The millennials are a unique generation because we were born and raised under globalization, an unprecedented increase in the exchange of goods, people and ideas worldwide. However, globalization has contributed to lower wages, increased income inequality and reduced economic mobility in the United States, according to BBC. Millennials have internalized these consequences while facing fewer jobs and an extremely competitive job market. One of the ways millennials have dealt with their financial woes is by opting not to own a home.
Millennials should rent property for practical reasons.The difficulty millennials have in the job search is compounded by crippling student debt and high interest rates in the housing market. Because of the high costs associated with mortgages and lack of funds for a down payment, many millennials opt to rent homes. Renting a home is often less expensive than a mortgage in the long run, largely because of the high maintenance costs associated with home ownership. Since our generation changes jobs three times more often than our older counterparts, we can capitalize on the lack of binding contracts found in renting homes when we move to other parts of the country.
By avoiding the high maintenance and mortgage costs associated with home ownership, we can put the large amount of money we save from renting into immersive experiences like traveling and intellectual enrichment. Because those experiences enrich our minds and make us better critical thinkers, we gain an edge in the job market that we would have lacked if we had spent that money on a home. Traveling and developing ourselves intellectually also often introduces us to people we would never be able to meet otherwise. The large amount we save from renting can also go toward child rearing, paying our other bills and a larger entertainment budget. Renting is often economically and experientially advantageous for our generation.
The traditional portrayal of the American Dream as a suburban paradise complete with white picket fences and sprawling houses has become defunct. For better or worse, the home ownership element so frequently prized in the past has ceased to be a factor for our generation. Our version of the American Dream has evolved from that of past generations. Previous generations have been known for emphasizing financial stability and a permanent home that would serve as an anchor for future familial generations to live in.
However, the immobility of homeownership is not compatible with the lives of millennials. Millennials desire political and economic independence, and the opportunity to travel the world. Because of this evolution in our perception of the American Dream, we place more priority on experiences like traveling and earning an education over home ownership and are often willing to sacrifice stability for freedom.
What American Dream do Wellesley students hold? Although it would be futile to assign a one-size-fits-all definition for such a diverse group, certain characteristics of the American Dream are endemic to most Wellesley students. Many of us yearn to be financially stable enough to live freely, be politically involved in the free election of our representatives and be able to express ourselves in society. Renting a home will enable us to do just that since it frees up substantial parts of our budget for intellectually enriching experiences like traveling and education.
Sabrina Leung ‘18 is the Digital Editor majoring in International Relations-Political Science with a minor in History. She is best reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @sabrinatzleung on Twitter.