"Ah, to Be 30 in 1990": Teacher Marvels at Lifestyle Her Parents Could Afford as Teachers in '90s

One woman asks how two public school teachers were able to afford a beautiful three-bedroom house on a lake. The answer is, they bought it in 1990.

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Nov. 2 2023, Published 6:02 p.m. ET

A conversation I regularly have with my own mother, who is 68, is essentially me trying to make her understand how different things are now. My mom did not finish college but instead became a legal secretary. Her work life was very much like the movie 9 to 5, right down to the satin high-collar shirts Jane Fonda's character was partial to. The world was always in need of a legal secretary, and my mother was never without a job.

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She was a single parent who owned a house in a town where the average home now costs about $550,000. When my mother purchased our home in June 1980, it cost $63,000. She actually just called as I was writing this, and had to hear me yell about how wild this is. I fully understand hoe frustrated Ally Rook feels in a TikTok where she lays out how different her parents' life was at her age. The American dream has needed a hard reboot for quite some time.

A family of four sometime in the 1940s and 1950s.
Source: Getty Images

Gee, they look swell!

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This woman wants to know how two public school teachers were able to afford a beautiful three-bedroom house on a lake.

A rightfully annoyed Ally, who goes by @allyrooker on TikTok, sits outside on what appears to be a beautiful day and proceeds to drop some harsh truths. She asks her viewers to imagine what life looks like today, in the home of two public school teachers who are also raising two children.

Have you pictured it? Can you see how they both probably have side hustles which include getting a full-time second job during the summer? Perhaps you're imagining the irrationally high cost of childcare, which prevents either of them from having any sort of savings.

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Did you forget to include a trip to the store in order to buy school supplies with their own money? Make sure you get all of that, because what you could never see is the life Ally's parents had when they were her age.

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She then pans around to reveal a gorgeous lake with a boat sitting next to a dock. Ally is so close to the water, she could hit it with a rock if she chose to. How do her parents, two retired public school teachers, afford this stunning setup? That's easy. They bought this house 30 years ago.

If you have a time machine, you can do the same! "This is where I grew up, on a lake," says Ally. By the way, that boat? It's theirs. Who knows if it's the same boat Ally grew up with, but Ally did grew up with a boat. I have friends with kids who have definitely seen a boat. Does that count?

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Screenshot of comment under public school teachers owned lake house in 1990 TikTok
Source: Unsplash; TikTok/@allyrooker (screenshot)

Late stage capitalism is a pretty good time!

To put it in perspective, Ally and her fiancé combined make what Ally's parents did when she was in high school. In other words, Ally and her husband should definitely be making more money. The math is not mathing. The economy is not economying.

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Unfortunately, Ally and her partner do not own a house. They, like so many of us, are renters and might be for the foreseeable future. The good news is Ally explained that when it rains on the outside of her apartment, it also rains on the inside. Who among us can say we have indoor rain as an amenity?

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The only emotion to feel in this moment is rage and the kind of mind-numbing envy that comes with a situation you seemingly have no control over. Ally will never get to live in that world. No one will ever get to live in that world. What makes this worse is the delusional lack of self-awareness we all have to deal with from older generations.

They really think they got everything from hard work and nothing else. Rarely will you meet a boomer who is willing to admit that perhaps life was easier for them. They could never, because that would involve bruising an already fragile ego.

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