Have fancy breakfasts or save up for a house? Smashed avocado debate divides Australians

A dish of smashed avocado on toast with poached eggs and tomatoes.
A dish of smashed avocado on toast with poached eggs and tomatoes. PHOTO: REALFOOD.TESCO.COM

Should young people spend their money on fancy breakfasts at hipster cafes or save up for a house instead?

A comment by an Australian columnist over the weekend suggesting that they do the latter has been met with online derision among millennials, and has cast the spotlight on soaring property prices in the country.

Writing in The Australian, Mr Bernard Salt's column criticising "hipster cafes" included a personal observation that he had seen young people order "smashed avocado with crumbled feta on give-grain toasted bread" at A$22 (S$23.40) a pop.

"I can afford to eat this for lunch because I am middle-aged and have raised my family. But how can young people afford to eat like this? Shouldn't they be economising by eating at home? How often are they eating out? Twenty-two dollars several times a week could go towards a deposit on a house," he added.

Social media blew up with anger over his comment, with many mocking the mathematics behind Mr Salt's supposedly unsubstantiated statement.

"@BernardSalt is right of course, just give up A$22 a week and you'll have a deposit on a median priced house in Sydney in... 175 years," tweeted Kyle Sheldrick.

The issue provoked several opinion pieces by other media outlets such as the Sydney Morning Herald, The Guardian and TVnetwork SBS.

An SBS article titled "I Stopped Eating Smashed Avocado And Now I Own A Castle" by comedian Dierdre Eidge parodied the scenario Mr Salt had envisioned, while the Guardian's Brigid Delaney penned her take on the affordability of housing in Australia.

"Brunch is the opiate of the masses. We are not going out for brunch instead of buying houses: we are brunching because we cannot afford to buy houses," she wrote.

"So what do you do when you can't afford to buy somewhere to live? Well, you decide to live."

Popular food magazine Broadsheet took the cross-generation debate a step further by collaborating with several cafes in Melbourne to launch a "home savers" special for a week.

The participating cafes are offering their avocado specials at A$10 each.