We live in a great time, the most peaceful it has ever been, with significant breakthroughs in science; mankind is on the precipice of greatness. However, the price of living continues to grow alongside our advancements, warranting worry whether or not the next generation will find themselves homeless.
Back in 1940, housing cost roughly $44,000 in today’s American dollars. To buy a house now would mean forking out $173,000. However, it is not solely an American problem. Looking to the East, China’s real estate for a 1000-square-foot apartment in Shanghai will fetch around $725,000 dollars or 5 million yuan. How is it that those in China are able to sustain a 90% rate for families who own their own homes? On top of that, 80% of the homes are not on loan or mortgaged and 20% of the mainlanders own a second home.
According to Forbes, this is largely due to the pressures of society. Owning a home is seen as a guarantee of financial stability and therefore, has become a necessity in China. While it might be a long stretch for fresh graduates or even those who have been working for years to purchase their own home, many parents are willing to fork out their savings to help their children with procuring stability.
In the United Kingdom, it takes an average of 9 years on an average income to afford a 214,000 pound or $274,000 dollar home. Comparatively to the rest of the world, America has a rather low housing price to income ratio as employees in the States are paid quite well.
So why is it housing has become virtually unattainable?
It is common to find blame in foreign investors. The Canadians do it and so do the Australians. However, the Herald Sun points out the foreigners are only “allowed to invest in newly built property so they can aid supply, not restrict it”. Furthermore, offshore buyers are encouraged to invest during the development stage of new accommodations in order to finance the construction among other considerations.
According to NAB – National Australia Bank – “local investors increased their share of all new property sales over the quarter, rising to almost a quarter (24.4 per cent). And that doesn’t include first homebuyer investors. First homebuyer investors accounted for 12.2 per cent of new developments — a bigger proportion than foreign investors.” And when it came to the sales of established properties, “local investors accounted for 20.6 per cent of the market and first homebuyer investors made up 10.6 per cent of all existing home sales.”
It is clear in that regard that offshore buyers do not have a big hand in inflating the affordability of homes and rather, locals have created a higher demand for houses, especially in popular areas. However, they are not to be ignored as many might point out that the 15% of foreign investment in new property sales could have been sold to domestic investors instead.
With the prices of accommodation at and all time high, it has begun to cultivate a new way of life; paving the way for a new breed of entrepreneurs who call themselves travelpreneurs, also known as digital nomads. These pioneers look for the silver lining in bad situations. Unable to afford a house? Make the world your home. Take the opportunity to see and experience the world the way corporate staff and those who live the American Dream never will.
They incorporate qualities of a travelling lifestyle with a marketing scheme to help them fund their adventure. Many have an online business or market themselves as a brand such as One Mile at a Time who offer advice on how better plan vacations through insider information and keep their readers updated on the latest news in travelling. They make commissions off advertorial write-ups for their large readership.
There are also those who take a more comprehensive and relatable approach, like Nomadic Matt. He quit his cubicle job for the allure of travel. He has been featured on The New York Times, CNN and various other mainstream media for his advice on how to spend less and earn enough to continue feeding his wanderlust. Employing the services from websites such as upwork, outsourcely, coupon buffer or other freelance gigs, one may potentially work by the beach or from a bar in some secluded area – so long as you have wifi.
Many of these individuals have taken to staying with locals over hired accommodation. This allowed for a better understanding of the culture they have chosen to experience and also, save a significant amount of money. For those who prefer their own personal space and prefers to have a proper home to unwind in, there is always the choice of a motorhome. Van life has become glorified, popping up in recent years with a vehemence.
People have always lived in campervans, but it has not been extremely feasible or practical before the technological boom which has allowed for online earning and thereby supplementing that lifestyle which makes no room for a full time job.
However, Bryan Danger begs to differ, saying that “we always seem to be trained that earning more money is the way to free yourself, but from our perspective, spending less is the way”. He is currently 41 and travelling full time with his wife, Jen Danger. While they do own a property, they rent it out so they may continue on wandering around American in their Sprinter, an upgrade from their original Volkswagen bus. What initially started as a vacation plan, took on a life of its own and transformed theirs.
The Volkswagen has become such a hot commodity, they are looking into creating a new electric model for 2022. With the increasing prices of housing and the freedom that beckons through this new alternative lifestyle, more and more people may take to the roads instead of settling down for a white picket fence and that might not be such a bad thing.