Failure to Launch Part I: Rising Rent Prices

Suitcases

Part one of a three-part series about the impact of Ireland’s rising rent and house prices for Irish millienials. Next week’s piece will include an interview with a mother and her adult child about their experiences living together.

Within the space of a single generation Ireland has gone from a nation of independent homeowners, to renters and hangers-on living in the childhood bedroom of their parent’s abode. A confluence of factors brought us here, from the global economic downturn and nefarious banking practises, to lack of new properties and soaring prices in the rental and housing markets. For the millennials and baby-boomers that have found themselves elbowed off Ireland’s property ladder, it is of cold comfort to know that their shared ill fate is not through a fault of their own. Itching to vacate the family home, their dreams of freedom either had to be postponed, or the more favoured option, realised beyond Irish shores. Those that stayed behind were forced to stay with their parents or fork over half their salary on rent, a hefty price tag for the taste of independence.

Irish parents have graciously played a huge (and often overlooked) role shouldering the burden of the government’s ineptitude to curb errant landlords or increase the housing supply. As shown by the rise in homelessness those who have a place to stay are still the lucky ones, but living with your parents in your early to mid twenties is far from an ideal situation. To begin with there’s the unnatural pairing of a couple in their fifties co-habiting with housemates half their age. Familial ties aside, the lifestyle choices and unsociable hours of a person straight out of college is going to rub any parent the wrong way. Manoeuvring these obstacles demands compromise on both sides, but this compromise implies sacrifices that neither party should be forced to make. As you enter into the full bloom of adulthood it becomes increasingly important to have a physical space of your own; a space to organise as you please, for inviting lovers and friends, a space for experimenting, being completely yourself, and stepping out of your parents’ shadow.

Child-parents relationships are perpetually reductive in the sense that we are always bound to our childhood and our role as children in the company of our parents. While they may shower us with endless love and hot meals, at some very basic level it is unhealthy to live with your parents past a certain age. Living under your parent’s roof means adhering to their rules (‘My roof, my rules’, is a refrain every child has had retorted to them at least once during a family argument), a completely fair expectation considering it is their home first and foremost. However these limitations inhibit us from forging our own path and closes us off from parts of ourselves. It is only when we leave the parental sphere that we gain the necessary space to stir up latent pools of our personality, revealing internal avenues unbeknownst even to ourselves.

While for some the noise made by millennials may seem like much ado about nothing, the dawning realisation that buying our own home or even renting an apartment would be immensely challenging registered itself as a deep loss for most of our generation. We watched with a mixture of bitterness and resentment as the carefree, youthful interlude of salaried jobs, minimum responsibilities and a place of our own before the onslaught of mortgages and babies, shrank into nothingness, meanwhile the return of our parents’ investments, the houses we occupied but did not own, multiplied in value under our very feet.

No one could have anticipated that the housing crisis would get as out of hand as it did, nor the pain it would inflict on our small island. Admittedly there is a distinctly bourgeois tone to this article considering the 9,968 people who are homeless, 3,811 of whom are children according to the latest figures by Focus Ireland. Still there is a growing discontentment amongst the Irish youths, who are voting with their feet and streaming out of the country in their hoards. Making Ireland feel like home is harder than ever.

An Irish Millennial’s Reaction to President Trump: I’m Scared

I woke up this morning to a stream of news notifications flashing on my phone, each bringing me closer to the reality that has come to pass: Donald Trump is president.

The running joke that has been the US Presidential elections has come to a close. Like a tightly wound Jack-in-the-box everyone was taken by surprise when the grinning clown sprung up, including those pushing the handle.

I’m not going to lie, the teeniest tiniest bit of me wanted Trump to win just to see what happened. Not because I actually wanted Trump to win but out of morbid curiosity, like a child sticking their hand in the fire.

My all-female friend Whatsapp group was buzzing this fateful morning. Needless to say, everyone was terrified. Friends based in New York reported multiple instances of people crying. They had friends so petrified by the result they couldn’t eat.

From my position in Ireland I have seen most of the election through the lens of parody, reality TV gone wrong. Oh crazy ‘ol America, there she goes again. She’ll get it together in the end. They’ll vote Clinton and we’ll tell our kids about the time a tangerine tycoon was nearly president.

This Can’t be Real

It was easy to pretend things weren’t really so bad when you get all your information through the media. America has always possessed a surreal quality, an extremity so cartoonish and at odds with Ireland it didn’t seem real.

The election and its build up fed this perception even further. To think that this hated-filled, licentious character, wholly unprepared for the role of President was ever a viable candidate was shocking in itself.

Trump’s escalation to power as he usurped his numerous challengers with ease elicited the correct responses: disbelief and dismay. But the sorry affair was treated with the levity of a TV show. With facetious SNL caricatures, sensationalist articles and comic debates dominating the media, the line between parody and reality became blurred.

Conversations became dominated by superlatives and words soon lost their meaning. Revelations of sexual assault and rape charges were almost expected. The ‘October surprise’ became a daily affair. ‘Unprecedented’ was the buzz-word of the campaign.Amid the complacency of the political elite Trump lay his insidious seed and paved his way to the White House.

6,500 km away with no voting power I could only watch on the sidelines as the nastiness unfolded.

America’s Saving Grace

Although Hilary Clinton was easily the better candidate there was an indelible question mark hanging over her. Amid smear campaigns and a continuous barrage of corruption allegations, it became hard to decipher the truth. By virtue of her womanhood she faced unjust scrutiny and her character was tarnished. But where prejudice ended and her character began became a difficult line to decipher.

This is the saving grace for Americans. You were lied to, toyed with, your fears and emotions played upon. This is the source of my compassion for Trump voters.

While the election evidenced the sorry state of American politics, I was always sure that Hillary would win. The frustration of Americans may have unleashed itself in a torrent misogynistic, bigoted and racist abuse far worse than previously imagined, but the circus act had to end somewhere. ‘President Trump’ seemed such a fictitious character he simply didn’t hold in our minds as a person of truth.

Visceral Fear

When I read the victory announcement on my phone it was like watching the final episode of sordid drama. When I gossiped on Whatsapp it was entertaining. It wasn’t until I spoke to my grandmother that I felt something real.

She uttered the words ‘We don’t know what is going to happen’, and my stomach dropped. I felt fear. Real gut-wrenching, bodily fear. Any thoughts of entertainment withered. For the first time during the whole election my brain and my heart connected and I had a visceral understanding of the trouble we are all in. Trump’s victory marks the first irreversible notch on the course of world history since this whole mess began. There is no more pretending.

I am scared.
I am scared, not for myself, but for the minority groups in America who are waking up this morning wondering if they should flee the country and in fear of their own safety.I am scared for the women of America, whose hopes of a female President are dashed and in its place a misogynistic pig accused of child rape.
I am scared for Muslims, abhorrently singled out by Trump and used as a scapegoat for terrorism.
I am scared for the Clinton supporters, who feel alienated from their fellow countrymen and even members of their own family. Their nation is now divided.

I was so sure Hillary was going to win and in that certainty I felt comfort. With Trump elected the future holds uncertainty, and in the unknown there is fear.

Will the saga continue next election? Trump v Kanye?

At this stage, anything is possible.