A good friend of mine told me about her grown up daughter who is currently house-sharing. She's in her early twenties and not altogether happy at having to share a house with someone in order to halve the costs. She wants her own place. A nice three-bedroom detached house in an up and coming area with all the mod-cons; brand new furniture, quality carpets, new kitchen, new bathroom - everything you'd expect to have if you'd worked hard to achieve it. Just like my friend has done. Just like I have done. And just like you have done.
My friend said, "She doesn't seem to understand that we have a nice house in a good area with quality furnishings and en-suite bathrooms because we've spent twenty-plus years working hard for it. She thinks it'll just come once you've left home. She wants all the things we have now. And she wants them now."
My mum and dad started married life with hardly a penny to their name. My dad was a 'tea-boy' (a fetcher and carrier for those of you who don't know what a tea-boy is) and he worked bloody damned hard to achieve what he did in his short life. His last fifteen years of life were spent building up his own business. We called him JR, not because he was ruthless but because no one dared cross him. His employees respected him, looked up to him, admired him. He kept men and women in a job because they wanted to work. Many of his employees started at the bottom, like he did in the 1960s, and they worked their way up the ladder, achieving promotion and being respected and admired in return.
When I look back at what I had when I left the nest in 1990, it wasn't very much. My dad was in a position to help me out financially and he did, making my life that little bit easier. I moved away to start a new life with my first husband - we got a mortgage on a one-bedroom flat, bought some nice furniture, and between both sets of parents we managed to make our new pad a home.
I didn't expect to have the beautiful 1930s detached house that my mum and dad had then; I didn't expect to have all the fancy Bang & Olufsen technology or the Priory furniture. Their en-suite bathroom was bigger than our flat's bathroom, but that didn't matter. We knew we could never have afforded a house, let alone with an en-suite.
Do young people today expect to move into a plush residence like their parents have? Have their expectations changed to such an extent that the first rung on the ladder will no longer suffice?