Post 10: Reflection and Proposition
Throughout my blog research, I’ve noticed that while the statistical facts regarding housing affordability have shown a rise in housing prices and cost of living that is jumping ahead of the rise in wages, there has still been vocalisation on the attitudes of Generation Y getting in the way of achieving their home ownership goals. Assumptions, stereotypes and discussions of the psychological and emotional aspects of housing affordability describe Generation Y as not willing to work hard to achieve long term goals, preferring to spend on short term luxuries and material goods. They tend to have high expectations of their first homes, which are significantly out of reach when looking at their relatively low level of income and savings.
Due to the difficulties of entering the housing market where they are placed at a default disadvantage compared to older generations and property investors, Generation Y feel a sense of helplessness towards the situation and hence have put the housing dream on a low priority, at the same time minimising confrontation towards an issue they feel like they have no control or say over. Intergenerational differences and misunderstandings resulting in judgement and ‘if you worked as hard as I did’ comments from older generations also don’t help boost confidence in young Australians, even though there has been a definite change in lifestyle and focus.
With this contextual focus in mind, I presented to my peers a few options that I felt could be possible design interventions:
- A questionnaire that generates data on what Generation Y think of the housing situation, and how the situation makes them feel – an attempt to understand the emotional struggles of the younger generation in order to spread awareness of housing as not just a physical struggle, and possibly promote empathy in others.
- A product budget calculator that generates how many of a specific luxury item in the Generation Y lifestyle would equate to the average home loan e.g. ‘if you drink coffee once a week instead of every single day you’d save x amount and over x years you’d be able to afford a home loan’ – this can serve to remind the younger generation that a home loan isn’t an impossible saving task, to better their saving habits and splurge less, and also to raise an awareness that while Generation Y lifestyle is different to previous generations, it shouldn’t be discriminated against.
- A continuous data visualisation based on a questionnaire that asks how important home ownership is to Generation Y, and what things they would be willing to give up or not give up to save for a home – this aims to provide the younger generation with reassurance that their material-based lifestyle is okay and that there are plenty of others in that same boat, and also to redefine what a home means to the younger generation in terms of their lifestyle and promote acceptance of that different lifestyle.
On talking to peers, most people felt that the second and third concept were more developed, however they also mentioned that the third concept seemed resonate a lot more with what I focused on throughout majority of my blog posts which was empathy and understanding. The third concept also seemed to encompass elements of the first and second, and further discussion introduced a possible service design intervention through social media posting to generate more conversation and drive change in attitudes. Pitching the proposal draft to my peers gave me a bit more confidence and reassurance that I was on the right track, which is something I needed at this point.
‘What I’d Give Up’
The proposed design is a generative system with a small service design element.
It is no secret that saving up and investing for a house is a small or easy task, however in 21st century Australia the housing market has been set up by previous generations of Baby Boomers and Generation X, along with foreign buyers, property investors and tax gearing policies to reveal a very disadvantaged starting point for young Australians to enter the housing market. It should also come as no surprise that as times have changed, so has the culture and lifestyle of Generation Y Australians which shows more short-term spending on material goods and lifestyle luxuries such as holidays. Studies have also shown that the younger generation of Australians consider notions of a house past the physical aspect; it was also a medium to enhance their identity and personality and hence expectations of what a house could fulfil were also higher. This lifestyle and higher expectations of a house, combined with the unfair nature of the housing market has resulted in a lack of motivation to even try and an unwillingness to seriously confront the situation, with social media postage only including posts of a first-world-problem nature.
However in the eyes of Baby Boomers and Generation X who have gotten over the initial home ownership hurdle and are current home owners, Generation Y has been stereotyped as lazy, whiny, expecting too much and judged as not willing, wanting or capable to work hard and save up for a long term goal. While this stereotype may have developed from a superficial understanding of the younger generation, studies have shown that the housing affordability situation can end up taking a toll on mental health; young Australians aren’t exempt from this possibility with added intergenerational judgement and misunderstanding not helping the situation physically or psychologically.
The Possible Change
The housing affordability situation has shown itself to involve so many stakeholders, from small stakeholders such as individual home owners or renters to larger stakeholders such as the government body. It would take a collaborative action between all major stakeholders to direct possible large scale change in terms of the housing market and affordability issue. However Australian individuals can provide mental and emotional empathy and understanding in order to support each other, instead of bestowing judgemental which ends up putting more pressure on the younger generation and causes a likelihood for them to completely close off and ignore the issue. The lifestyle of young Australians shouldn’t be something held against them because of intergenerational differences, it should be accepted as a different lifestyle instead of seen as an excuse. If young Australians were to open up about their individual struggles and their perspective on housing expressed through a valued part of their lifestyle, they would possibly be more inclined and encouraged to face the housing issue head on.
The Design Action to Support Change
This design proposal provides the younger generation of 18 – 24 year olds a platform to express what material goods or luxuries they value in their life and what they would give up or not in order to afford a house; this generative system will seek to redefine what a house means in the language of younger Australians for other younger Australians and the older generations. It will provide reassurance through the possible variety of individual responses, promote acceptance or empathy of this changing lifestyle and also generate a more honest level of social media conversation.
Data will be collected through a simple and quick online survey, and then added to generate a compilation of individual responses which can be seen by all people visiting the website. There will also be a social media option to post up what the individual has answered and to generate more talk and activity about housing from the eyes of the young Australians.