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You are going to read a newspaper feature about young people and buying a home. For each question 31 – 36, choose the correct answer.
The Homeless Avocado-Eaters
In 2017, an Australian millionaire told young people to stop buying avocado on toast and expensive coffees. That habit, claimed Tim Gurner, was the reason why they struggled to save money for a home. His comments were repeated by population expert Bernard Salt, who said that people in their twenties should be cooking at home instead of eating out. It was also suggested that millennials – people who have reached adulthood in the early twenty-first century – were afraid of hard work, and that they sat in front of laptops doing pretend jobs.
Needless to say, there was a backlash from twenty-somethings who pointed out that the world has changed since Gurner and Salt were young. They argued that house prices have risen dramatically in the last few decades, while wages have stayed almost the same. Millennials work long hours, they said, but they can never work enough to save a deposit for a house. So who is right? Are millennials lazy and wasteful? Or is it really impossible to get a foot on the housing ladder these days?
In many countries, home ownership has halved within a generation as wages and house prices moved further apart. Britain has often been used as an example. In the 1980s, an average salary was £6,000 and a house cost £25,000. Put simply, a property was around four times a person’s annual income. Now, the average Brit earns £27,000 and can expect to spend £235,000 on a home. A quick calculation reveals that’s closer to eight times their income! In London the situation is even worse, with people being forced to spend 14 times their salary on a house.
And of course, the word ‘spend’ is not quite right. It is rare to find first-time buyers with access to those sums of money, so they are forced to borrow. They can either apply to the bank, where they may be charged high rates of interest, or if they’re lucky they can go to the Bank of Mum and Dad. On top of student loans for those who went to university, young adults can expect their lives to be characterised by debt if they want the same material advantages as their parents.
It is hardly surprising, then, that some young people choose lifestyles that appear extravagant. If buying a home is an impossible dream, why not blow your wages on luxury breakfasts, designer tee-shirts and foreign travel? To older people who tell them to worry about the future, millennials reply: our future will not be the same as yours. Technology is changing the world of work and many other aspects of our lives. Maybe, in 50 years’ time, home ownership will be a thing of the past. Maybe everyone will work online and travel constantly. Maybe accommodation will be rented for just weeks or months at a time.
Division between the generations has always existed, but the present differences seem particularly sharp. When I met Ellie Bennett, 24, a fashion blogger, and her father Tim, 51, an accountant, they admitted they often find themselves in dinner-table debates on the topic of Ellie buying a flat.
‘She won’t make a long-term plan,’ Tim sighed, looking sideways at his daughter, ‘and she won’t consider looking for a more secure job. Her mother and I have offered to lend her money, to give her a helping hand, but she –’
‘My job is perfectly secure!’ Ellie interrupted him. ‘The problem is that you don’t understand it, because it didn’t exist when you were 24. I appreciate what you and mum are trying to do for me, but if I accepted a loan I’d never be free of the debt.’ And what Ellie said next stayed with me for a long time after our interview ended. ‘For young people, buying a house is like tying a rock around your neck.’
31. The first paragraph
32. In the second paragraph, a backlash means
33. Which of these statements is true about Britain today?
34. The author suggests in paragraph four that
35. Which is the correct meaning of extravagant in paragraph five?
36. What do we learn from the interview with Ellie and Tim?