‘Old American Dream Died’: Realtor Describes How Millennials, Gen Z Struggle To Be Middle Class

"We watched what middle class was in the 80s and 90s."
Mastic, N.Y.: For Sale sign by owner sign hangs in front of a house in Mastic, New York, on January 14, 2018. (Photo by Steve Pfost/Newsday RM via Getty Images)
Steve Pfost/Newsday RM via Getty Images

A popular Florida realtor explained how hard it has become for today’s younger generation to live a middle class lifestyle, declaring that the old American dream no longer exists.

Freddie Smith, an Orlando realtor with a popular TikTok account where he posts about the financial struggles of millennials and Generation Z to his 422,000 followers, said young people need a much higher salary than their parents did to live the same lifestyle.

“A lot of us grew up middle class, and we watched what middle class was in the 80s and 90s as millennials. And nowadays, what has moved the goalpost more than anything is the housing market,” Smith told Fox News this week.

Smith explained that younger Americans trying to start their lives are often priced out of the housing market.

“I think most of us in America would define the middle class as somebody who can work a 40-hour-a-week career and can have the income to purchase the average home in America,” Smith said.

Smith said that a salary as low as $60,000 would have been enough to qualify to buy a home just a few years ago. Now though, the average house price sits around $400,000 or more, meaning people have to make about $120,000 even just to qualify and have a chance at buying a normal house.

Another issue for young people is the crippling debt many face such as student loans, which can be more than $1,000 a month.

“The millennials, they’re the pinched generation where college essentially stopped working for most. The debt piled up, and the old American dream died, and we got left holding the bag,” Smith said.

Besides higher rent costs eating up 30% or 40% of people’s incomes and student loans taking even more, having children can entail thousands a month for daycare if both parents need to work.

All of these factors make it difficult for young adults to save for a down payment on a home, qualify for a home, and even make monthly mortgage payments after they purchase one, not to mention eventually paying off their home.

Spiking inflation has also contributed to the cost of living woes, particularly for young people who are dealing with these extra expenses.

“If you are someone who bought a house before 2020 and you have it paid off or you have a 3% interest rate, you are not burdened by the housing costs like the 2024 adults are now,” Smith said.

As of September, the median home price in the country was $412,000, according to Redfin, a 2% increase over 2022.

In California, the median home price was much higher at $787,000 back in the fall.

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