Are millennials living on avocados - and beyond their means?

One millionaire property tycoon thinks so

Are millennials living on avocados - and beyond their means?

[Flickr/Hannah Queen]

“When I was trying to buy my first home, I wasn’t buying smashed avocado for $19 and four coffees at $4 each."

So says 35-year-old property tycoon Tim Gurner - according to the millionaire, millennials are facing into the future never owning their own home.

"We are coming into a new reality where … a lot of people won’t own a house in their lifetime. That is just the reality," he told 60 Minutes.

But is avocado toast the real reason why so many are struggling to afford mortgages?

"I came out of college in 2007, just as everything was about to go bust, and spent most of twenties earning less than €25,000 in cities around the world," Sinead O'Carroll, Head of News at The Journal told The Pat Kenny Show.

"I'm not married. As a single person, I can't go in and get a mortgage."

Sunday Times columnist Brenda Power, however, said Gurner has a point when it comes to millennial attitudes towards savings. 

"As a parent of millennials, I see no real connection between the idea of saving and acquiring something, and I think that's the fault of my generation," she said. 

"However, I think it's much more complex than simply 'stop eating avocado on toast and you'll have a house in five years'. I can't blame young people today for despairing.

"I was able to buy a house at 26 because there was simply nothing else to spend money on [...] I remember being shown a house on Cork Street [in Dublin] for £3,000."

Choice

O'Carroll cited the abundance of choice available to them as one of the "enviable" differences between the generations.

"I think the idea that millenials waste their money on avocado toast comes from the idea that we had stagnated wages for a long time and this is the first time we've had disposable income with no access to the housing market."

However, she said one thing her generation doesn't have a choice on concerns housing ownership.

"I spoke to a TD recently and his still belief was that everybody in Ireland wanted to own a home. That's not everyone's desire. I would personally like to have security in a decent rental.

"I think the idea of generations above looking at the generation below them and thinking, 'they're not working as hard' [...] I think my generation will probably do that to the ones below us.

"I had a job the entire way through college. If I went on any extravagant trips, I was staying in hostels and I was paying for them."

Power, meanwhile, said the focus for young people has moved to experiences and not tangible things, because now, there are more to be had.

"There's a lack of any sense of delayed gratification ever. If you wanted to see the second episode of a television series, you waited until next week. If you wanted Ed Sheeran's new record, you saved up for the 45, you didn't just click on Spotify."