Rent-to-own is the new black among Millennials

Millennials are doing things differently from their parents – that we know. To many of them, life should be about convenience and flexibility instead of certainty and predictability. This is fundamentally changing where they live, when they work, how they shop, and what they choose to own.

When it comes to the typical Millennial lifestyle, flexibility is key. This certainly applies to when and where they work. While earning a good salary remains important, it no longer defines fulfilment and contentment in the work-space.

Today’s young professionals born between 1982 and 2000 tend to prefer flexible office hours and the option of working remotely rather than having millions in the bank, a recent report by financial services company Pentegra shows. The data suggests that employees between the ages of 23 and 38 value flexible working hours as much as, if not more than, the size of their salaries. Some respondents said they’d even take a pay cut in exchange for being able to work remotely and in their own time.

The Millennial quest for flexibility goes beyond their careers. Various reports show that younger generations of consumers, especially those living in established economies, prefer renting than owning a home. Statistics by the Pew Research Centre reveal that 22% of American Millennials owned a house in 2017, compared to 32% of Baby Boomers.

Jonathan Hurvitz, CEO at Teljoy

The popularity of owning things, from household appliances and electronics to cars and sports equipment, is also in decline. Renting these and other products is regarded as much more attractive among younger people. This is definitely the case in South Africa.

“These days, you can rent almost anything you need and want, anywhere and at any time – from laptops, lounge sets and washing machines to gaming consoles. The advantage is that you can cancel the contract of these products whenever you want, for instance, if you are moving cities or if you no longer need the product,” says Jonathan Hurvitz, CEO of South African rent-to-own pioneer and online retailer Teljoy.

It is the easiest way to get your hands on whatever you need to live your life, without having to commit long-term. Instead of having to fork out the entire amount in one go or applying for credit to afford what you need, you are charged on a month-to-month basis, either until you have paid off the entire amount or until you cancel the contract.

Many Millennials also prefer this purchasing model because it allows them to move more easily between cities, for instance, as a result of changes on the job front. “Job-hopping is very prevalent among younger professionals,” says Hurvitz, referring to a survey by recruitment company Kelly which shows that 44% of 18- to 35-year-old South Africans have had two and three jobs since entering the workforce. One-third (29%) had between four and six jobs. “Owning nothing means you won’t have to arrange a house move if you have to relocate to another city for work.”

“Young people don’t want to be tied down, not by a job and property and definitely not by things such as washing machines and fridges,” he continues. “This doesn’t mean they don’t want to use washing machines and fridges. They do – but on their terms.”

In South Africa and elsewhere, economic factors are also driving the rent-to-own sector. “Besides a high level of convenience and feeding into a no-hassle yet comfortable lifestyle, prevailing economic volatility and job market uncertainty are also fueling this industry,” he adds. “Buying on a rent-to-own basis, after all, allows you to downsize whenever the situation warrants it. This gives you a lot of peace of mind.”

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