Chasing the American Dream

The striking reality of the modern world has struck Generation Z stronger than recent past generations. The impact of worsening economic situations are burdening the youth with a bleak outlook on their future. Where Generation X and Baby Boomers had vast opportunities for social mobility and success, Gen Z finds themselves stuck at a crossroad. As the price of education and standard of living increases drastically, more and more people are feeling lost and demoralized. Gen Z is feeling academically lost, unable to decide on a major and career while dreading their uncertain future.

The median, average home in 1980 cost $47,200, this affordable pricing has increase 150 percent with the typical home in 2019 reaching $313,000 (Martin, Candiloro). With the average college graduate earning around $55,260, it is near impossible for young graduates to own property. It is no longer as easy as smart spending and saving money when the housing prices increase so rapidly, in Florida, home values have risen 11.1% over the past year (Norada Real Estate Investments). The youth do not have the time or resources to catch up to the incredibly fast-moving market. This realization makes Gen Z wonder if they will ever be able to afford the same housing their parents did. Leo Flores, a twenty-one year old undergraduate feels, “I definitely don’t think we have nearly the same opportunities and housing as the people in the past. We just don’t live in the time they did to have the opportunities they did.” Gen Z may be the first generation to not be able to reach the same economic prosperity their parents did. Even Millennials are currently living through the economic struggle. Twenty-nine-year-old Millennial, Rebecca Ayala started looking for a home in October 2021, a year and a half ago. Ayala graduated from the University of Tampa and received a bachelor’s in economics in 2018. Ayala and her husband were townhouse seeking in the Wesley Chapel, Lutz area. Ayala says, “Everything on the market was like $400,000, the worst part was that they were selling for far more than listing so we decided on new construction.” Between the time Ayala put her name on a waitlist for possible buyers, four months passed. Ayala states, “It took four months before we were told which lot was ours and how much it would be. While we were waiting, the price went up $10,000 in that time.” Ayala just closed on a townhome in Lutz this month. Ayala feels lucky and fortunate for being able to find a home and relates to the frustration young people are feeling when house searching.

On the other hand, lots of Gen X adults feel every young person has had to go through the same adversities young people now are facing. Mrs. Dorkowsky, a Gen X teacher at WCHS, believes the financial challenges Gen Z and Millennials are currently facing is not unique to them and in fact, a part of growing up and facing adulthood. Dorkowsky gave insight to her financial struggles at a young adult, stating that it took her multiple tries of living on her own and moving back home before she was able to successfully living on her own with her husband. Dorkowsky also imputs that “young people need to lower their expectations to something realistic, you know, you’re not going to move straight into a mansion. You got to start low and work your way up. That’s how everyone starts.” Dorkowsky feels if young adults save and go for the most affordable options, their financial struggles will be limited. Another Gen X teacher, Mr. Raskoff, shares with PawPrints his family’s financial situation growing up. Raskoff informs that his family lived paycheck to paycheck for the majority of his life and his family was able to purchase a home of their own in 1991. Raskoff details the journey of his mother becoming a homeowner as extremely challenging and long. Raskoff believes that young people are feeling financial pressures; however, they are not completely crushing or inescapable. Raskoff holds a similar perspective to Dorkowsky and believes saving and buying responsibly is the solution young adults can implement right now to alleviate their financial stress.

Moreover, college students are facing increasingly higher tuition rates. US News has found that “[i]n-state tuition fees at public National Universities have grown the most, increasing 175%.” A college degree is more valuable than ever to earn a living wage; however, the cost of tuition is making receiving a college education overly challenging. The past generations had significantly lower tuition rates. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “the 1970-71 academic year, the average in-state tuition and fees for one year at a public non-profit university was $394.” This is stark contrast to tuition in the past two years. In 2020-21, tuition and fees at public non-profit institutions were $9,400, 10 percent higher than the previous school year. These tumultuous fees and tuition make it nearly impossible for the working class to afford higher education. Most students find themselves burying themselves into student debt to afford post-secondary education. Education Data Initiative states, “38.3 million people with student load debt outstanding owe repayment for an undergraduate education.”

To add, housing is increasingly challenging to accommodate for when unemployment rates are through the roof. According to Statistica, “In December 2022, about 38.1 percent of recent college graduates were underemployed in the United States. This was a small decrease from June, when about 41 percent of recent college grads were underemployed.” The job market is simply too oversaturated, and it is becoming increasing challenging to find employment, even with a college degree. This is demoralizing for college graduates who spent four or more years in college to ensure employment. Statistica states, “about 10.9 percent of recent college graduates were working in low wage jobs in the United States.” Additionally, the final cost of tuition is so crushing, most graduates cannot get involved with housing loans. Graduates are ending up in low paying jobs which means they cannot pay off their debt which then holds them back from becoming homeowners. This cycle is ongoing and describes the situation millions of graduates find themselves in. The constant financial stress young people are facing has put them into a rut where they feel demoralized about their future. According to American Psychology Association, 69 percent of Americans reported that the nation’s future causes them stress. This was a significant increase from the 63 percent who said the same in 2017.


Florida Housing Market Predictions 2024 & Next 5 Years: Will it Crash?