I am a 33 year old living in London. This means that for me, the norm for my age bracket is that we're stuck flat sharing, often with randoms we've found on Gumtree (and prayed to the gods they're normal enough to live with). I did recently manage to spend four years living alone, but the price I paid was having no heating, and no freezer. I could have perhaps swung a small cat, should I have wanted to attempt the test, but the cat would have scratched the walls and perhaps suffered head injuries.
In contrast, my parents had bought my family home by this age, a four-bed, run-down Victorian terrace. My mother worked in retail, and my dad was a self-employed painter and decorator. Neither had been to university, and both came from working class backgrounds.
I am significantly more privileged than my folks were; I went to university and got a good job. However, the economic changes mean that I cannot afford my own home.
I'm not even that fussed about buying; I know that many of our European neighbors don't ever buy, I'd be more than happy settling down and renting long term. Renting brings with it many perks that we often don't focus our attentions on during our panic to buy.
Renting gives a more predictable cost each month, no need to worry about paying to fix a broken boiler or a leaky roof. Renting also gives a freedom to move if you need to, no fears of being stuck in a house with negative equity or that has become unsaleable due to a new nightclub down the road.
However, the current renting situation in London rarely brings the security I am assured exists in Europe. We live in fear of massive annual rent hikes, or of unscrupulous landlords who won't ensure our homes are safe. We're often not allowed to decorate or settle in fully, we're not encouraged to keep our spaces homely, just blank and painted white ready for the next tenant to arrived when we can't afford the rent increase.
We are often told that we shouldn't begrudge the older generation as they worked hard to afford their homes, but that seems to imply that we do not. We are tarnished as lazy and a generation who suffers from entitlement. We work just as hard, but blimey, the housing climate has changed. We work hard, and are made to feel we should feel lucky to share a flat with five people we don't know. Or that we should move away from London and quit our moaning.
The house that my parents bought as a young couple, just starting out with a mortgage, sold seven years ago for over £700,000. Its current price is perhaps £800,000. My parents were just a regular working couple, a tad younger than me. It just seems like there's no solution in sight.
I don't profess to know the answer, but I'm acutely aware of the problem. I live in an area where new homes are being built all of the time, none of which helps me or my peers. I don't want to buy, yet when someone buys these flats they are not affordable for me to rent.
In my gut I feel the issues stem from the buy-to-let crowd, which has resulted in people just buying property upon property, inflating the prices for everyone else. I have no clue how we fix this mess, where people own 5,10, 15 properties, but I really think its where our answers may well lie.
I'm sure you can tell I'm no political mastermind, nor have I researched my views further than my own life experiences. However, what we need to realize, and why I'm writing this piece, is that the every day politics of our lives should not be reserved for the politically fluent. Nor for the older generations who can relax in their homes that a different economic climate afforded them. We need to feel less fear at speaking out and saying this needs to change, even when we don't know the answers.
I am envious of those who feel settled in a home, and I'm confused as to why some political agendas seem to want to lay the blame at my feet.