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Coffee and Avocado Toast. We Spill the Beans on Millennials and Home Ownership

When asked if he thought that young people may NEVER own a home, real estate millionaire, Tim Gurner said, "Absolutely, when you’re spending $40 a day on smashed avocados and coffees and not working. Of course."

You may have heard of this interview on Australian 60 Minutes and the subsequent the backlash from Millennials who feel offended by being called wasteful and lazy.  But the truth is that Millennials do seem to be less interested than their predecessors in buying a home.  But the truth may be a little more nuanced than avocado toast according to Kamran Rosen of NerdWallet.  

Findings are that two thirds of Millennials (born between 1981 and 1997) have not actually reached the median age of first-time home buyers so declaring their home ownership fate is premature.  The fact is polls show the desire for home ownership  among Millennials is the same as the national average.  But, unlike the rest of the population or unlike their predecessors, recent college grads are strapped with more student loan debt than ever before and they feel their earnings vs debt is too big an obstacle to overcome.  So, the reality is that Millennials either need to postpone the dream or get creative.

On the creative front, Millennials are starting to turn to alternative ways to own a home.  Last week, we looked at multigenerational living where we learned that in some instances, parents are making room for their adult children to live independently (or interdependently) under the family roof.

But another trend is emerging and that is communal living or co-housing, which is actually a reemergence of an old idea.  Though we associate communal living with the Hippies of the 1960's,  people have lived communally since time immemorial.  As Ilana E. Strauss of The Atlantic points out in her piece called The Millennial Housing, from the time of hunter/gatherers all the way up to The Golden Girls, unrelated people have found ways to live together and share the household chores and economic burden.  Today, you'll find everything from friends renting a house together to dorm-like living in Silicon Valley to intentional communities like that of Milagro Housing in Arizona.

"...Milagro Housing, isn’t all that unusual; the Fellowship for Intentional Community, an organization that champions communities "where people live together on the basis of explicit common values," lists 1,539 cohousing communities around the country, some already formed and others in the process of forming. That’s likely a low estimate, since plenty of shared-living communities aren’t reported to any national databases. While some residents hire developers to build cohousing villages from scratch, most have turned already-existing houses and apartments into shared communities." Strauss writes in her article.  

Here on the Big Island of Hawaii, people have gotten very creative in forming co-housing from existing property.  Having "out buildings" for farm workers (Woofers), is common, as is having centers for yoga retreats, sustainable living compounds, or even our famous SPACE, home of the Hiccup Circus.  And being a destination island, many home owners have carved out ways to rent parts of their property to tourists in order to supplement their income.

The Puna region of the Big Island tends to offer more opportunities for co-housing given its larger plots of land and more liberal acceptance of what is built on said land.  If you are a Millennial (or not) and are looking for a way to create a communal living situation, I can show you several great options. 

The listings below are particularly ideal because they can be purchased separately (and have their own 3 acres of land) but are built closely together and offer a lot of space in different configurations for a group to live together comfortably.  It would make an ideal destination retreat as well.

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