the exurbs and automobile suburbs, private equity will buy up the houses and McMansions on the cheap, subdivide them, and rent them out at exhorbitant rates that are just barely affordable to the 80%.