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Why some young Americans want to leave

TikToker @sidneymariecarter isn’t the only one wondering if she should leave the country. Another user, @bryn.elise, went viral last year for breaking down the “new” American Dream — which, according to her, involves moving to a place where “we don’t need 2-3 jobs to survive and where health care isn’t the luxury but the norm.”

Aside from sleeping hours, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Americans spend the majority of their time at work, averaging 8.21 hours per day. You may think that just sounds like a classic 9-to-5, but this is not necessarily the norm in other countries.

According to the most recent OECD data, Americans in the workforce are the eighth most overworked out of the 38 countries in the organization — and many Americans are getting fed up with working so much and getting so little in return.

In fact, a recent survey from automaker Ford said that 52% of Americans would be willing to take a 20% pay cut for a lifestyle that better prioritizes their quality of life.

A Houston woman, Adalia Aborisade, did just that. She quit her teaching job and moved to Mexico in 2020, where she saw her salary almost cut in half. However, she claims that she now has a better quality of life because she works fewer hours and has more leisure time.

It may seem drastic to uproot to another country, but there are few affordable states left for people at the start of their careers. Although Southern and Midwestern states are currently more affordable for young people than average, commenters on Carter’s video warn her against migrating to locations such as Kentucky and Texas due to rising rent costs.

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What’s behind the madness?

Several comments on @sidneymariecarter's video blame the U.S. government for making the country an unfriendly and expensive place for young people.

There isn’t one specific reason as to why times are so hard for Gen Z. It could be student loans, stagnant wages and inflation — or a conflation of all three, among other factors.

Although the U.S. economy is currently doing well, high rent and soaring grocery prices certainly don’t make it feel that way.

As one commenter on @sidneymariecarter's video put it: “Honestly, our whole generation is struggling. [We] can’t financially afford to live in this country.”

A recent Pew Research Center study backed this thinking: according to respondents, young Americans are hitting key financial milestones at a slower rate than previous generations — such as buying a house or landing a full-time job.

As a result, more than half (65%) of parents still provide some sort of financial support to their adult children, according to a USA Today study.

But unfortunately, getting out of the U.S. doesn’t necessarily mean young adults will fare better. Pew also discovered in a 2022 survey that a median of 70% of adults in 19 countries — ranging from Japan to Australia — believed that kids will be financially worse off than their parents.

So the grass isn’t always greener. In fact, it seems like the grass is brown just about everywhere right now.


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About the Author

Sabina Wex

Sabina Wex


Sabina Wex is a writer and podcast producer in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Fast Company, CBC and more.

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