First and foremost, house prices have risen so high that the majority of young people simply cannot afford to buy their own property.
House prices have risen much faster than the average income, especially in major cities like London. At the same time, rent prices have also rocketed, meaning that young people are able to save less and less money to eventually put towards a mortgage. This vicious cycle continues until some sort of large cash injection from a relative finally frees them.
To suggest that young people are only renting because they are being forced to would be to do them an injustice. While a lot of people are indeed renting because it’s their only choice, there is also a large proportion of young people who are not looking to purchase property because they are living a ‘transient’ lifestyle.
This means that they are looking for more short-term accommodation that fits around their travelling, allowing them to move around freely, from city to city, without any strings attached. This lifestyle choice means that less and less people are even interested in buying their own property.
Along with the rise of transient living, Generation Rent is also the result of other changing priorities.
Career, exciting life experiences, social awareness, giving back; these are all things that young people are prioritising over property purchases.
Although these are not new human desires, in the past there has been real weight placed on the importance of buying a property. It was considered a vital life step, an indicator of success and maturity. Perceptions of what you ‘should’ do as a young person have changed. This more relaxed list of expectations allows for greater freedom of choice which, in turn, means the life choices available to young people are much broader than they used to be.
Connectivity and interconnectivity allow people to work and play from anywhere in the world. The internet means that nobody needs to be in a certain place to carry out a job or keep in touch with friends. Because of that, the broader world is suddenly at your fingertips.
Someone can be in Brazil but, because of the internet, they can still be in a meeting in London or ask advice from a friend in Paris. If that friend says, ‘Come out here and live with me for a few months’, they can pack their bags and shoot off.
People no longer have an urgent need to be physically close to each other because they can always be in 24/7 contact. Psychologically, the disappearance of this need removes a lot of the desire to create yourself a long-term base where your friends know how to find you.
Generation Rent is the result of everything that has come before. All of the innovations we have seen in communication, connectivity, travel and work/life balance, combined with the economical changes we have endured, have led to the demand for buying homes has fallen and the rental market has boomed.