Thursday, 31 October 2013

Buying a home and the desire to do better than our parents

I have recently started posting on how I have started hunting for my own home (as opposed to an investment property) and how I seriously underestimated the level of house prices in Australia.  Indeed one of the things in that latter post which shocked me the most was that I ended up looking "where my parents lived".  This post is to examine why so many people have this viewpoint and how it can create real disappointment when it comes to house hunting, especially if you were brought up in an upper middle class or affluent area.

The desire to do better than our parents is a goal shared by many people

Almost everyone has a desire to achieve something in their life.  It does not need to be financial (although in my case it is) but almost all of us have hopes and dreams that we hope to fulfil in our life.  When thinking about our goals and objectives our base line is often set by the example of those closest to us - our parents.

This does not mean that we in any way diminish what they have achieved in their life - we are often proud of what they have accomplished (sometimes in the face of great adversity).  It is just that when we set our own goals and objectives, our parents achievements are our 'norm'.  It is what we have grown up with and we do not experience the harder times when they were much younger - we experience the pinnacle of their achievement (when we are of an age to appreciate the way in which they live).

With this 'base line' set our goal is all to often to live our own life and achieve our own goals.  Our goals, however, are often set at a level higher than our parents achieved because this is 'improving our lot in life'.  It is not a particularly revolutionary idea or statement - in fact I think most people would share this way of thinking and living.

However, when we go to buy our first house...we often find ourselves going backwards

This desire and goal is
challenged when we start hunting for our first house.  We forget that the house that we moved out of was the largest and in the best area that our parents could reasonably afford and they put everything into making that house perfect for their lives.  We forget this because this house is our base line and our normal experience.

We enter the property market and are shocked to find that we cannot buy in the same area as our parents or are not able to buy a house as nice as what we are used to and that we seem to be moving backwards, not forwards.  I do not know whether this is something that is hitting generation Y particularly hard because of their belief that we are 'special' but I have certainly heard several of my friends talking about this phenomenon.

This issue is particularly hard and challenging if you have grown up in an upper middle class or affluent area.  I grew up in a lower middle income area so although it shocked me that I was looking at that area to buy my first house there, I certainly wasn't going backwards.  People who grew up in affluent areas however find that they need to move into these lower middle income areas and this is a definite step backwards.  This is what causes the common complaint of 'it was easier in my parents era'.

Remember that this is NOT your final destination

I found that I came to terms with the fact that I was not 'getting ahead' of my parents or even moving slightly backwards by remembering that I was still young.  I am in a career that far surpassed what my parents could ever earn and by the time I have moved houses a few times over my lifetime I have no doubt I can end up in a better area and in a better house than they did.

It is not that I need to prove that I am better than them - it is my goals and what I want to achieve for my life.  The best thing that I found I could do was to compare the first place my parents lived in to what I was looking to buy...and in my case I am vastly improving on that.

If you find yourself getting depressed in the housing market because you seem to be doing worse than your parents...just remember that the chances were that they were not always there.  Or if they always lived in that area it helps to remember that 30 years ago that area was probably a whole lot less cool, affluent and 'inner city' than it is now.

You May Also Be Interested In
People weren't kidding: property is really expensive in Australia
Why I started hunting for my own home so early
Should I rent or buy?
Expectations, disappointment and Gen Y

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