Why are people in their 20s and 30s renting instead of buying houses?

I often write on Quora.com, where I am the most viewed writer on financial matters, with over 283.2 million views in recent years.

In the answers below I focused on the following topics and issues:

  • Why are people in their 20s and 30s renting instead of buying houses? Is it purely for financial reasons, or perhaps the world has fundamentally changed?
  • What do you lose, and gain, financially when you work at home? Is working from home only a positive thing?
  • Does being modest and frugal simplify your life? I argue that frugality can make your life much easier.
  • Is there such a thing as “the best” European country for an expat couple in retirement? I assess the options, including some typical expat destinations in Southern Europe, alongside some up-and-coming places.
  • What are some ways to make money online apart from subscription models? What stops most people from earning a reasonable amount online?

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Why are people in their 20s and 30s renting instead of buying houses?

It depends on the country, and region within that country. It isn’t a trend that is happening everywhere.

In some countries, people still not only want to buy houses, but they are still buying them, often with parental support.

Look at the home ownership rates in some of these countries for example:

However, in some countries, the rate is lower, for two main reasons:

  1. Some people can’t afford to buy
  2. Some people who can afford to buy don’t want too.

The first point is obvious. The second point is less so. The main reason some people don’t want to buy a house are:

  • It can be cheaper in some places to rent. There are some cities where renting is super cheap compared to buying. If you go onto a comparison website like Numbeo, you can see that the rental yields are 1%-3% in some places.
  • You sometimes have less freedom when you buy. It isn’t as easy to move for a pay rise, or emigrate.
  • The world is changing, We no longer stay in the same places all our lives, and the world of work is also changing. With that being said, the work from home trend has resulted in some people wanting to work in a bigger space.
  • People have became more open-minded about different types of lifestyles and not just getting married at 30 and buying a house shortly thereafter.

We also have to remember that in some countries, like Germany and Switzerland, renting is part of the culture, in a much bigger way than the US, UK, Australia and most Asian societies.

In some countries, buying a big house is almost seen as the epitome of success!

That is one reason people have historically over-stretched themselves to buy.

What do you lose when you work from home?

You tend to lose:

You tend to lose:

  1. Structure. If you aren’t careful.
  2. A lack of clear dividing lines between home and work, especially if you don’t have a separate office area.
  3. Dress codes…..this could be a win though.
  4. Collaboration. This is especially harmful for younger workers. An experienced team can sometimes work better remotely. A younger worker might struggle as training is harder from afar.

You gain:

  1. Time. A lot of time in most cases, if the commute is long. Therefore, you can add sleep to this equation as well. You now have the ability to sleep in and work later if needed.
  2. Transparency. People can’t hide as easily in a remote environment. Those people who play office politics and seem to do well in big teams, suddenly do less well. it is almost like being back in university. People who need their hand held don’t do well studying subjects which require a lot of outside reading and work-from-home like history, politics or philosophy. Self-motivated people are well-suited to it.
  3. Sanity if you didn’t always like your work colleagues..
  4. Productivity. Once you learn how to do it.
  5. Safety during pandemic times.
  6. Freedom and flexibility – the ability to work globally. And therefore I would add opportunities. You can now change your residency to take advantage of lower taxes and/or cost of living, or for any other reason.
  7. The ability to see the bigger picture in an objective way. Many people, especially before the pandemic, assumed things. “Clients want to meet in-person”, or “the team prefers to meet in this way”. If you are forced to work from home, your assumptions get challenged.

The bottom line is this. I have met many people who don’t like to work from home.

I have seldom met anybody who doesn’t like having the choice to work from home.

Does being modest simplify your life?

It depends how you mean by modesty. According to the definition of modesty, it has two meanings:

  1. the quality or state of being unassuming in the estimation of one’s abilities (in other words humility).
  2. the quality of being relatively moderate, limited, or small in amount, rate, or level (this has a broader meaning. You can have modest spending habits, for example, and be anything but humble.

The first definition can simplify your life, but not always. Some people are only humble in public as they realise it makes them more popular, and causes fewer arguments.

It isn’t socially acceptable in many cultures to “put yourself out there”.

I am not sure this always simplifies your life though. Many older people regret not “putting themselves out there” and taking risks when they are old and on their death bed.

What are you more likely to regret at 92 on your deathbed? Being modest in your aspirations?

Or taking big risks to achieve bigger things? I think it is debatable.

I read this book a while ago. Quite sober reading:

The one commonalities I noticed was that the old people in the housing home regretted not caring enough about key people like friends and family, but also regretted caring too much about what other random people think.

So, if somebody is modest just to make other people happy, it is unlikely to simplify your life long-term. To the contrary, it might result in regret.

In terms of the second part of the question, I do think being modest in terms of things like spending simplifies your life.

I will give you a few examples. If you live in a smaller house, even if you can afford ten bedrooms, that is fewer roofs that can break, and less maintenance in general.

Likewise, many banks put daily limits on cards. That often means you need to call the bank to, or inform them via online banking, if you want to spend more than a certain amount.

One of my banks has a policy whereby you can’t spend more than $2,000 a day by ATM withdrawal or online purchases, regardless of your balance and ability to pay more, unless you call them up and get the restriction removed for 24 hours only.

A bit extreme perhaps, as some of my other banks don’t have a minimum set at that low rate.

The point is, this means that there is an incentive to keep spending, even on holiday, below that limit, otherwise you go through hassles.

I wish to move abroad. Which country is the best suit for the retirement of a European couple?

Of course it depends on several factors. I will assume that you aren’t from the EU.

If you were, visas would have to be a consideration, and non-EU European countries wouldn’t be as attractive.

Most retirees in Europe go to Southern Europe – Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and the South of France.

The best will depend on several factors. For cost, some parts of Spain, Greece and Portugal are probably best. For taxes, Portugal and Greece are also good.

For healthcare, these are the best European countries according to a recent survey:

Food and culture is a matter of personal preference of course.

Personally, I know Portugal is a good bet. Reasonable English level, cost of living and climate.

If you want something more off the beaten track, I would try Bulgaria on the Gold Coast.

It is more Mediterranean than you think, with excellent cost of living and they get private health tourists which shows the healthcares system isn’t bad……at least in the private sector.

It is up and coming. It might be adventurous today, but it probably won’t be in 2030.

I would also spend some time in each place, on a tourist visa once Covid-19 gets better (you can already come into many European countries), and see which places you prefer.

What are the ways open for a fairly good income from the internet? Are subscriptions and advertising revenue the only two ways to make money online?

Firstly, many jobs can be done online now. For example, if you are a graphic designer, you can use websites like Upwork and Freelancer.com.

If you are a teacher, you can earn money as an online teacher. You might not make a lot of money to begin with.

It might even make sense to accept small payments at first, and build up your reviews and reputation.

Yet plenty of people are making decent amounts of money going online. The same is true for higher-end professions like consulting and legal work.

If somebody can market themselves online, they can charge, either directly via e-commerce platforms or invoicing people.

What do most people do when they want an accountant or lawyer? They Google or ask the community.

Other options include

  1. Affiliate marketing. Essentially, not providing your own services, but getting paid from others.
  2. Advertising revenue if you get big on YouTube and some other platforms
  3. As you say, a subscription model. For example, you provide courses on Udeemy or use Patreon as a university lecturer, teacher or journalist.
  4. Amazon drop shipping and other programs they offer.

Honestly, the easiest way of all is to make money offline first. Get a job, get good at it, and then start an online business in that niche.

It is much easier to make money when you are specialised in the area, and have proven it already.

Online just adds fuel to the fire, as it is more scalable. There are billions of people online vs thousands (or at best millions) locally.

So, if somebody has made money offline, there is a reasonable chance they can eventually make more online.

The mistake many people make is assuming it will be easy. That is often because of some misleading ads online.

Many people want to work, or do business, remotely, especially after the virus and lockdowns.

Therefore, if it was easy, everybody would try to do it. So, if you are persistent, you have a better chance of success.

Pained by financial indecision? Want to invest with Adam?

Financial Planner - Adam Fayed

Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 283.2 million answers views on Quora.com and a widely sold book on Amazon

Further Reading 

In the article below, taken directly from my online Quora answers, I spoke about the following issues and subjects:

  • Is it really possible to increase your returns AND lower your risk? Most people think this sounds too good to be true, but I show one method that has always historically worked.
  • Why are “average” people worried about taking a risk compared to wealthier investors? Or is this idea a myth?
  • The Nasdaq and S&P500 hit another record high on Friday. What could explain this?
  • How can investors in developing markets like India, which may experience higher inflation rates, beat inflation safely by investing? 
  • What are some expenses that we no longer need to pay for?

To read more click on the link below.

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