4 MIN READ
It’s a well known fact that most millennials are broke as all get out. We’re so broke that the idea of daily brunches of avocado toast or multiple bachelor/bachelorette parties per year being what’s responsible for keeping us from home ownership is utterly laughable. If some billionaire thinks I can spend $20 a day on smashed avocado, he’s not just out of touch—he’s out of his mind.
Thanks to the recession, gentrification, and stagnating wages, poverty is on the rise in the U.S.. And millennials are having a particularly tough time of it. Massive student loan debt means the bulk of my generation can’t save enough money for a down payment on a home. Even if we could, there are few starter homes available and housing prices are skyrocketing.
Most of us are stuck renting, but that’s not much better. Though renting may seem less costly up front, rising rents are making it harder and harder to stay in one place. So where does that leave us? Option-less, and potentially homeless?
Not necessarily. If you're willing to make due with a less traditional home, there are some options available that us millennials may be actually be able to afford.
Tiny homes are not only adorable and eco-friendly, they’re quite a bit cheaper than traditional full-sized homes. If you’re ambitious and willing to learn a thing or two about building, you can build your own tiny home for next to nothing.
If you’re more like me and can’t tell one end of a hammer from the other, you can hire a company to do it for you. Tiny homes range typically in price from $20,000 to $100,000, depending on size, indoor furnishings, and amenities.
It’s important to note that it can be slightly difficult to get a loan for a tiny home, as they’re currently considered to be more like RVs than actual homes. Fortunately, many tiny home manufacturers offer financing, and more and more companies are popping up each year that extend specialty loans for tiny homes.
Speaking of RVs, if you’ve ever wanted to live life on the road, look no further than your local RV dealer. Living in an RV allows the freedom to travel the country without leaving home behind. Most modern RVs are equipped with solar power, flat screen televisions, and wi-fi, allowing millennials to work while on the move. Depending on how big it is and what features you want, an RV can cost between $10,000 and $300,000. Obviously it’s best to choose one that will have a payment (or mortgage, if you will) that you can actually afford.
Besides your monthly RV payment, make room in your budget for parking, maintenance, and a whole lot of fuel (seriously, these things are gas guzzlers.) Also, there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to driving RVs, so be ready to make some mistakes.
If asphalt isn’t your thing, consider a home that floats! Houseboats, like traditional homes, can vary wildly in price (some cost millions). However, you can find decent houseboats that range in price between $20,000 -160,000, much like a tiny home. In a houseboat, water and electricity are most often obtained by hookups at the docks, similar to an RV. Heating comes from furnaces, electric heaters, or propane.
Living on a houseboat is akin to living in an RV. You’ll need to plan for slip fees (which can be exorbitant depending on where where you’re docked) as well as regular maintenance. If you’re docked in an area where winters are harsh, be ready to spend a lot of time and money prepping your home for the inclement weather.
Shipping containers can make for some visually interesting and surprisingly affordable homes. The shipping container itself will cost between $1800 to $5000, but construction costs can add up quickly if you’re not careful. Welding and proper insulation in particular can be expensive, so plan accordingly. The most important thing to do is to check building codes wherever you’re living as shipping containers aren’t legal in every municipality.
Startups around the country are starting a new wave of co-living—one where community is key. If you’re looking to meet new people and beat high rent, co-housing may be the solution. These shared suites are often paired with concierge-like services such as housekeeping, meal prep, and planned social events.
This living situation isn’t for everyone though. If you’re particularly introverted, or just not into sharing a kitchen and bathroom, it may not be your cup of tea.
As unfortunate as it is, it’s most likely going to be a few decades before the economy evens out, home prices drop, and wages become livable. Until then, us millennials are going to be forced to make our homes in places our parents would never have imagined for us. The “American Dream” isn’t quite what it used to be, but if we stay optimistic, we may just forge our own paths to happiness.
About the Author
Liz Greene is a makeup loving, dog hugging, anxiety-ridden realist from the gorgeous City of Trees, Boise, Idaho. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene or catch her latest misadventures on her blog, Instant Lo.