ASK MYRNA: THAT MILLENNIAL LIFE
Our resident advice columnist, Myrna Joy offers the Heauxs' perspective on all your nagging problems. Send her your questions—large or small, inane or petty, or inane and petty—to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m a millennial living the Classic Millennial Lifestyle (™). You know, the one where you go to college pre-recession, graduate post-recession, move back home to live with your parents until one day you land not only an interview (here you go again!) but also a full-time job (hallelujah!) with a regular enough paycheck you can cover rent on your very own apartment, that you share (that paycheck doesn’t pay for a place of your own!) with a college acquaintance and her high school friend.
This lifestyle is a classic for a reason, and I’ve really enjoyed it for the past three years. My college acquaintance has turned into an adult friend, and we’ve replaced her high school friend with a Craigslist random who is mostly harmless, if terrible at choosing boyfriends. But I can’t help feeling this situation has run its course. Myrna, I’m ready for my own apartment, one I don’t share. I want to be able to have it as clean, or not clean, as I want. I don’t want to open the fridge to discover my roommate’s juice fast didn’t work out, and now all the kale is wilting. I’d like to take my work pants off as soon as I walk in my door, and not replace them with anything.
Unfortunately, my pros boil down to “yay underwear!” while my cons boil down to “waste of money,” “have to pack boxes and then move those boxes,” and “what if I lose my job and can’t afford my apartment anymore and have to move back home.” It seems reckless to rent my own place, like buying avocado toast on a Texas toast budget. And yet, there’s that itch, and I’m not sure I can scratch it any other way than getting my own place.
Myrna, what’s a Classic Millennial to do?
I’ll Take the Avocado Toast, Please
Dear Toast, Please,
Yay! Underwear! There is seriously nothing better than opening the door to your own little apartment, with that thrift store velour La-Z-Boy in the corner and the light from a Target lamp reflecting on your Sip ’n’ Paint artwork--and immediately taking off your work pants. Which is to say, buy the avocado toast. Move out.
In my experience, it only takes one pro in the “move” column to make it worth the risk. And for you, it barely even registers as risk. You said it yourself: The worst that can happen is you find yourself unable to pay rent, through job loss or otherwise, and you move home. You’ve lived at home before, and from the way you quickly glossed over the experience, I’m guessing there was minimal monetary cost and little-to-no emotional cost. You’re extremely lucky to have this kind of familial support, and instead of viewing the possibility of having your parents cook your dinner every night while you sleep in your childhood room as a shameful setback, see it for what it is: a privilege that enables you to achieve goals (like that full-time job you waited out, or your own apartment now) that others, with fewer resources, would love to pursue themselves.
So, it’s time for your own place. It’s especially time if you’re planning on continuing on the Classic Millennial Life Path (also ™), where next comes love, then marriage, then that baby in the baby carriage. Note that I’m not advocating for the CMLP(™). In fact, I urge you to jump off at any point. But you should at least take the CMLP(™) into account, because if you do stay the path, you won’t be able to live in your own place in the very near future. Even if you find your life taking a less classic millennial turn, you may very well take on responsibilities--like elder care, for instance--that limit your ability to choose where you live. Today, you have the opportunity to give yourself not only physical space, but mental space, that belongs to you and you alone. That’s another point of privilege that you shouldn’t overlook.
It’s good to weigh the risks of a decision, to consider what the limits of your pocketbook and your lifestyle are when making decisions. It’s even better to know those limits, and push just past them, to a future where you don’t know quite what’s next, or how you’ll even necessarily make it work. When, on top of that, you’ve been handed the good fortune of a financial and emotional safety net, it’s almost your obligation to push those limits.
Today, you just have a feeling about this place of your own, an itch, a vision of a sun-filled kitchen with a clean countertop for you to prepare your own meals, no juice fasts allowed. You also have a network of friends and family who will support you if you find you can no longer afford your own countertops. Take advantage of that. Scratch the itch.
Drink margs, not juice,
My wife and I have decided to upgrade from Ikea furniture. We’re doing it slowly, buying lots of used pieces that fit our style and stretch our budget. The thing we really need is a couch, though. Right now we have a multi-year-old Sandbacken, and while it is very comfortable for its price point, that’s about the best thing I can say about it. So, we’ve started researching couches, swapping links and styles and ideas about whether it’s necessary to have a pull-out couch for guests … and, Myrna, my question is this:
Did you know that couches frequently cost $2,000?!?!?!?
Couch Poor, Sticker Shocked
First, please don’t share your newly discovered couch cost knowledge with Avocado Toast up there. She’s not ready.
Second, I know! Sofa prices are absurd, and while I now am grateful I own a grown-up couch, I’m pretty sure I cried after the sales associated swiped my credit card. So far as I can tell, couch prices are like the price of oil: Set by a cartel that knows we’re all too attached to the convenience to refuse payment.
That being said, you could say no to the sofa expense if you’d rather spend that $1,000+ elsewhere, but have you seen Adrienne’s new green velvet couch? That couch is worth it.
Go velvet or go home,