Australia is fighting over how hipsters spend their money

Hey Millennials, what makes you so special?
Hey Millennials, what makes you so special?

Australia has plunged into a generational fight over avocado toast brunches.

The conflict between millennials and baby boomers started with a newspaper column that suggested young people should be saving money for mortgage deposits, rather than spending their cash on the beloved Australian breakfast dish.

"I have seen young people order smashed avocado with crumbled feta on five-grain toasted bread at $22 a pop and more," columnist Bernard Salt wrote in The Australian.

"I can afford to eat this for lunch because I am middle-aged and have raised my family," he continued. "But how can young people afford to eat like this? ... $22 several times a week could go towards a deposit on a house."

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The column has earned Salt a storm of angry responses.

Commentators pointed out that property prices in Australia have skyrocketed in recent years, and many young people can't afford to buy a home -- no matter how many avocado breakfasts they're eating.

A house in Sydney now costs 10 times the average Australian's annual income, up from four times the average annual income in 1985, the Foundation for Young Australians said in a report in June.

Young Australians face the "very real possibility that their generation will be the first to be worse off than their parents," because of youth unemployment, rising debts and soaring house prices, the group said in its report.

Millennials are paying much more for higher education than their parents -- many of whom went to school for free.

"You can take my job security, my housing affordability, and my right to free education but you will not take my smashed avo on toast," wrote a Twitter user named Lilli.

avocado fight

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Others calculated that denying themselves a smashed avocado brunch just once a week would save them enough money for a mortgage down payment in ... approximately 175 years.

Some even wrote tongue-in-cheek testimonies about giving up the trendy fruit and instantly being able to afford homes, and even castles.

"Skipped smashed avocado for breakfast this morning. Excited to buy a house next week," Tony Broderick wrote.

The topic was brought up for discussion during a meeting of the Australian parliament's economic committee. And a local bank launched an advertising campaign with the slogan, "Have your smashed avo and eat it too."

Yet there were some who agreed with Salt.

"You can live the high life in a fashionable suburb and eat out all the time if you want. But you will have thrown away your chance at ever owning a home, let alone helping your children to own one," said one comment on the column.

The debate did produce at least one tangible benefit for young people: a number of cafes in Melbourne are now reportedly offering special "home saver" discounts on smashed avocado on toast.

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