This “Expert” Thinks Smashed Avocados Are To Blame For The Housing Affordability Crisis

The Australian dream of owning a house is dead. Long live the smashed avocado.

We millennials are used to being blamed for our own economic woes. Parliament is overflowing with career politicians who got their education for free, own two-and-a-half properties each, and refuse to act on negative gearing. But according to some economists we’re locked out of housing not because of policy failure or because the system is rigged against us, but because we drink too many soy lattes.

But now it turns out the soy latte is in cahoots with another much-loved breakfast item. And they’re working together to undermine the savings accounts of young Australians.

According to demographer and The Australian columnist Bernard Salt, the humble “smashed avocado with crumbled feta on five-grain toasted bread” is the real barrier to property ownership for millennials.

According to Salt (Mmmmm…. salt. Goes well on a bit of smashed av) , this breakfast favourite is virtually single-handedly responsible for keeping our generation in rental servitude.

“I can afford to eat this for lunch because I am middle-aged and have raised my family”, Salt says of smashed avocado, which he apparently purchases for $22 a dish. “But how can young people afford to eat like this? Shouldn’t they be economising by eating at home? How often are they eating out? Twenty-two dollars several times a week could go towards a deposit on a house.”

So many questions! How can we afford to eat out! We haven’t raised families which is apparently now a prerequisite of ordering takeaway! How often do we do it! Poor Bernard is overwhelmed by the idea of young people eating a bit of fruit on bread and he’s having some kind of breakdown.

As people were quick to point out, the idea of linking breakfast habits to the property market is fairly silly.

But still the experts weren’t convinced. Economist Stephen Koukoulas even put the issue more bluntly. People were deliberately choosing avocados over houses, he said on Twitter.

If that sounds absurd to you, you’re right. It is completely absurd. But for some reason these well-respected economists and demographers seriously think young people are choosing to eat nice breakfasts instead of buying property. Let’s do some quick maths to demonstrate how ridiculous that proposition is.

If we take Koukoulas’ numbers at face value, the deposit for a median priced house will set you back $80,000.  Assuming you normally eat two $22 smashed avocado with feta meals a week, it will take you 35 years of giving them up before you’ve saved enough for a deposit. Chances are you’ll be retired before you even start making mortgage repayments.

Not only does this smashed avocado comparison make no sense, there’s not even any evidence to suggest young people in 2016 are spending more on food than previous generations. Check out this chart from economist Matt Cowgill:

It shows that young people are spending less on food and alcohol now than they were nearly three decades ago. But we are spending more on housing. This chart demolishes the idea that we’re being locked out of housing because of our spending habits. We’re spending less on food than our parents generation, but we’re paying more for our education and on rent. That’s why we can’t save for a house, not the fact that we like to eat avocados.

But I think there’s something much bigger going on in the psyche of young Australians. It’s a big cultural shift from previous generations. For us, the Australian dream is dead.

Many of us are so despondent about the state of the housing market and the complete failure of our politicians to do anything about it, we’ve given up on the idea of buying a home. When we’re weighing up buying a nice brunch or that second cup of coffee, we aren’t even thinking about saving for a deposit. It’s more about whether we can make rent, pay our bills, or treat ourselves to something else nice.

We’re not going to be buying a house anytime soon so why not use our leftover disposable income to have some fun instead? To paraphrase The Guardian columnist Brigid Delaney, you can pry our avocado brunches out of our cold, dead, poor hands.

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