YOUNG professionals are giving up on the great Australian dream, resigned to lives of perpetual renting and “maybe better holidays” in the face of unattainable housing.
Lucy Stevens is 24 and in a very different position than she thought she would be at this stage of her career.
The design graduate earns about $25/hr in her job as a junior designer, she knows she could earn more and maybe get a little closer to entering the property market, but like many young people like her, she’s chosen to focus on her career.
“I think maybe 20 years ago, with out parents, it was the Australian dream, but our generation is different, it’s just keeping up with work and furthering your career and, eventually getting yourself into the best financial position possible,” she says.
With about a third of her income going towards rent on her inner Sydney share house, where the median house price sits at around $1.2 million, Lucy says like most of her friends in a similar position, she can’t see herself entering the property market and has decided it’s just not worth it.
“I think we’ve already been priced out,” she says.
“I’d had that dream before but when I see the lengths people have to go to to save, it’s just unattainable.
“I don’t think it would be worth it or that it would be fair on myself to put everything into a tiny place. I think travel is a higher priority, I’ve never owned a car worth more than $2000, I just can’t see owning a house being worth it.”
Lucy is certainly not alone in her priorities. A study by university group Think Education education shows more than half of young Australian workers were more concerned with their salary and careers than their living situation.
In a survey of 1500 working Australians aged 18 — 35, only 15.2 per cent said they were more concerned about how and where they lived than their job, salary, education and relationships.
When asked what they would most like to change in their lives, the most common response from young people was their salary (36.4 per cent) followed by their career (22.9 per cent).
June housing figures showed investors accounted for more than 40 per cent of $32 billion in property sales, and first home buyers made up only 15.9 per cent of owner occupied housing commitments.
This is also a generation looking to further their careers at a time when overall wage growth has tumbled from four per cent a year to a record low of 2.3 per cent.
Professor Helmut Lueckenhausen, the Executive Dean for Think Education says the research highlights the high expectations many young people have for their careers, while also reinforcing that they need to take control if they want to improve their salary or career prospects.
“To land your dream job or get that promotion, you need to be constantly learning and evolving, and pushing yourself to be one step ahead of the pack. You can’t just expect it to land in your lap,” he says.
“One of the most important questions young people should be asking themselves is, ‘how can I get the experience and industry connections I need to get ahead in my chosen field?’”
Lucy says she used to think by the time she was 30 she’d be settled down, owning her own home and working in a job that paid well. She now knows she could be earning more right now in another field, but she’s playing the long game, and looking to get ahead.
“Now at 30 I’d hope to be earning around $70,000, in a creative director position, and I’m on the right path to doing that,” she says.
“Obviously I’d love to have a place of my own to decorate and style, that’s what I do, but you’ve got to prioritise.”
This article first appeared in news.com.au