Thursday, October 26, 2017

Mine. No – It’s Mine

There’s this sense that millennials and baby boomers are at odds with each other, but I’m not sure how real that is. Are baby boomers really standing in the way of millennials? In the workplace we may be hanging on to our jobs but millennials seem to be doing quite well when it comes to taking the reins in management positions and it’s hard to ignore their growing dominance in the worker hierarchy.

When it comes to seeking shelter, however, millennials and boomers are competing for the same kind of housing for vastly different reasons. And the situation is exacerbated by the historically low housing inventory that is typical throughout the country right now. Until the residential construction industry ramps up the inventory of 2,000 square foot and under homes, millennials and baby boomers will be jousting for the same properties.

Millennials are looking for 1,800 square foot starter homes and baby boomers are looking for 1,950 square foot downsized homes, so essentially they want the same house. Millennials seek affordability while boomers want a more compact lifestyle. Millennials make up 42% of all homebuyers and the median age millennial (33 years old) makes up 56% of this country’s first-time homebuyers. They may dominate the market by their sheer numbers, but the baby boomer has the cash from the sale of their large home, so they can often bid up the price beyond the millennial’s budget.

Out of frustration with this imbalance, millennials are either deciding to rent or looking at larger, less affordable homes where they won’t be in competition with boomers. If they are thinking of starting a family, the larger home also eliminates the need to trade up after 5 years in the starter home.

If this competition for housing seems disturbing to anyone, particularly baby boomers, let’s not forget that millennials younger than the median age of 33 are still quite likely to still be living under their parents roof because they cannot yet afford even to rent their own place. When you look at it that way, some baby boomers are just as locked out of the smaller house market as their offspring. So who is house blocking who?

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, Head Above Water which can be purchased on Amazon here.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Sushi Samurai

It was a dimly lit sushi restaurant. There were little candles on each table, but except for the candles it was dark. The sushi chef stood at attention behind the bar, flanked by one short waitress, one tall waiter, and an perpetually smiling host.

We were literally outnumbered as there were only two of us and four of them. Maybe five if there was a dishwasher in the back room. Not good odds. I eyed the door discretely, measuring how many steps it would take to make a run for it. I knew I could make it but I wasn’t sure about my companion.

Calm down. Forget about it. Enjoy the moment, right? Think positive thoughts. We came here for a good meal so why not relax and study the menu. Have some hot sake, loosen up. There was a long list of familiar sushi dishes…sashimi, nigiri, California roll, caterpillar roll. There was a nice selection of noodles, soba, udon and ramen, plus some tempting tempura and teriyaki dishes. And potsticker appetizers…everyone likes those. It all looked good. Things were turning around here.

Then my eyes drifted down to the bottom of the menu. What’s this? In large capital letters that one could not miss. It was an unmistakable warning that filled me with foreboding thoughts. NO SEPARATE CHECKS

What does that mean? Why the harsh tone? What had happened that was so dreadful that management felt the need to boldly print this admonition at the bottom of the menu? Had there been a separate check massacre? A table of six ordered 15 different dishes and then insisted on separate checks for each of them. Business was so good you could turn away customers because they insisted on having a separate check. There were only two of us in the restaurant at 6:30 p.m. What would happen if we insisted on separate checks? I had visions of sushi samurai warriors with very sharp knives coming out from behind the bar. Maybe on horseback, although I would say that would be most improbable given how small the restaurant was and how close together the tables were. Difficult to maneuver on a horse, but not impossible.

Where was I? Right, the separate checks. I decided the best course was to play along, order our food and then when the check came – not going to happen. I was not going to fight the system. The threat of samurai warriors was too great.

I wonder how they are going to react when we ask them to split the bill on 2 credit cards. There was no warning about that.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, Head Above Water which can be purchased on Amazon here.