Gowing's story told in 'Globe and Mail' - Dec. 22, 2016
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
A Belgrave woman has stirred up discussion amongst hundreds of thousands of people thanks to being featured by The Globe and Mail.
Alyssa Gowing, daughter of Paul and Jacquie Gowing of Morris-Turnberry, was featured by the newspaper on its website as a model for millennial homeownership.
Gowing is a follower of the newspaper’s Generation Y blog and has found interest in many of the stories detailing the lives of people of her generation, in their mid-20s or younger. She submitted a profile to the organization, simply attempting to provide a glimpse into her lifestyle and before she knew it she was being contacted by reporters wanting to interview her.
Gowing is in her mid-20s and, as a single woman, owns her own home in Belgrave. However, in order to do so, she needs to adhere to a strict budget including making the most out of her food and travel expenses.
The video created by Globe and Mail reporters lasts only a few minutes, but Gowing’s story has attracted hundreds of thousands of views on the newspaper’s website and she found herself on the cover of one of the Globe’s sections the following weekend.
As with any issue on social media in this day and age, Gowing has found that her life story has its fair share of fans and detractors. There are some who say she is making the best of her situation, while there are others who have referred to her existence as “sad” because she has opted to put her money towards owning a home, rather than directing income towards other, more recreational things.
In an interview with The Citizen, Gowing said she feels she doesn’t have a choice in how she lives. She knew she wanted to remain in Huron County, she knew she wanted to own a house and she’s working within her situation in order to achieve those goals. In addition, she spends plenty of time with friends and family and doesn’t consider her life sad. With a two-minute video, it’s hard to tell the whole story, she said.
Gowing first knew she wanted to tell her story after following the blog and seeing profiles of people living in cash-rich areas like Toronto and Fort McMurray. A story like hers, of a young homeowner in a rural area, wasn’t being told, so she volunteered her own.
It began with a submission where she described her situation in 20 words or less and the Globe’s journalists took immediate interest in her situation.
Breaking down Gowing’s earnings and expenses, she has very little left after paying her mortgage and property taxes and the few bills she has. However, instead of living with her parents or renting (which Gowing says is not a very viable option in Huron County, where rent would cost her nearly as much as a mortgage payment, only without the benefit of working towards ownership), she has identified owning a house as a priority in her life.
In the Globe and Mail video, it shows Gowing working towards sustainability by making dishes that will last several meals and renting out garage space in order to make some extra money.
The response, both positive and negative, she said has been overwhelming. Gowing, however, admits that she wasn’t quite anticipating negative response. In her mind, the video (and indeed her story) is hopeful and positive. It shows that there are alternatives to million-dollar condominium living in Toronto, but not everyone saw it that way.
Another story the video doesn’t exactly tell is the emotional side of homeownership for Gowing. For various reasons, she didn’t know if she would ever own her own home. The fact that she can is a definite source of pride for her, which is something that can’t be measured in a line in a budget.
For many who have watched and commented on the video, Gowing is being viewed as a bit of a poster child for “the dark side of the housing boom” but she insists that all she wanted to do was tell her story and present an alternative to the norm. She didn’t want to be used as an example of millennial homeownership or even for Huron County, although she believes it’s a great place to live.
“I did it for the right reasons. I wasn’t looking for any kind of popularity,” she said. “I know how depressing it might seem, but it’s not sad at all.”
She also says that the reason she was able to go out on a limb as she has is because of the support network she has in place. She has friends and family who, if something were to go wrong, she knows would be there for her.
To view Gowing’s video or read the article in which she’s featured, visit the Globe and Mail website at theglobeandmail.com.