Are Mortgages Really Unaffordable Now?

Or do we all just need to work harder?

Karen Banes
4 min readMar 21


Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

There’s a generational divide when it comes to attitudes to home ownership, in the U.S. and now, increasingly, across the globe. Many millennials are complaining that they’ll never be able to afford a home, at least not in the big cities that their jobs tie them to. Boomers insist they just need to work harder (and stop ordering that avocado toast).

The youngsters hit back, often with math. If they’re spending 20 bucks a week on avocado toast, and houses in their city cost $800,000, giving up the toast means they’ll be proud house owners by the time they’re 798 years old.

The older folks point out that starter homes don’t cost $800,000 and you only need a deposit to get started. The millennials argue there are no starter homes. They’re all owned by landlords (or Real Estate Investment Trusts) that charge such extortionate rent that saving for that deposit becomes more challenging than boomers can even imagine.

The arguments go round and round, but is it really possible to buy a house as a young employee these days? Have mortgages become unaffordable on current wages? And does it depend on where you live?

The answer to the last question is a definite yes. I’ve written before, about how there are places in the U.S. where property is still affordable. It’s just that none of these places are where the well-paid jobs are, and while remote work is helping some people move to cheaper states and towns, it’s not the case for everyone. And the past few years have seen things getting even more out of hand, according to young home buyers, with houses even in rural towns often costing a million dollars or more.

Do Houses Really Cost More Than They Used To?

Many of the older generation insist they don’t, saying that sure, the median cost of a home was only $11,900 in 1960, but that was a lot of money back then. It was, of course, but it wasn’t the equivalent of $800,000 or anything close to it.

Wages have increased over the decades, as have overall living standards and household incomes in general, but all these things are not keeping pace with each other. I’ve shared these figures before, but they’re…



Karen Banes

Freelance writer & indie author sharing thoughts on life, society, creativity, and productivity.