The Cost of Living vs. the Cost of Avocado Toast

$19 avocado toast: The reason millennials can’t enter the housing market
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

By SARAH SHMERLING | Managing Editor

Melbourne billionaire Tim Gurner, who at 35 years old has almost half a billion dollars to his name, told Australia’s “60 Minutes” that members of Generation Y, aka millennials, who want to get into the local housing market need to start saving money—beginning by giving up $19 avocado toast and coffee.

This philosophy is flawed. I know this personally.

1. I don’t drink coffee. 2. I’ve never spent $19 (which, according to exchange rates on June 1, is about $14 in the United States) on avocado toast.

But somehow, I still can’t afford to buy a house.

“The people that own homes today worked very, very hard for it [and] saved every dollar, did everything they could to get up the property investment ladder,” Gurner said.

We do work very hard.

In fact, I have four jobs.

Granted, three are part-time, but beyond giving up sleep entirely, I don’t have many more hours a day to put toward work.

And that’s not uncommon. Most of my friends who are living locally have collected various jobs. We freelance write. We drive for Uber. But somehow, most of us are just breaking even.

I have a small savings account built up, but that money won’t go toward a down payment on a house. It’s going straight to my next car, when my 11-plus-year-old Toyota breaks down.

According to Zillow, the median home value in Los Angeles is $626,800, the median rent price $3,500.

My boyfriend and I, both millennials, have been together for three years and we now live with roommates—other millennials who can’t afford to rent a one-bedroom.

It’s bleak out there, but it’s not because of toast and coffee.

And I’m not the only one who disagrees with Gurner’s logic.

“It’s never been harder for young and ordinary people to make a start,” lawyer, writer and Oxford scholar Jo Lennan said on the show. “The dice are not evenly loaded. They are loaded in the favor of investors.”

Though Gurner and Lennan were referencing the Australian housing market, their points translate to Los Angeles as well.

Out of my 480 Facebook friends, I can name three off the top of my head who live in the greater LA area and own the place where they live.

Natalie Gontcharova, a writer for Refinery 29, crunched some data.

“I did my own math. A serving of avocado toast costs about $8 at the coffee shop near my Brooklyn apartment,” she wrote. “If I bought it once every single day of the year, which no one does, it would cost me about $2,920. A once-a-week habit? That would bring it down to $416 a year. $988 if I were indulging in $19 toast with all the works. Not exactly a huge dent in the typical $63,000 down payment.”

She’s not going to give up avocado toast and neither am I.

I don’t even want a house. I mean, eventually, yes, but for now? I’d rather call my landlord to fix broken things than giving up my $12 Netflix subscription or $8 smoothie habit to pay for that too.