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Talent Agencies Agency Culture

We ask junior marketers: are housing and cost of living crises hurting your career?


By Sam Anderson, Network Editor

May 25, 2023 | 7 min read

It’s not easy for junior creatives: spiraling rents and lack of housing supply in major cities; cost-of-living increases that disproportionately affect lower earners; redundancies… the list goes on. We asked five junior marketers what it’s been like.

Apartment with TV and gaming console set up

How are housing and cost of living crises affecting junior talent in the marketing industry? / Filios Sazeides

Melina Klein, junior UX consultant, True: “Like many from London in their 20s, I spent the last five years living at home. I can count on one hand how many creative friends found a career that allowed them to move out, let alone own a property. Scouring [house-share buddy-up website] Spare Room to try to find a house-share with decent travel links and space for a desk to work from home was impossible.

“Paying more than half my salary in rent for a cramped space and commuting an hour a day on the packed tube sounded crazy, so I started exploring smaller cities like Bristol. I eventually found a job and a spacious flatshare 15 minutes from Bristol’s city center – an inconceivable find in London. Having a neat space with room to work (or a quick walk to the office) compared to London living is night and day. Without the stress of commuting or working in a tiny bedroom, my productivity, motivation and creativity have really improved, without much effort at all.”

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Rachel Bykowski, marketing content writer, an agency in Chicago: “It’s important for me to live where creative diversity and artistic curiosity flourish to positively challenge my writing and perceptions of the world. It was only in 2020, when my partner and I moved in together, that we could afford a one-bedroom apartment within Chicago city limits. As a creative writer, I have been able to make ends meet with this arrangement.

“Home ownership is presenting a new challenge. My partner, a veteran, is eligible for VA benefits including a $0 down mortgage. However, many condo associations have loopholes that allow them to reject buyers that wish to put zero down – despite being approved for a bank loan. My fear is that I may not be able to have my cake and eat it too. If I want to own a home in Chicago, I might have to sacrifice my creative writing path for a more traditional position in corporate America.”

Nathan Brown, marketing executive at Reading Room: “While I am extremely grateful for the financial support and sense of security that comes with living with my parents, I have also noticed how damaging it can be for my motivation and ambition in pursuing my career goals.

“One major issue I have encountered is a sense of dependency on them. They provide a roof over my head and cover my basic living expenses, so I sometimes feel complacent and lack the drive to take risks and pursue my passions.

“I fear that many young, ambitious professionals who can’t afford to move to major cities will lose out on crucial networking opportunities, access to a wealth of resources, and most importantly, direct learning from some of the nation’s top industry talent.

“Ultimately, I think it’s important to become independent and avoid the snowball effect that complacency can bring.”

Andy Fox, web designer and developer, Treacle: “Roles that allow people both creative fulfillment and mental well-being are few and far between. Before joining Treacle, I was book-ending an already jam-packed workday with hours of commuting time. The result was decreased productivity, lower motivation, and an increased risk of burnout.

“Treacle is completely remote, and as such those long commutes are a thing of the past. That frees up more time, for both doing creative work and relaxing at home. Having this room to breathe has injected more energy into my everyday life and has reinvigorated me mentally and physically. For me, this remote and flexible approach to creative work manages to improve output and well-being in one go. It’s surely only a matter of time before most agencies and studios embrace this new way of working.”

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Pia Maehr, marketing executive, GreenJinn: “Those with housemates find that, if everyone is working from home (usually on a Friday), the connection slows and they have to make a conscious effort not to all be on calls.

“They find it better to go to the office to be more collaborative but make sure to come in when others are. That afternoon slump is somehow stronger in the office. For specific tasks (pitch calls or when needing more headspace) they find working from home a lot easier.

“Living in London means always trying to minimize costs, from walking to the office to bringing in lunch.

“For my internship, I have prioritized learning and development over money. It’s a privilege to be able to do this.”

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