I think about the future a lot, especially lately. Article after article is out about my generation, Gen Y. And although 1980 - 1982 is a hazy grey area, which is where the Dude and I fall under, I identify with Y. My teen years had the internet, which frankly I think set the tone for Gen Y's understanding of the world. Gen X grew up without it, for the most part, and didn't get cell phones till well after college. I think in many ways the technology we have as kids and teens is what really changes our cultural experiences.
But being at the very front of this generation has meant not having been inundated from a young age with everything we've come to take for granted. It's also meant getting into the job market before the larger wave of us hit the scene right in time for the Great Recession. And in my case, not getting the university degree, opting for three years college, I really got in the door at the right time. My job would be impossible to get at my pay grade now, and it's union protected.
So I'm lucky. I'm not in my dream job and there's no room for advancement, but I make okay money, I have benefits and a defined benefit pension plan and therefore I'm better off than a lot of graduates with masters degrees looking for work right now. By virtue of being older, basically, because I was at the front of the new cohort of young adults and didn't take much time in post-secondary. That's it. That wound up being the magic key.
Something I didn't get in the door for: a house. A house! That just plain ain't happening. We can't afford it in this city. Toronto is insane. Something drastic would have to happen to the housing market, decimating prices, which would of course rock the economy and ruin us all, so nothing really can be done and there's nothing to hope for except stagnated prices, perhaps a small drop that won't ruin anyone's lives, and then give frugal living a chance to build some savings. Sigh.
And yet I still worry. With all the stability I've just mentioned, I still have concerns about my future, I guess because it's not as bright as I'd hoped it would be. Letting go of the dream of home ownership has been a small blow. I mean, I love renting because I don't have to pay for any repairs and my water bill is included. I don't get hit with property taxes. I like that. But psychologically, it's hard to feel like a proper middle class adult when you can't buy your own house at nearly 30 years of age.
I wonder what the next 10 years will be like. For the first time in this country's history, the parents have not left the country in better shape for their kids. Honestly, I think Gen Y is lost, with the youngest of us in the worst shape of all. Over educated, under-employed and without opportunity. Crappy interest rates making saving a nightmare, housing prices through the roof (which only benefits the boomers who are downsizing and getting a massive return on investment), and food and transportation is more expensive than ever. Throw in the income gap between rich and poor, which hasn't been this pronounced since what? The Great Depression? To put it plainly, I'm not terribly optimistic.