Godson Michel is a 26 years old Digital Marketing Specialist from North Amityville
Living as a millennial on Long Island is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, we enjoy the pleasure of being just miles away from the greatest city in the world. On the other hand, we are subject to rising costs of living with little signs of relief on the horizon.
The single biggest challenge millennials face on Long Island is being unable to purchase homes due to student loan debt and wages that have not kept up with inflation.
The burden of carrying tens of thousands of dollars in student loan can never be overstated. My peers are saddled with debt after being pushed into a higher education system no longer designed to land us salaries that match the tuition price tag. I attended both a private and public college on Long Island. By the time I left school, I ended up working in a field entirely unrelated to my studies. I’ve been paying for an education that has had zero impact on my professional career.
And I am not alone.
My contemporaries graduated with high hopes and degrees from “good” schools here. They now work as your local bartenders and servers. We feel chained to this seemingly insurmountable debt. We siphon dollars away from financially sensible items like retirement, emergency savings and mortgage down payments, and instead spend it on interest rates of unsubsidized loans.
Missing a payment results in a tanked credit score. As a result, many of my peers, even with careers, still live at home with their parents. Why? It is often simply too expensive to rent an apartment elsewhere, let alone pay a mortgage.
This problem is exacerbated by the fact that Americans 18-to 34-years-old are earning less than those of the past. To counteract that, millennials must supplement their income with gigs made possible by companies like Lyft, UberEats and Fiverr. However, these gigs do not offer the same benefits or stability of traditional jobs. After my day job I run Blue Surge, a marketing agency, for the same reason.
The exorbitant cost of houses here makes homeownership particularly difficult. While I was 23 and running my first business, I attempted to purchase a short sale home, only to have the bank raise the price of the home by $60,000 just four weeks before my closing date. I balked at the impromptu price hike and decided it would be more cost efficient to stay at home until the market prices dropped. They still haven’t yet.
Lack of access to cultural and social activities that cater to the interests of millennials of color is another problem. White millennials can frequent local bars, but those of color must travel to the boroughs due to the lack of nightclubs here.
If the challenges we face aren’t addressed head-on through strategic planning and policy, Long Island will see lost revenue and a mass exodus of millennials.
And that won’t be another thing you can blame on us.