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