Coming of age amid job scarcity, student debt and soaring house prices, studies have shown that today’s millennial generation are among the least optimistic in the world. While the media has been quick to cite the entitlement and narcissism of this selfie-obsessed generation as the root cause of their own unhappiness, the endemic unease felt by generation Y is far from self-induced.
Starting with the world of employment, a sharp distinction between expectations and reality confronts millennials entering the workforce. Brought up by baby-boomers, who themselves had been able to fulfil their own parents’ dreams of stable and prosperous careers thanks to the economic prosperity of the 70s, 80s and 90s, millennials too grew up thinking they too could achieve professional success. However, unlike their parents, millennials are statistically far more likely to be employed on zero-hours, casual or freelance terms – calling into question the assumption that young professionals bounce from job to job because we’re impatient and overly demanding.
The rewards too are less satisfying. According to new research, Britain’s current young generation earned £8,000 less during their 20s than their parents and are at risk of being the first generation of workers in modern times to see their lifetime earnings fall. So, while the baby boomers may have sacrificed professional fulfilment in favour of stability, they could rest assured that they would reap the rewards of their hard work later in life. The same cannot be said for millennials, however. In light of this uncertainty, is it any wonder that millennials are unwilling to settle to unsatisfying jobs when there is no guarantee of income security later in life?
The generation gap has had ripple effects on housing, with more than one in three millennials now living at home with their parents. Rising youth unemployment, university tuition fees and house prices have all been cited as contributors to this trend – causing more and more millennials to become part of “generation boomerang”. Yet, while the reality of owning a home has become increasingly impossible for the majority young people, the stigma of being a twenty-something living with their parents remains. Feelings of inadequacy, embarrassment and failure can contribute to millennials feeling unhappy, when the reality is that they are losers of a generational lottery. Living the gulf between expectations and reality, it is not surprising that Millennials are reporting the highest levels of clinical anxiety, stress, and depression than any other generation at the same age.
Chototel’s affordable renting model is catering to the demand from this cash-strapped generation who are looking for a space of their own. Chototel’s flexible renting model appeals to those who have to move where the work is, while our communal living spaces endeavours to combat the isolation that many of us feel when we arrive in a new city. The “tech-obsessed” stereotype of this generation has its benefits in terms of housing, too. Now that we can access all our favourite books, movies and music in one handheld device, we simply don’t need as much space. Convenience and cost-cutting are far more important to use than space, which makes compact housing an ideal housing model for millennials.
We need to stop blaming millennials for their own unhappiness. Ultimately, they crave the same things as their parents: security. Yet, from employment to housing – and even in their relationships – millennials can clutch onto far fewer certainties than generation X. Rather than condemning this generation as vain, lazy and narcissistic, we need to recognise that young people face legitimate challenges and should be given support, not criticism.