Boomerang, Boomerang

flower and teen

So, the Millennials aren’t growing up.

As an aging Generation X-er, I feel concerned about the future of the Millennials. These young people–the generation coming of age behind us–are graduating from college and discovering their parents were wrong. Going to college does NOT guarantee you a really good, white-collar job in the field of your choice as soon as you graduate. Thanks to a stagnant economy, these young college graduates can’t earn enough to do the things adults do: pay back their loans, buy a house, start a family. Instead, they are struggling to find work, coming back home to live, and putting off babies indefinitely.

Millennials also grew up with lots of privileges and material goods, and they aren’t about to give those goodies up if they can help it. Can we blame them? They were brought up with cool clothes, video games, mobile devices, and lots of social activities like recreational soccer league and summer theater camps. Is it any wonder that they believe they should be able to have them after putting in the hard work of earning a college degree and doing everything else their parents told them would ensure their success?

Instead, they are faced with unpalatable choices. Pay for rent or pay for an unlimited data plan? One is a necessity to the Millennial…and it isn’t the apartment.

To add insult to injury, the Affordable Care Act is now forcing them to purchase health insurance they perhaps do not need in order to “make the numbers work.”

Behold: “If the ObamaCare health insurance exchanges are to function properly, it is crucial that a substantial number of people ages 18-34 join them. This age group that is young and relatively healthy must purchase health insurance on the exchanges in order to “cross-subsidize” people who are older and sicker. Without the young and healthy, the exchanges will enter a “death spiral” where only the older and sicker participate, and price of insurance premiums will increase precipitously, says David Hogberg, a health care policy analyst for the National Center for Public Policy Research.” (ObamaCare’s Success Is Dependent on Young Adults

So the poor and the aging are going to suck off the young and healthy like economic vampires. No wonder Twilight and The Vampire Diaries are so popular with this age group!

It should come as no shock(with the economy struggling and jobs still scarce and apartments still expensive and giving up technologies like iPhones unthinkable), Millennials are boomeranging back home once they finish college. See Adulthood Delayed by Derek Thompson, in the Atlantic Monthly, Feb. 14, 2012.

We Gen X parents are dismayed by this turn of events. Will we have our aging Boomer parents living in the guest rooms and our frustrated Millennial children living in our basements? We’ll do it if we have to–family is important to us. But egads! Can’t something be done?

It got me thinking. What if some smart landlords invested in creating “low-income housing” for 18-30 year-olds with a college degree? Sure, this demographic doesn’t make much money at their service-industry or entry-level jobs, but that doesn’t mean they have no intention of bettering themselves. They aren’t your typical “low-income housing” demographic, are they? They were brought up expecting to dress well, drive a decent car, hang out with other college-educated people, pay their bills, and vote on issues important to them. They want to grow up, have a good job, and be good parents.

They would probably be good tenants, especially if the complex offered free wifi.

The parking lot might be full of six-year-old Priuses (officially, I guess the plural is Prii. Puh-lease) passed down from Mom and Dad. There would have to be a coffee shop in house. Millennial tenants would be passably content, I imagine, to hang out in a cafe–socializing and networking while looking for professional-type jobs on their tablet computers and doing all the other stuff they like to do on their iPhones (texting, making videos, watching movies, reading magazines, checking Instagram and Twitter, etc.).They could grab a latte on their way to work at a)the mall b)temp agency c)restaurant d)support service for the disabled. A fitness center in the complex would provide them healthy exercise and socializing opportunities.


There should be bike storage and a bus stop. Perhaps the apartment complex should be placed in an area with some microbrewery pubs, good restaurants (for dining and for working in), a natural food store, and some consignment shops.

It would be like a college dorm–without the studying.

It would be Melrose Place for a new generation of young adults who happen to be on a really fixed budget.

Housing of this sort would give Millennials some time and a safe, comfortable space to figure out the next phase of their lives–well out of earshot of Mom and Dad who really love them AND truly are hoping their children can be the self-actualized individuals they raised them to be.

Our (guilty as hell to have helped create this poor state of affairs and I’m not just talking about the current administration which really inherited the problem) government could allow entrepreneurs to create these specialized housing units without all the red tape of “equal opportunity housing” rules that would derail such a project. There are plenty of traditional low-income housing spaces out there (and more could be built for the poor and uneducated among us), but they are not the places our college-educated, potentially upwardly mobile Millennials want to be or should be.

I’m not sure this has much to do with being a Localista except we all have these young people in our communities. I would like to see them move up, follow their life-plan, and reach full adulthood . . .

. . . somewhere other than in my basement.

10 responses to “Boomerang, Boomerang

  1. Reblogged this on Tiffany's Non-Blog and commented:
    omg if I loved this anymore I’d go crazy. PLEASE READ IN ITS ENTIRETY. THAT IS ALL.

    • Thank you, Tiffany! I’m so, so glad you liked it. You know, you write stuff and send it out there and then worry that it will be taken in a way you didn’t intend or offend someone or just sound ridiculous. It’s nice when you hear someone enjoyed it. Thanks for reading.

  2. How about in your back yard? Would that be okay? 😉

  3. Another thoughtful blog Shel. It reminded me of a time when households were set up as multi-generational. Older people watched over younger children while parents worked and in turn the young people were handed down family traditions and values. The family worked as a unit rather than scattering to the winds. You might be on to something with the apartment complexes- that would have been a wonderful place to make an adult start!

  4. I like this and would add- the housing development/apartment complex could have a self-sustaining component that would allow each tenant to give back. Have a garden and serve some community meals, everyone has a community chore that comes with a larger price tag such as lawn care, maintenance, security, etc. Communal living is getting more popular and seems to be a viable solution. Valuable lessons (social, political and economic) can be learned through creating small living communities.

  5. Good points, well said. Thanks, Shelley!

  6. I had to chuckle when I read the line describing yourself as an aging Generation X-er. I don’t consider myself ‘aging,’ yet I’m about 25 years closer to it than you are.
    At a bee meeting last evening, one of the beekeepers had just returned from Chile. He had been on a fact-finding trip from a local mill. The Chilean’s have built huge mills to harvest their trees which are on a 28 year growing cycle. (Our growing cycle is about 40 years.) They pay their workers dirt cheap wages and are set up to ‘flood’ our lumber markets, especially on the West Coast with cheap lumber. So the relatively good-paying jobs that people without a college education could get are going to dry up, and those workers will enter the unemployment lines. My question, “Doesn’t the US have any ‘tariffs’ set up to prevent that?” “No, NAFTA did away with that.”
    We better start building your specialized housing units…with US lumber.

  7. I am trying to keep it real and admit I’m no longer as young as I used to be–the future seems a little scary to me, I have to admit. Workers will have to be nimble and well-rounded, I bet.

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