Demographer Bernard Salt found himself at the centre of a storm late last year when millennials failed to see the irony in his remarks about their tendency to spend money on smashed avocado instead of saving for a house.
If anything, “avogate” underscored his serious point about the growing chasm between the generations, and the haves and the have-nots in our society.
Here the KPMG futurist shares his thoughts on what lies ahead.
HOME OWNERSHIP & HIPSTERS
I do see a divided community – those who have bought into the property market and those who haven’t, for whatever reason.
I don’t think Melbourne is any different from Manhattan Island, London or Paris.
Not everyone working in New York under the age of 35 has an expectation that they will be able to buy an apartment on Manhattan Island.
In Tokyo, in London, you accept the fact you rent.
On one hand we proudly say Melbourne is a global city, but that means the price of property rises because you are competing with people with global incomes. That then relegates locals further out.
The goat’s cheese curtain is moving. Bentleigh now has one of Melbourne’s hippest cafes. I mean Centre Road, Bentleigh, that’s like east of Brighton. It might be that by 2025 the hipster zone extends to Burwood.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
It might be that 2017 is a year of consolidation, but it strikes me there is a mood for change, whether that is political, which would come in 2018-19, or whether it is social or generational.
The avocado row simply triggered the festering resentment in a generation. I think a large proportion of the population, baby boomers and me included, was not aware of the extent of the sentiment.
I am concerned we are creating a double society. The old way, the old regime, the old logic is not meeting expectations. That was evident in 2016 with Trumpism and in Brexit. We would be foolhardy to say it does not affect us here.
There is a break point coming, when baby boomers will cede authority to a new generation, whether it is X or Y. The oldest baby boomers were born in 1946, so this year they are 71. The midpoint of the generation is pushing into their 60s.
It is time for this generation to move on and we are seeing that in budgets, in calls for higher superannuation and houses to be included in taxable assets for pension allocation. Baby boomers have circled the wagons.
At some point they must give way, youth must win out and I think what lies beyond 2017 is an X and Y world.
Sea change morphed into tree change and the next iteration is e-change, where you take your job from the CBD and relocate to Daylesford or Torquay and do your job from there for at least part of the week.
Location is vital; you can’t e-change in Nhill or Dimboola, you need to be within a reasonable distance of Melbourne, but not necessarily on a daily commute.
Those cute towns in the goldfields will be talking about Melbourne e-changers into the future.
More people will go to regional centres and start their own businesses. One of the strongest themes of the past two years has been small business development.
It’s a combination of intellectual capacity being released into the market after the mining boom, and people in their late 50s and early 60s saying they are not ready to retire, and going into business for themselves.
MY TIME NOW
Bucket list thinking is driving a group I call MYTNs – My Time Now. They have paid off the mortgage, the kids have left home and they are doing Rhine River and Alaskan cruises and having their kitchens made over.
At the extreme edge of MYTN philosophy, people are re-evaluating their relationships.
I think we will see a spate of de-partnering. Increasingly that decision will be made by women who have their own superannuation and income.
It might mean travelling or bushwalking with friends, because it is more engaging than sitting at home with someone who doesn’t want to do anything.
The Next Five Years with Bernard Salt premieres on Sky News Business on February 2 at 9pm.
- 3 more ways to reduce spending once you’ve cut out smashed avo
- 24 ways to survive long haul flights with style
- Chefs’ Secrets: top places in Melbourne for a date