Last month, Kirstie Allsopp—who hosts the popular British reality TV show, “Location, Location, Location”—sparked debate when she claimed that many more young people would be able to afford to buy a house if they made financial sacrifices, like foregoing Netflix, store-bought coffees or even a university degree. Allsopp insisted that “we’ve fallen into a trap of saying it’s impossible” to own property at a young age, “but there are loads of people who can do it and don’t.”
Some people agreed, arguing that they, like Allsopp, had indeed been able to buy a house, in part by making “enormous sacrifices” to do so. Others were outraged, arguing that Allsopp was completely out of touch with both the times and the average Briton: When she bought her house at the age of 21 in the early 1990s, she did it with help from her parents, at a time when an average house in the United Kingdom cost £51,000. By comparison, the average price of a house today is £270,000.
Allsopp’s comments exposed an intergenerational fault line in British society, as older and younger generations landed on either side of the debate. But Allsopp also raised some interesting questions about personal choice and sacrifices, which are becoming increasingly pertinent in the face of a looming planetary emergency.