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Real Estate

Buying a Home: Boomers vs. Millennials

The word “millennial” gives me the icks.* I’m not really a fan of being lumped in with those born in the 2000s. I feel like 80s and 90s kids should have gotten their own generation. After all, we didn’t have cell phones at the age of 4 but we had better TV and music and worse clothes. I feel like we deserve recognition for that.

Regardless, the millennial generation is my birth right. And like many Millennials, I have Baby Boomer parents. In case you haven’t taken a basic marketing class, I will give you a basic rundown of both generations.


– born in late 70s/early 80s to early 2000s

– narcissitic/entitled

– want crazy things like work/life balance

– good at everything (and if they aren’t, give them a medal anyway so you don’t hurt their self-esteem)

Baby Boomers

– born between 1946-1964

– think they are going to live forever and pretend they aren’t aging

– prioritize work above all else

– competitive and focused on rank & hierarchy (aka participation awards need not apply)

That’s the basic gist of it.

Besides being obnoxious in different ways, Boomers and Millennials tend to have different thoughts about home ownership. While I can’t imagine owning a home in my 20s, both my parents craved home ownership at young ages. After all, the American Dream isn’t complete without a white picket fence. I decided to interview my parents about purchasing a home to find out (a) why they chose to purchase homes, (b) what they did wrong the first time around, and (c) whether or not they still thought home ownership was a good idea for 20-somethings today.

As an introduction, my parents are pretty freaking awesome. They are also psychotic, as they both live like 30 miles from civilization. And no, Mom, the local ice cream joint does not count as civilization! But I love them dearly and I even trek out to BFE to visit each of them from time to time. That’s how awesome they are, I am willing to be like an hour away from the nearest Starbucks to visit!

So without further ado, my interview with the ‘rents.

Welcome to Red Debted Stepchild, Mom & Dad! I apologize for the ass comments and swearing.

How old were you when you purchased your first home?

M: 20

D: 28

And how much did it cost?

M: $13,000

D: $23,000

Why did you choose to purchase a home?

M: Got married, people just did that back then. There weren’t really rental options anyways.

D: I wanted to have my own home and land that my daughter could play in. (That’s me!)

Why did you want to own as opposed to renting?

M: As an investment, I didn’t want to throw money away on rent.

D: I just wanted to have a place to call my own and to make my own.

What mistakes did you make when purchasing your first home?

M & D: Not taking into account maintenance costs.

(On a related note: the big plastic thing on the bottom of my dishwasher snapped off and melted around the metal thing. Thank god for renting — not just for maintenance costs, but also so I don’t have to learn dishwasher terminology!)

If you were in your early twenties in 2013, would you still purchase a home young?

M: No, the American dream has changed!

D: Yes, it gives you security and a place to call your own!

Did you view your first home as an investment? Or was it more of a sentimental thing?

M: Both. I liked the idea of having “roots” to start a marriage.

D: I just wanted a cheap place, but it became more of a sentimental thing as I worked on it.

Do you view your current home as an investment?

M: No, it’s all about comfort and stability.

D: Not really I just love my house, love where I live, and feel secure going home there every day.

What do you like most about owning your own home?

M: I can decorate however I want. I HATE white walls.

(She really does. Someday, when I own my own place, I’m going to keep all the walls white just for entertainment purposes every time she comes over.)

D: When I pay it off, no one can take it from me. I can do what I want there.

What do you like least about owning your own home?

M & D: Repair costs!

Do you see renting as a possibility in your future?

M: Yes, on a part time basis during the winter months. I like the idea of a stable home and the flexibility of leaving it for awhile.

D: Never unless I have to. I like having my own place too much.

(Maybe we should discuss my plans of putting you in a home, Dad…)

What advice would you give young people looking to purchase their first home?

M: Don’t be house poor! Buy what you can afford NOT what you qualify for. If that means a small space, enjoy the closeness it provides.

D: Make a list of what you want and don’t want in a home. If you plan on staying for awhile, get a good inspection and legal advice.

What do you think is the #1 thing people overlook when purchasing a first home?

M: Maintenance costs. Also, you need to visit the neighborhood at all times of the day to make sure you don’t have psycho neighbors.

D: Whether or not they can afford it. Don’t forget to add in upkeep and maintenance expenses! And just don’t buy something you really can’t afford.

Why do you think home ownership is important in general?

M: It’s a place to end the day with your family.

D: It’s more important as you get older. It’s nice to have a bought and paid for place when your income is fixed.

And most importantly, what makes Erin so awesome?

M: She has a strong sense of self. She is loving and fun and witty and willing to expand her world. And as much as she pretends not to care about things and people in general, she is trying to help in a small way by reaching out and sharing experiences. She makes me proud.

D: She is my single greatest joy in life and I am very proud of all she has accomplished. And I love her very much.

Aw, shucks!

Your turn! Which generation are you in? Do you own or rent? Why? And more importantly, why do YOU think Erin is so awesome?

*But I still love Erin over at Broke Millennial!

[Image from BuzzFeed]

Photo of author

Erin Thompson

Erin Thompson spent years managing her own blog about budgeting and debt. Because of that, she has great insights not only about managing spending and borrowing but also about running websites profitably. When she's not writing articles for us, she's traveling and looking for new types of wines to try.
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