‘Everything Is Expensive!’: The Challenges of Being in Your 20s in 2023

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Burnt Out and Broke

As the world burns and housing prices spiral out of control, it’s increasingly difficult to be optimistic about the future. And that shows in the data. According to an October 2022 Gallup poll, just 42% of Americans think that today’s youth are likely to have a better life than their parents — an 11-year low. 

When asked about their own challenges, 20-year-old Redditors offered similarly pessimistic answers. Here are the worst things about being in your 20s in 2023, according to Redditors.

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‘Everything Is Expensive!’

If we could boil down young adult's complaints to one comment, it would be this one: “Everything is expensive! If you work hard, companies reward you with more work instead of a raise or promotion.” That sentiment shows up throughout the thread, with the majority of Redditors spotlighting the tension between a young adult worker’s salary and the cost of living in the U.S.

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Expectations Are Unrealistic

“The media makes it look like you should have everything figured out in your 20s,” one Redditor argues. The reality, other commenters say, is that many young Americans are just trying to make rent and pay their bills.

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The Pandemic-Inflation Combo Is Brutal

Just as they were graduating college or entering the workforce, young Americans were hit with a one-two punch: a world-historical pandemic and the worst inflation since the early 1980s. Not only have both affected the economy, but Redditors in their 20s also say that the pandemic robbed them of their most formative years. “The pandemic ripped away so much of your coming of age,” one commenter writes.

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You’re Too Young For Stability

Your 20s are transitional. As one Redditor writes, you’re both an adult and not an adult at the same time — stuck between two stages of life. Or, as another commenter puts it, “Too young to have been able to get a decent house or well paying, stable job. Just the right age to feel the full effect of recession, climate change, and the post-pandemic.”

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‘Owning Property Seems Impossible’

Housing prices are exorbitant in this country — and they’ve been consistently getting worse since the 2008 financial crisis. That has 20-somethings wondering if they’ll ever own a home, with one Redditor writing that buying a home “seems impossible.” Even Redditors who have a solid foundation — like one married couple that has “solid jobs and college degrees” — say that it will take as long as a decade to save up for a down payment.

Related: More Than 1 in 4 Homeowners Are 'House Poor' — These 10 Cities Have the Most

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Social Security Is ‘Threadbare’

An older Redditor who grew up in the Netherlands says that they would have never survived their childhood or their 20s had they grown up in our current world. Social security, they explain, is “threadbare now,” likely referring to government programs in general rather than the retirement program. But that, too, is in jeopardy, with the Social Securities Trustees report finding that the benefit will start to run out in 2034.

Related: How to Get the Most Out of Social Security