Why Millennials Aren’t Buying Homes, But We Are Buying Plane Tickets


You know we’re killing homeownership with our travel impulses, right?

Millennials aren’t buying houses at the rate of our parents and older generations are shook. We are obsessed with travel, and no one can seem to figure out why we’re spending money on vacations and not saving up for a permanent home. But it’s not such a mystery to us city-dwelling millennials, looking hard at the housing market and dreaming of filling our passports with stamps.

The Cost

The big home-buying deal-breaker for a lot of millennials is the hefty down payment. Research from real estate company ABODO suggests it would take most millennials 15 years to save enough to afford a downpayment. That’s in a reasonable housing market, like Pittsburgh or Des Moines. Around NYC and the Bay Area, the average is more than 20 years.

So every month, let’s say you’ve got student loans, rent, utility bills, everyday expenses and a little bit extra. And when you’re looking at decades of saving for a house or booking a plane ticket now, how do you spend your little bit of disposable income?

Almost half of us say adventure. According to a 2016 Airbnb survey, 47 percent of U.S. millennials say saving for travel is more important than purchasing a home. We want to spend our money on hiking Macchu Picchu, brunching in Paris and bonding with elephants in Thailand.

The Value

I don’t have to sell you on why travel is the best and crucial to our wellbeing; we’re the wanderlust generation. We’ve pioneered an entire Instagram industry from our love of scrolling through photos of people trekking to places we’d love to see.

Our bucket lists are long, but we actually make it to those dream locations. Millennials are 23 percent more likely to travel abroad than the older generations. We’re comfortable moving through different cultures around the world. Traveling makes us feel independent, confident and happy.

You can’t truly put stats on the value of seeing the world, but the science is clear. Paying for experiences makes you happier than buying material things. We value memories of exploring far-off places (and the accompanying blockbuster travel stories) more than stuff. Even better, research shows that your post-vacation glow lasts long after your tan has faded.

The Commitment

Although we’ll eagerly accept the continuing benefits of travel, long-term planning isn’t as high on our lists. An apartment lease is a one-year obligation. And since millennials are putting off traditional commitments like marriage and children, it’s not super surprising we also shy away from the permanence of buying a home.

Last spring, a Mayflower moving company survey defined a population of millennials as “vacation movers,” young people moving to a city without intending to stay there forever. The company found that more than half of 18 to 35-year-olds say they’d probably make this kind of move in the next five years.

With that mindset, it’s hard to justify tackling the terrifying financial commitment of buying property. So a house? Nah, we’ll have our vacations and eat our avocado toast too.