Census figures released last month show that marriage rates are falling and mortgages are getting more expensive in Australia. Well, thank god for that.
That reaction might seem harsh, so let me explain.
I’m 27. That’s the closest I’ve ever been to 30.
The way my parents see it, that’s old enough to be married with kids and a mortgage. Or at least old enough to seriously want and start planning for those things.
For this reason, when it comes to all things grown-up – like buying a house and getting hitched – my parents and I have a long-running argument. Wait, argument is too strong a word. Let’s call it a misunderstanding. A clashing of generations, if you will.
According to my parents, and most other Australians born before the 1970s, owning a home is the great Australian dream. This goes hand in hand with marriage and a family.
By my age, my parents had been married for three years and my mum was pregnant with her first child (me). They had committed themselves to a mortgage and they owned two cars. They were also very much in love and were ready to grow old together.
Now, let’s compare that to my situation.
I live in a rented sharehouse on Lygon Street – one of Melbourne’s busiest central streets. I don’t own a house. I don’t own a car. I don’t even own all of the furniture in my bedroom. Hell, I don’t even own a pot plant!
Before moving to Melbourne six months ago, I was living in London. For two years almost every spare pound I earnt was spent on travel, music festivals, booze and eating out.
It’s pretty obvious that I’m not ready for the sort of commitment that comes with a mortgage and marriage.
I honestly don’t have a problem with my current situation. I lead an exciting life with my fantastic boyfriend and some really wonderful friends. I also have a sensible, steady job that keeps me afloat. The way I see it, life is pretty much perfect for me right now.
It’s just when Dad gently suggests, ‘Maybe you should save for a house’, or when Mum kindly reminds me, ‘Don’t leave it too late’ to tie the knot and pop out a couple of kids that I start comparing their experience to mine.
I’m quite excited by these new Census results because they give me some very credible arguing power for the next time these sensitive topics pop up.
It proves what I’ve been trying to tell them for years: Australia is changing. Buying a house is no longer the only holy grail. Whether that’s due to crazy house prices or not is a whole other story. And as for marriage, it’s not as important as it was 30, 20 or even 10 years ago.
I don’t frown upon my friends who have bought houses and got married or had kids. And I’m definitely not saying I don’t want to do the same one day. I do, I really do. I (and my parents) just need to wait until the time is right.