Gen Z is defined as the generation of anyone born from the years 1996-2010, as per McKinsey & Company. This 14-year stretch of time has contained some of the most life altering events of the late-90s and 2000s; 9/11, the 2007 housing crisis, inflation, the rise of social media and the modern internet, and all the while a 20-year war silently burned in the background. For this piece, a selection of Gen Z Long Islanders were interviewed to gain an understanding on how they feel about living on Long Island in 2023.
A common complaint are the excessive real estate prices. In fact, many of the people interviewed either live with roommates or their parents.
Lamisa Ahmed, 27, of Centereach says “From groceries to housing, there is no relief for the people that make less a month than the average cost of a one bedroom apartment.”
Looking on the real estate website Zillow confirms these claims, as the rooms for rent are rarely below $1,500 and never below $1,000.
Lee LeCompte, 26, also of Centereach, voiced a similar opinion, but also spoke about the iffy public transit. “The LIRR, since they recently increased prices, should at least retire all their decades old trains, and start bringing in the newer ones.”
“Lower the cost of living, for the love of God,” said Brandon Vargas, 21, of Deer Park. “There’s barely any long-term job opportunities. The houses are never new, and the cost of it all gives me no foreseeable timeframe of when I can move out of my parents’ house comfortably.”
According to DoorLoop, a real estate website, the Long Island housing market has had a slight decrease in home prices from January 2023. But the prices are still an increase from February 2022.
“[Long Island] is crowded and the cost of living is high but I don’t think there’s any way to fix that, it’s the nature of the location.” Said Daniel Lalehzar, 24, of Melville, “We’re close to the city and there’s beaches; it’s basically a high demand area.” he continued.
When asked what she liked about living here, Malerie Brewster, 22, of Islip Terrace answered “Not much, it’s a lot of the same type of people, same type of families with the same type of income,” said Brewster. “I would like to see [Long Island] diversify a little bit, not just one area be the ‘diverse’ area,”
“Budgeting tends to favor the police, rather than after school programs and the foster care system.” Bewster said,” when asked how Long Island could be improved. “I was in the foster care system out here and it’s not the best. The group home situation is not great. There were a lot of obstacles I think could have been avoided if they had a better budget.”
Governor Kathy Hochul’s FY 2024 NYS budget, which sits at a healthy $229 billion, shows around $34.5 billion to schools. This is the highest ever given as the official state site claims. Of course these numbers don’t show how the money is divided at local levels.
This ennui is a trend among the early twenty-year-olds that were interviewed. Eli Cox, 21, of Deer park said, when asked what he thought about the current state of the island, “From my perspective it’s a boring place,” said Cox. “Unless you’re really into beaches or [doing] drugs there’s not a lot to do except go to places that aren’t Long Island.”
For residents of Deer Park, the lack of recreational space is not a new trend. “A big thing is a lack of activity. We should look at the places people go out of LI for and try to have similar or better places.” He elaborates that “casinos and malls” should be left out of the conversation, but things like “batting cages, escape rooms, and rage rooms” should be more abundant.
However, not everyone feels LI is so lifeless. Felipe Rodas, 22, of Lindenhurst expressed his approval of the resurgence of public gatherings since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Recently, everything has been getting back to normal with huge gatherings and people just out to enjoy summer.” When asked what gatherings he liked, Rodas said “the Pride event in Babylon was good, they closed the whole road off and there was food and stuff.”
But, that housing issue keeps coming up, as Rodas also expressed his dissatisfaction with the cost of living.
“My family and I have been living in an apartment since we moved to Long Island,” he said. “But there are a limited amount of houses that can accommodate people with not a lot of income.”
The youngest of the generation are 13, the oldest 27. This might lead one to think there’d be conflicting ideas on contemporary Long Island life. But funny enough, there seems to be a consensus. While Long Island is not as abundant in recreation as the city, the cost of living should reflect that.