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!

It's quiet

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]

Let the awesome come to you. Give me your email and I’ll give you all my new posts -- win, win!


  1. Haha, I’m a broke millennial too, a nillionaire. I can’t even dream about owning a home with as much student loan debt as I have, so obviously I rent.

    • Nillionaire? That’s hilarious! I value my freedom too much for home ownership just yet. And I have a buttload of debt, of course!

  2. I am just barely in Generation X, which is the coolest name and makes me feel like I should have mutant powers or something. I own a home free and clear. Of course I went a route many people don’t take and purchased my grandmother’s house after she passed away. We are now raising the 4th generation of our family in that house and no other family has lived there.

    Why is Erin awesome? Hmmm… she seems like a pretty hip lady and I like the way she is matter of fact with her opinion (oh and I appreciate the salty language it adds a little flavour into the usually dry PF world).

  3. Thanks for clarifying my handle doesn’t make you vomit! 😛

    Really good idea interviewing your parents to break down the boomer vs. millennial mentality! It’s an interesting study.

  4. I’m at the earlier end of the Millenials (1980) and I really don’t consider myself to be in the millenial generation except maybe the debt aspect (i.e. huge student loans).

    I do live in a city where houses are stupid expensive (Toronto, Canada) so I don’t own a house, yet. However, we are in the process of saving for one and may buy before the end of the year. I agree with your ‘rents that not being house poor is important and you have to take into consideration all costs, not just mortgage payments.

    You are awesome because you have a great sense of humour, and it totally comes out in your writing. Also, you’re a natural redhead so I’m extremely jealous ;P

    Great post!

    • I was born at the very end of the 80s and I still don’t like being lumped in the Millennial group. It’s too broad.

      Ooo, very exciting! Are you guys trying to save up a full 20% for the down payment?

      Thanks, Morgaine :).

  5. I’m the early 70’s child. I bought a condo at someone else’s urging. Sometimes, the baby boomers think they are giving you the best advice and you really think they are. Sadly, I should have went with my gut. I wanted to rent a small apartment instead, I bought one (I try really hard not to be angry at dad and the other baby boomers that though I needed to by).

    Advantages, I get to paint it and put my favorite flooring in (when and if I can ever afford it). Cheap living. Not a whole lot to fix. Biggest fear is the HVac system. One day, I’ll own it. Did I mention it’s a cheap place to live and convenient to shopping, work, major hwy’s and the commuter bus if you work in DC.

    Disadvantages – Essentially, we’re stuck here. Property values have dropped well below what I owe and that’s been the case with a lot of the folks that own units here and they are renting out their units and now selling is a crap shoot. Lenders do not like lending in a community where rentals out number owner lived in by almost 70%. FHA funding is not an option here.

    On the bright side, next year if the plan works or the following year, we will rent out the condo and turn it into an investment property and rent somewhere else. Pay off the remaining loan balance on my 30 year conventional as quickly as possible (already have 8 years in and 20% down which is a loss). The units in here rent pretty quickly but turn over is high depending on the size of your unit. Doing the math, the average person/couple stays 1 to 3 years in a 1 bedroom and that’s from getting to know neighbors and making mental notes.

    Do I plan to buy again? Not in the near future. I’d like to save for my retirement space and pay cash. Probably in another state.

  6. Wait, so I’m a millennial now? I keep getting lost in these definitions… I was born in 1980…

    • If we’re using the definition of those born in the late 70s to the early 80s, I think a lot of millennials bought pre-crash just because everyone was and because it was so easy. I bought my first a month after I turned 24. I think buying as a young person now is weird because we move around so much, which is why I’ve always bought with plans to rent out after vacating.

    • Apparently. I was surprised at the range as well.


  1. […] Mom and I hit the road right after my last day. From what I understand her friend lives in BFE, NC (big surprise!) about an hour away from the Outer Banks. I plan on dragging Mom around as much as possible because […]

  2. […] possible on the new home you’re thinking of buying. Of course, you should also weigh what is important for your family when it comes to a […]

Speak Your Mind