Someone Asked, “What Was Normal 20-30 Years Ago, But Is Considered A Luxury Now?” And Here Are 65 Of The Best Answers

Despite the fact that our parents love to talk about just how hard they used to have it when we stop and think, it becomes depressingly clear that a lot of commonplace things have fallen into the luxury category without almost anyone noticing. 

So one internet user wanted to hear others' thoughts, so people from all over the net shared the items and experiences that used to be downright regular and are now seen as extravagant. We also got in touch with zombiem00se, who made the original post. So read through and prepare a tissue after you weep for better times, and be sure to upvote your favorites. And don’t forget to comment your own thoughts and examples below.


Not being expected to be reachable 24/7

Image credits: Siukslinis_acc


Good quality fabric in clothing. I have clothes from the 90s (and 80s from my mother) that still hold up today. These days, I'm lucky if my shirt isn't saggy and misshapen within a year.

Image credits: TheMadLaboratorian


Farmer's markets. You used to be able to go down and get fruit and vegetables cheaper than the grocery store. Now it seems like they charge 3x more than stores do.

Image credits: jrhawk42

Bored Panda got in touch with zombiem00se and they were kind enough to answer some of our questions. We wanted to know what prompted them to make the thread in the first place. "What inspired the question was at the gas pump, and I had gotten a small bonus from work of about $50 so I knew I'd be able to just let the pump go without having to watch the meter. Then it struck me that people used to be able to do that all the time, just fill their gas tank without worry, and nowadays the normal thing to do is watch it like a hawk so you could also afford groceries for the week and wondered what else could this same mentality be applied to."

We also wanted to hear their thoughts on what was ultimately causing so many things to become unaffordable. "I think the cause is due to the same thing that's been said many times over now, the cost of living has not kept up with the rate of inflation. The rich get richer by keeping the poor poor. We were told to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, but those saying that were given boots made of nice Italian leather that was custom fit for them, while the rest of us were given bricks of lead...and the straps are rattlesnakes....very angry rattlesnakes. I'm a millennial, and with millennials, there's of course the same tired participation trophy joke, but the ones complaining about it are the ones who gave the trophies out in the first place and then blamed us for them, all the while they have everything handed to them."


Single income families buying a home

Image credits: THESSIS


getting things repaired instead of buying new.

Image credits: einRoboter


New furniture made out of real wood

Image credits: Juls7243

In general, when people stop and ask “Why are things so damned expensive now?” Current events tend to dominate the discussion. The global supply chain was hit by a jump in fuel costs, as a result of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. This pushed the price of most things up because most things are not made within walking distance of your home or nearest store. And thank goodness for that, living next to a factory or manufacturing plant seems more hassle than it would be worth. 

Regardless, the effect is that the cost of transportation went up. And since everything needs transportation, everything got more costly. And just to hit us when we are down, droughts and disease hit food supplies around the world, limiting supply. Since most of us still need to eat, a reduction in supply without a change in demand tends to mean an increase in cost. Hope this revisiting of econ 101 didn’t trigger any unhappy memories. 

That being said, inflation is starting to ease off in many places, so perhaps eggs won’t be a gourmet ingredient like truffles and lobster for long. But, as this article mentions, there are still some things that refuse to get cheaper and have gotten so expensive over the years that most people have given up ever buying them. Yes, we’re talking about housing. The simple answer is that supply hardly meets demand at all, as homeowners aren’t selling and interest rates are pretty brutal for the average worker. 


Owning the software you purchased.

Image credits: FinnofLocke


household products that didn't break within the first few years of use. My grandma had the same fridge from 1993 for a good while before deciding to swtich to a newer, bigger one 2 years ago, yes, it broke within those 2 years; my mom's wedding cookware is still going strong 25 years later, but whenever she needs new pans they start flaking teflon into the food within a few months

Image credits: parangolecomuna


Items not requiring a subscription each month

Image credits: few29er

When it comes to finding a place to live, it’s really the worst of both worlds. Housing is expensive, and renters are feeling a similar pain as landlords and ladies raise rent to offset the cost of living increases. Which, you guessed it, increases the cost of living for tenets. On average, renters can expect a 15% jump in rent costs, though this will vary aggressively from building to building and area to area. 


Legroom on an airplane

Image credits: anachronistika


Family vacations.

I remember going on road trips regularly and even flying once or twice as a kid. Now that I have kids there's no way I can afford a week-long trip to the Badlands, Grand Canyon, Disney/Universal Studios etc. Best I can do is a day trip to the Dells maybe once a year.

Image credits: M5606


Being left the f**k alone.

Buying something and just like, owning it.

Playing a video game without an internet connection.

*Not* having to provide your email address for every single f*****g thing you do.

Image credits: El_Mariachi_Vive

And of course, if you are paying more for rent (and eggs) you probably have less to save to make a down payment on a home. This has not stopped prices from continuing to rise. In 2021, the median US house was $369,800, a pretty penny. In 2022? $423,600, which is an entire 53.8 thousand more, for those curious about the math. Of course, wages have generally not risen to match inflation, so the buying power is running in the opposite direction of prices, making it harder and harder for millennials and Gen Z to ever picture owning a home. 


Leaving your family behind to start your life at 18 or even younger.

Now, folks be livin' with their parents until they're 45, saving up for 100 sq. ft. closet that costs $2000 a month in what barely passes as not a slum.



There's always something to take your attention nowadays. There's literal lifetimes of entertainment on a single streaming service. Phones. There's tons of free and cheap games that can just eat hours of your time. Social media. YouTube, etc etc etc.

20-30 years ago, if there was nothing you wanted to watch on TV, you either sat through it or found something else to do. Games had to be bought in stores, so it was more of a process buying them. Once you had them, you committed to it or bought a new game. Sometimes there was just legitimately nothing to do.

You had to get creative with your downtime. Make your own fun.


paying no more than 30% of your income in rent

And while we are on the topic of annoying expenses, many of the items here boil down to the incredibly annoying modern trend of “services and subscriptions.” Remember paying for things once? Unlike mortgages and inflation rates, in many ways, consumers only have themselves to blame for companies charging us monthly. Over the last ten years, subscription services have grown by roughly 300%, meaning that no matter how much we might dislike them, enough people will happily pay month to month.  


$1.15 average per gallon gas prices in the 90s


Being able to go out every Friday after work and being able to afford it


Getting a hand written letter

Image credits: riphitter

At the same time, people still hate it and what it stands for. Owning things, from houses to music, feels like a concept from the past. Enticed by a quick buck, or a high share price, to be accurate, many companies have dabbled with offering a subscription over a one-time fee. The result is that many actually fail and fall apart. Even the current giants, like Netflix, once a huge industry disruptor, are struggling. So maybe consider looking through your active subscriptions and cutting the ones you don’t need. 


Being able to afford having only one person working in a relationship

Image credits: depressedhousewifee


Affordable Healthcare


Ooh I love this game!

* Having a hot tub
* Having a boat
* Also: having one boat for lake fishing and another for sea fishing
* Having one working parent and one parent staying home with the kids
* A four bedroom house on a lake in the countryside
* Having a ‘game room’ or ‘play room’ in your house
* Having a bar with a pool table in your basement
* A home cooked meal every night
* Also, getting most of your veggies from the garden because one of your parents has enough free time to spend most of the day gardening
* Situations where the parents take random classes in geology or calligraphy or whatever, just to get out of the house because they’re bored and have too much time
* Every adult in the family has their own car, and sometimes one adult has a ‘project car’
* Having “shopping” or “home improvement” as a hobby. Just buying a bunch of new stuff because you can’t think of anything else to do

I grew up lower-middle class in the 90s, and we had all of these things. My dad made $28-32k depending on the year, and my mom stayed home.

The biggest difference was the sheer amount of free time everyone had.

Edit: The biggest thing I personally miss from that era was the culture of taking classes or going to school just because you want to learn something cool. One time my mom took a six month course on how to make those glass signs with neon gas, for no reason other than “because they’re cool”. Another time she learned how to weld, and there was a solid two year period where she and a bunch of her friends from the PTA took finance/economics courses at a community college just for fun. My aunt got a Masters from RISD when she was in her 60s just because she wanted to.

About a year ago I signed up for a course in auto mechanics just because I think cars are cool and wanted to know more about how they work, and the guy teaching the class was *really* weirded out and didn’t let me join because I didn’t want a career as a mechanic. This whole “education is for a job only” thing is really weird to me.


Being a stay at home mom.

I’m all for women having the option to work a career and be a mom, but I’ve met so many who hate having to drop off their babies or small children with grandma or at a daycare because it takes 2 incomes to survive because wages haven’t kept up work productivity for the last 50 years.


“It takes a village” mindset. It does take a village, but unfortunately that’s all the further people will go is telling you, they aren’t actually willing to help out. It’s always “it takes a village, you’re doing great, you got this”


Being able to dance and have a good time and not have a chance it will end up recorded and put on social media.


Ads only on TV or the newspaper or radio. Now it's ads EVERY-F*****G-WHERE. YouTube: 1 minute video. Two 15 second ads. Unskippable. Streaming service you pay for: watch promos for shows we want you to watch before you watch the show you want to watch. Music service: pay premium for no ads. Random website: ads + tracking cookies FOR ads. Social media: ad every 3-4 posts + collecting data to show you MORE ads + targeted ads. Amazon: here are some sponsored products you might like.

I'm so tired of everything revolving around ads and collecting data to show you ads that are catered to you. It's like a freaking hell loop.

Image credits: attempt5001


Going to the doctor. I’m 28 but even when I was a kid you could go to the doctor when you were sick or hurt. Now I won’t go to the doctor unless I’m dead.


Photographs on actual photographic paper. I know its still possible but oh so rare.


Concert Ticket prices


Apartments. I could get a one bedroom apartment in the state if Wisconsin back in 1997 for under $500. Now that same apartment $1800.


Avoiding people by simply not answering the landline phone, this would make the person calling assume you are just not home. We introverts no longer have this luxury with cell phones, texting, "online" status when logged into a PC so co-workers can IM you, etc.


* Games that released mostly complete (stable)
* Games that didn't have microtransactions
* Games that are not live service garbage that dies less than a year later
* Games that you unlock content/cosmetics through actually playing the game, and not by excessively grindy progression systems (to entice you to buy xp boosts - i.e. time skips) or by microtransactions


Word used to be just installed with your microsoft software. Now you have to pay each month/year.


Bulls***ting your homies on the playground. Had this revelation last week when talking to my nephew. His friend told some blatant lie I guess (9 year old) and everyone pulled out their brand new iPhones to Google his lying a*s.

Remember when someone would say something and you just believed them? Even if you didn’t, you were in for an hour long argument on how it wasn’t possible for Marilyn Manson to remove his ribs to suck his own d**k.

It is a luxury because it takes either credit or popularity to just be believed these days. S**t, I doubted half my professors just because they were old.

Image credits: Ramen_Beef_Baby


I remember as a kid, where I live they would allow people to just visit an area of the airport from where they could see the runway and flights take off - they didn’t have to pay anything for it - people would spend hours just looking at flights take off and land ❤️

EDIT: To everyone saying this is still doable in many parts of the world - that’s great, I haven’t been to those parts of the world yet and where I come from one would still need to pay a certain amount to get in and watch from a glass cabin or so. Back in the day, there would just be a gate on the airport ground, a small barricade where you could just stand for hours and nobody would bother.

Image credits: homie93


Retirement plan built-in to your job.

Image credits: SuvenPan


Electronics coming with free headphones and chargers


Free driver’s education classes taught in all high schools.

Image credits: Working-Finger3500


Working hard to put yourself through college, buy a house, and a truck.

Surviving on entry level wages


Getting prescribed opioids when you need them for pain.

'War on drugs' zealotry has created a landscape where even terminally ill patients on hospice are routinely denied the mercy of pain management because of 'addiction risk'. Acute pain patients are being told to take OTCs for severe injuries and major surgeries, and chronic pain patients are being tortured to death. Those precious few doctors with enough compassion to provide quality pain care are persecuted by drug cops at the DEA who know nothing about practicing medicine whatsoever.

It's all sickening and depressing. Every year I think it couldn't get worse, and every year I'm proven wildly wrong. And there is zero upside - the addicts who can't get scrips just switched to fentanyl and are dying in record numbers.


Groceries to last you the week, like nothing fancy or bougie, just enough food to just permit grocery shopping once a week


Canned soup. It used to be super cheap but now it’s $5/6 a can.


Friggin wings...

They had 25 cent wing nights all over the place. Not only that they were extremely cheap. A huge bag was < $10 if you wanted to smoke them. $20 was more than enough for a party where people at 20+ each.


Meals on domestic flights




Doctor coming to visit you at home when you were sick


Calling a company and getting a *person* on the other end of the phone.

*edit: Thanks for the awards kind people! I really didn't expect this to blow up like this.*


Clothing and shoes that last more than a year with regular wear


Not getting felt-up at airports.


Being able to pay your bills without being charged to make a payment, you want it on paper $2, pay at post office $3, pay using debit card 70c. It's ridiculous that we have to pay to pay.

Also getting away with doing some really dumb or embarrassing s**t, no phones anywhere to capture and upload the moment you slip on dog s**t or walk into the most beautifully cleaned glass doors that are so clean you don't see them, it's just you and those who witnessed the painfully embarrassing moment, not millions of people around the world seeing it.


8 hours of sleep per day.


Pork Belly. Used to be a bad cut of meat that was disposed of or given to the poor for dirt cheap prices. Then rich people realized that the poor made it delicious, which then caused prices to skyrocket.

Image credits: PhreedomPhighter


Attention spans lasting longer than a lightning bolt.


PC games coming with physical media, manuals, and "swag" as standard.

The maps, trinkets, toys, and sometimes even novels came with games. It made the game an event. Now people just download games and they sit unplayed in a digital library until the urge to try them comes along.


Drinking water from the tap without filters and softeners.


People making friends with one another purely because they enjoy their companionship and not because of networking


A pension you could retire on


Right now, I'm struggling just to own a dog.

Decent dog food is insanely expensive right now. Dog parks are not for every dog, but they're the only space to let your dog play if you don't have a yard or can't walk due to the pavement being too hot (providing the park has shaded areas and water access, which is hit or miss). Vets keep raising their prices to keep up with inflation, which is making it so much harder to keep up with basic care. Same with licensing. Quality dog toys are at least $20 and often don't last as long as I would like (except MonsterK9 and King Chew, very well worth it) for my heavy chewer. Grooming is costly, flea and tick protection is costly, treats are costly, everything about owning a dog is so much more than it used to be, even though canine care wasn't as quality as it is now. Heck, my first dog didn't cost this much to care for and he was a frequent flyer at the vet for his health issues


Having your own row on an aircraft.


Living without a roommate.


House ownership and being debt free.
Everyone has accepted debt as parts of their lives.


Nothing - 30 years ago the stores were empty, so even if you had money - you needed connections to get what you wanted. You needed access to the black market for dishwasher liquid. Chocolate and oranges were Christmas presents for almost every child born in the late 80s and bananas were such a luxury when they strted appearing year round people were acting like they're insane wen they saw them.

If you wanted to travel, you needed to apply for visas for literally everywhere. 30 years ago life was a horror show! Now, you don't even need a passport to travel to almost 40+ countries - just pack your s**t and go... Vacation in Greece? Start the car and you'll be on the beach in 4 hours. Venice carnival? No problem, just get the plane tickets while they're cheaper than the petrol to the airport...


Lots of people are saying owning a house but owning anything is at this point with how much subscription services are pushed.


A company-funded pension plan in the private sector.

My wife's grandmother retired from one of our local health insurance companies over 30 years ago with a full pension. She's 91 and still receives her pension, although the insurance company was acquired by a larger organization a few years back. It's a modest pension, but it allows her to live a comfortable and independent life.

Nowadays, companies only offer 401k or similar retirement plans. Outside of education/government, very few private sector companies offer pension. I'm fortunate enough to be employed by one that still does.


Being able to buy a decent standard home on one modest salary.


A single family detached house