My brother would say to this; “But life didn’t give us lemons, they were artificially bred by people. We gave ourselves lemons.”
He seems to know everything.
So there you have it, my title should be; ‘When someone in the first century AD crosses a bitter orange and citron plant, somewhere in northern India, to produce a new fruit, which is today known as a lemon..’ but that was too long. Regardless, the advice is the same – we should all go travel. You can learn things.
A number of my friends have become dissatisfied with their jobs and lives in London over the last year, and we seem to all be turning to the same antidote – travelling.
Considering the pros and cons of getting a boyfriend just so you can split the rent on a room in a nicer part of town, is not the conversation topic I thought my Friday night drinks would get to. But it does. My friends and I can talk at length about how undervalued and underappreciated we feel in our work lives, how we dream of escaping the monotonous soul-crushing commute and our mindbogglingly high rent, for pastures greener (or sandy-er). And why not? When, after 5 years of working, most of us can’t even contemplate buying a house a commutable distance from our office, what, quite frankly, is the point?
Needing a change of scene and slower pace, a later than usual gap year appears to be the answer and I think this is a growing trend among 25-30-year-olds, particularly for women.
Push/ Pull Factors
House prices and increased pressure on public services are a big push factor. Renting in London has gone up 25% in the five years I lived there, while inflation has risen 14.1%. As you might expect, salaries haven’t kept up and alongside increased utility bills and the annual train ticket hike, (and psyching up for the crush every morning) less and less of our hard earned wages are going on the glamorous London lifestyle this city promised us.
At work, Millennials have one foot out of the door – and management is left scratching their heads apparently as to why. A lack of understanding on the wants and motivations of a younger work generation might be to blame. We want companies in line with our values, where our leadership skills are developed and we are given a variety of tasks. With companies becoming less loyal to us (zero hours contracts, unpaid overtime, an ‘always on-call’ culture, the end of final salary based pension schemes) why should we be loyal to them? I agree with most of the findings in this Deloitte report from my own experiences and that of my friends, so it is good to know we aren’t alone in feeling somewhat neglected in the office, or not always managed to our full potential.
Alongside these push factors, we are also bombarded with images on social media of Instagram models, Rich Kids and various celebrities selling us a life of parties, perfect bodies and travelling bikinis. Inspirational messages tell us to “do what we love”, “take inspiration from everywhere” and “just be ourselves” – translate to ‘just be perfect all of the time.’ But we eat it up.
Looking around at our slightly grotty, exorbitantly priced, mouse-infested flats and thinking ‘I’ve made it!’ just isn’t cutting it anymore, like it did at 23. We know there is more to life – we see it on our social channels every day.
So We Travel
Out of my school friends; two live abroad already, two of us did belated gap years in 2016 and a further two have given notice and are about to buy one-way tickets out of the UK before Christmas. Another two or three are thinking of emigrating in the medium term. We can’t be the only ones.
There has been a trend, dubbed post-Brexidus, of high levels of emigration enquiries in the last few months. While I don’t think this is solely down to Brexit, (other reasons cited include house prices and congested traffic in the UK) there has been a 38% rise in applications to live in Australia and 50% increased interest in living in New Zealand.
Travel and emigration go hand in hand and both can be a big spend. But it is a spend within reach. We want authentic experiences, (to see something more than the Spanish coast for two weeks, like generations before us) and learn from other cultures. We seek out local people, take our time wandering and appreciate moments, because we are priced out of big material purchases. We want exotic, less-trodden locations and more than ever, we are happy to do it solo. There has been a huge rise in the numbers of, and mainstream acceptance of, female solo travel – which can only be a good thing.
Travel gives us perspective on our own lives (pluses and minuses), our confidence back (after the apathy we are left feeling to our employers) and a deep appreciation for things money can’t buy.
Regardless of how we got them, it seems young people have ended up with lots of lemons – from the years of wage suppression during the economic recession, to extreme hikes in tuition fees and record house prices. These factors are deep, structural and economic and mostly won’t be fixed for a long long time.
If you are sick of waiting for the housing bubble to burst or companies to put people before profits…travel might be the best remedy for urban millennial malaise.