We have decided, after some debate, that “Millennial Towers” is the right name for our new apartment building. Why? Well, there are two Towers (I guess 14 stories qualifies as a Tower, right?), and they are both full of Millennials. Plus it sounds rather grand.
I won’t generalize about Millennials, for two reasons: generalizations about arbitrary age-based groups of people don’t really hold water in the end, and more importantly it makes me sound like a cane-waving geezer. (Oh, look, an age-based generalization! This is going to be tricky.) However I can make some assertions about the occupants of Millennial Towers, based on our observations of them at close range since we moved in in April:
- They do a lot of grilling, even when it’s freezing cold outside.
- They all have dogs. Not the kind you grill, the kind you have to take for a walk, even when it’s freezing cold outside.
- The ones who don’t have a ton of money (Millennial Towers has some affordable housing set-asides) are much more interesting and pleasant than the ones who do.
Wow, this post is just going to keep drifting into unsupportable generalizations, isn’t it… Let me just qualify the third point a bit by saying that we’ve met a few people who live in Millennial Towers who also frequent the “Sky Deck,” as we do, and the ones we would want to talk to again are in occupations (ballet, social work) that can’t possibly pay enough to cover the astronomical rent. More about that rent thing in another blog…
Our choice to live in an apartment building that strongly resembles a hotel (and in fact has some corporate housing units that can be rented like hotel rooms) might seem a bit odd, but it’s kind of perfect for us. We are both super-busy and don’t really want to spend time on home ownership, we don’t really intend to stay in Boston for the long term, and we like the Amenities. The Sky Lounge, the Sky Deck, the Pool Deck, the Mezzanine, the Bike Storage — these are all lovely things that we can enjoy without having to maintain them or worry about them. It turns out that Things you have to Maintain and Worry About take a much greater toll than I ever expect them to… so the fewer the better.
One thing I do find strange though is that when Kim and I were the age that most of the Millennial Towers residents seem to be today, we were up to our armpits in Home Ownership. We bought our first house in our twenties and spent a ton of effort decorating it, caring for it, worrying about it, and so on. We had some family help acquiring it, but it wasn’t financially out of reach for us to keep up. Maybe most importantly, we learned a lot of lessons, some more painful than others, about what it is like to own a house and property, what you get out of it, what kind of toll it takes on you, and so on. I, for example, learned that I never ever want to own anyplace with a yard. Like seriously what a waste of effort…
Anyway from what I understand the residents of Millennial Towers, through no fault of their own, are entirely priced out of this experience. Some combination of student loans and skyrocketing housing prices has pushed the price of even a modest home in a barely acceptable neighborhood out of reach for most people in their twenties or even their thirties. This seems unjust — although I don’t subscribe to the theory that home ownership is the backbone of our society, I do think it should be a reasonable option for young-ish people who are interested in it, not a crazy dream to be put off until middle age.
I suppose all this will resolve itself at some point — we will finally build enough housing where people want it that the price will start coming down again, or cities will figure out ways to provide reasonable commuting times from less-expensive areas, or both. In the meantime though I will continue to observe the quirks of the Millennial Towers residents. We have decided that the collective noun for them should be a Scene of Millennials, because that is what you have when three or more of them assemble. (I first thought a Situation of Millennials would work, but that’s way too Gen-X-ish…)
A note: I apologize sincerely for the long hiatus here — I fell off the wagon when we moved in April and it has taken me this long to climb back on. I still would like to post every day, but I may need to set a less lofty goal for the next few months. I am flattered that a few of you noticed my absence!
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