First World problems

I’m a Boomer. A Bad Boomer – because there is no other sort, according to popular rhetoric. I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I don’t feel like a bad Boomer, but I acknowledge the advantages that go with being a Boomer, and have taken advantage of the advantages. On the other hand, I quite like being labelled as ‘bad’ because I’ve never been labelled as that before. I would love to have been just a little bit bad, which I used to imagine would make me a little more interesting, and maybe even a little more exciting, but I didn’t really have ‘true bad’ in me. Now, however, I’m bad without really trying, or quite knowing how it happened. All good, though – I’ll take what I can get.

Although I don’t think I’m in the category of super-bad Boomer, I do own my own flat and also have another (mortgaged) flat as an investment property, so my soul is somewhat darkened. I didn’t plan to buy an investment property, but when my elderly neighbour died, and his son offered me his father’s flat for a very good price, it felt silly to pass up the opportunity. Being post-60, it seemed like I could use it to help me be financially comfortable when I was no longer working. Speaking of finances, the flat has sucked close to $100K out of me in repairs, maintenance, renovations, costly mistakes, and basically no feckin idea what I was doing since I bought it a couple of years ago. Most of it borrowed money. That’s a free laugh there I’m giving to the Boomer-haters.

Although the flat was shabby and hadn’t had much maintenance or upgrades done to it for years, as can be the case with elderly owners, the building report said it was basically a solid little tank (since the earthquake of 2011, insurance companies require a building report to be submitted on any potential purchases before they’ll insure). I bought it knowing that I’d eventually have it renovated, but had no idea what a giant pain in the arse being a responsible landlady for a shabby flat would be. If one is going to rent out a shabby flat, then one needs to be an arsehole landlady, and not care about repairing things that get broken or don’t work so well. That’s not me, and I got clocked pretty quickly as a soft touch. Going forward, however, a property manager will take care of things.

In the last few years, and in particular the last couple of years, the government has clamped down on renting out substandard homes. In my youth, it was normal to rent grotty flats. We didn’t really care that much because we knew that it was just a rite of passage, and we needed a place to party where a bit of damage didn’t matter too much. We mostly knew that one day when we grew up we would buy our own homes. Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t easy to achieve that, but admittedly easier than it is now. My first owned home, with my partner at the time, was an old one-bedroom cottage in one of the lower socio-economic suburbs near the sea with an outside toilet. We didn’t care – it was a stepping stone. I don’t know if a place like that could even be bought these days.

It’s much harder to buy one’s own home now, so people rent for longer, and sometimes for their whole lifetime. With this in mind, the government has introduced a lot of new regulations to ensure that rental homes are healthy, safe and liveable. This is a double-edged sword, of course, because slumlords will have to lift their game, but rents will increase alongside the improvements. Added to that is the seemingly unstoppable train of house prices in New Zealand barrelling on upwards, which also serves to increase rents. This is good news for me, of course, as those sleepless nights wondering how I was going to afford the ever-increasing cost of renovations on my rental flat will pay off. So that free laugh for the Boomer-haters will likely be a short one. Just saying.

Although I’m pleased that my investment will quickly bear fruit after the initial pain of growing it, I do understand that home-ownership is a much better way to live both personally and socially. I’m sorry that our economy, and our culture, has taken the path it has, and put home-ownership out of reach of many New Zealanders. I don’t know how that can be changed now. Long term or lifetime renting per se is not a terrible thing, and I believe that it’s the norm for many European countries, but it’s an emerging new culture here. There are birthing pains with it, and a big mistrust gap between tenants and landladies/landlords. Both sides have valid grievances.  

Most of us are just riders on the economic juggernaut, and it’s not easy to survive if we jump off it. Personally, I lean towards socialism, although I’m not averse to making money, either. I’m a mixture of a person with a social conscience, and a bad Boomer capitalist. Trying to be ‘pure’ fell by the wayside some time ago, when I realised that I was just born in the wrong era for that 🙂

Header pic by: kurtdeiner | Pixabay

10 thoughts on “First World problems

  1. The constant need for repairs and the clean-up after natural disasters have caused me to swear off home ownership, as much as I love the fun stuff, decorating and gardening. We just had a major storm sweep through Northern California, blowing 30-foot trees onto houses and cutting off power to whole neighborhoods, sometimes for days. The apartment building I live in was spared, mostly—some big tree limbs did land on a few cars and patio furniture got blown into the pool (because it’s California)—but I didn’t have to worry or lift a finger, since it’s not my property. There are the aggravations of being a renter, of course: our manager is notoriously slow at responding to repair requests and complaints, your walls have to remain the same monotonous eggshell white (no Aegean Blue for my dull, functional bathroom) and you can’t tear down the hideous vinyl blinds on all the windows. But memories of climbing on the roof to remove a ten-foot tree limb and of spraying pesticide on a hornets’ nest built right above the front door overnight remind me I don’t have it so bad. So far.

    I like young people and generally am amused by their critique of our generation. I did it to my parents, I’m sure you did it to yours. No, we are not to blame for all of the planet’s ills and I resent getting lumped in with Trumpers and climate deniers (conspiracy theorists all seem to be Generation Xers, I’ve observed), but I kind of welcome the opportunity to cross swords with the youth. I suppose having millennial kids has made me philosophical about it all. I raised them to defend their positions in an argument, and they do it pretty well, I have to admit.

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    1. Haha – yes, I blamed my parents for “ruining the world”. And
      those who blame Boomers will get blamed in their turn. Humans don’t really change their behaviours much 😊 I absolutely think that young people should argue and make their dissatisfaction with the status quo known, otherwise nothing changes in our social structures. However, we don’t have to agree with all the changes they want. Once we’ve been in this world for a while we can see that some things just won’t work. It doesn’t mean that they’ll take any notice of us, just like we didn’t our parents – lol! That’s the way of young people and it won’t change. However, if we older people didn’t argue with them over some things (but not everything, because they’re not wrong about everything) how boring would that be – haha 😊

      I do see the pros and cons of both home ownership and renting. The only thing I would say about home ownership is that one’s mortgage goes down in comparison to our earnings over our working life, whereas rents don’t.

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  2. Frances Sullivan

    What a fun read! I sort of dislike all the labels we use nowadays, though. Separates us when actually, as you say, we’re just doing what’s been done before. And just like generations before us, we’ve tossed some lovely babies out with the bathwater. Thankfully, we managed to salvage a few. As for the finger pointing, I think it’s a learned thing. Maybe if boomer-types, or the silent generation that came before, or the half-dozen generations before them had simply owned up to mistakes instead of finding scapegoats to draw and quarter, there’d eventually be no ‘bad boomers’ because everybody’d know blaming is a lose-lose game. Sigh. Oh well. Anywho, a super piece and good luck with the money pit. LOL. Fingers crossed it’ll bring you a windfall in your dotage. 🙂

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    1. Haha – yes a windfall in my dotage is exactly what I’m aiming for, although sooner would be okay, too 🙂 Yes, the money was a worry for a while there. I almost thought about shutting the flat up and leaving it unfinished and vacant. I was thinking that paying the mortgage, with no rental income, could be preferable to the escalating costs of the renovations. However, the end is in sight now, and somehow I’ve survived it 🙂

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  3. This was hilarious (except for the bummer parts).
    You bad Boomer you, owning property!? How could you? You shouldn’t be living any better than anyone else, don’t you know. Kidding of course.
    You might get a kick out of this video, a movie parody about 2020 and all the curses including murder hornets (if that bad sound quality doesn’t ruin it), but at least watch the part at 10:50 to about 11:05. Boomer hate…😂

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      1. Haha – yes good parody, thanks 😊 Looks like Boomers are getting younger – lol! Thought provoking, too, to see all those issues put together in a short clip like that. Makes it hit home more.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’d surely rather be a hated boomer than a young person of today…imagine that (wince). Single childless women, animal “enterprise” protesters and vegans (and conservative freedom lovers in my case) are used to being hated anyways, so boomer hate is sort of a treat, like icing on the cake. Loving that one.

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