20 Items That Were Considered Normal 20 Years Ago but Are a Real Luxury Now

Can you believe how much things have changed in just a couple of decades? It’s mind-blowing how what used to be totally normal back in the day is now considered the ultimate luxury.

A Reddit user asked, “What was normal 20-30 years ago but is considered a luxury now?” And we have compiled a list of the most interesting responses.

Buckle up as we take you on a nostalgic trip, exploring 20 everyday things that have gone from household items to luxury.

1. Wooden Furniture

Recycling furniture pieces and work
Image Credit: photography33 via DepositPhotos.com.

Someone said, “New furniture made out of real wood.”

Another person wrote, “I think the thing people forget is that high-quality stuff like this is still available; it’s just expensive. It’s just that back then, there wasn’t as much disposable crap available.”

Someone else added, “For real. I’m literally looking at doing a renovation job, and the majority of it is MDF crap, and I can’t find real stuff made from oak.”

Wooden furniture is definitely sturdy, but man is that stuff a pain to move!

2. Being off the Grid

couple hiking in forest
Image Credit: Maridav via DepositPhotos.com.

A Reddit user wrote, “Not being expected to be reachable 24/7.”

Another user added, “I pine for those days of peace. It’s not just work …I’m talking everybody, every day. Wife, kids, family friends…my phone is on blast constantly. No peace! On Sundays I generally “forget my phone” in my desk drawer at home. But my kids come and find me to say Aunt so-so is trying to get ahold of you, or Mom needs something.”

Someone else lamented, “This stresses me out so much, I want to just disconnect sometimes, and it feels like I can’t..”

3. Farmer’s Markets

Squash summer squash on display at the farmers market
Image Credit: Zigzag Mountain Art/Shutterstock.

A person commented, “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.”

Another person wrote, “I walk through my local farmer’s market every week. Eggs are $9 min for a dozen; Trader Joe’s is literally a block away, selling them for $3/dozen.”

While another Redditor speculated, “Lots of the sellers are just reselling grocery store products too.”

This was followed by the following confirmation, “Someone at the discount grocery store my friend works at buys bulk produce and sells them at the farmer’s market as his own for, like, 10x profit or something insane. He admits this at check out.”

4. Thrift Stores

Women shopping in thrift store.
Image Credit: Image Source Trading Ltd/Shutterstock.

Someone said, “Thrift stores. Before, they were super affordable and considered a “gross poor person thing” but now they’re trendy and vintage, so everything is much more expensive.”

Someone else added, “I was in one the other day that was selling used Target brand athletic wear (at least I think it’s a Target brand – Avia) for the same price as it goes for new.”

Another user wrote, “I just moved into a new apartment, needed a new saucepan or skillet for stir-frying. Went to the thrift store, and they wanted $15 for a used scratched-up pan… The grocery store next door had brand new ones for the same price.”

5. Food Carts

person eating large sandwich
Image Credit: LisaA85 via DepositPhotos.com.

A Redditor commented, “Food trucks…used to be good cheap fast food…and then they became boutique food carts with like 3 options, and I’m paying $15 for 4 pierogis.”

Do you think food carts, especially the ones in big cities, have become more niche and expensive? Is the culture of cheap street food dying?

6. Playing Video Games Offline

Young man playing video games
Image Credit: belchonock via DepositPhotos.com.

A Reddit user said, “Playing a video game without an internet connection.”

Someone else added, “It annoys me when your connection is shoddy and your PC boots up without connecting. All these launchers restrict playing your games because you can’t connect to the internet, and there’s no clear way to enable offline play.”

Another gaming enthusiast commented, “For some video games, now you need the internet, an email address, a credit card number, and an account with the company that made the game. It’s insane to have to do all that just to try something out. I remember when I was a kid, we had an ac adapter in my mom’s minivan, and I would plug in my ps2 and play games in the backseat on a small tv. Didn’t need anything other than the console and a game/controller.”

7. Buying a House

couple standing in front of new house
Image Credit: VAKSMANV101 via DepositPhotos.com.

One Redditor commented, “Single-income families buying a home.”

Someone else added, “A lot of double-income families struggle to own a home.”

While another user shared, “Can confirm. My husband is a real estate attorney, and I make a fairly average wage in working in healthcare. We are cautious with our money, and our only debt is student loans. We‘ve been doing research, and buying a house is nowhere on the horizon for us.”

8. Single Income Households

Upset woman in stress holds bank card and talks on phone.
Image Credit: megaflopp via DepositPhotos.com.

A Reddit user wrote, “Yes, that is totally the trend. In my grandfather’s generation, a single person could generate enough income to raise a family, send them after school, and comfortably retire. In my parents’ generation, it required two incomes to do the same thing.”

They further added, “My generation requires two incomes, but paying for your kid’s education is a pipe dream, and retiring comfortably is extremely challenging. This upcoming generation won’t be able to do it at all.”

Another user added, “30 years ago, being a dual income, even with lousy salaries, meant you were probably doing pretty damn good. I know people who worked at Walmart from the ’80s to the early 2000s and retired, bought a house, new cars, etc. Just because of two incomes.”

9. Customer Service Representatives

aggressive call center employee
Image Credit: krakenimages.com via DepositPhotos.com.

One Redditor commented, “Calling a company and getting a person on the other end of the phone.”

Someone else added, “There are companies that won’t let you even talk to a person -PERIOD- unless you pay for a service contract.”

Another person pointed out, “Ah, I forgot about this one. Even food delivery is starting to use bots. Soon the days when you can get a special item not on the menu from your favorite restaurant will be gone.”

While another Redditor wrote, “This irks me to no end. These stupid companies think their automated system is perfect and can handle everything. Some of them go so far as to guarantee you’ll never talk to a human being.”

10. Hand-Written Letters

Close up of blue Bic pencils photographed on a pure white background.
Image Credit: 4H4 PH/Shutterstock.

One user said, “Hand-written letters.”

While they may not be a luxury in the financial sense, they definitely are a lost art. The rarity of this intimate gesture thus makes it a luxury in our eyes.

As another user pointed out, “Something so personal and genuine about a handwritten mailed note, letter or card!”


11. Vacationing/Travelling

Couple on a beach
Image Credit: haveseen via DepositPhotos.com.

A Reddit user commented, “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. The best I can do is a day trip to the Dells maybe once a year.”

Another user wrote, “Yep. I remember growing up; we had regular camping trips. We even owned a trailer designed both for living and hauling toys. In the summer, we went camping at least twice, usually three or even four times. Week-long trips, generally, sometimes two. “Short” trips were still three-day affairs. We also often went to the coast for two to four days at a time and stayed in a motel.”

In the end, he stated, “Now, I can hardly afford to just take a week off, let alone spend money on a trip at the same time! And I don’t even have kids!”

12. Pork Belly

Pork Belly Burnt Ends Meat Candy.
Image Credit: Philoglesby/Shutterstock.

Someone said, “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.”

Someone else wrote, “I remember my dad always buying them from our butcher in like 5lb bags for a couple bucks because nobody wanted them, and he’d fry it like thick bacon, and that’s why I was a fat kid.”

13. Concert Tickets

Taylor Swift performs at her concert in Shanghai, China, 30 May 2014.
Image Credit: ChinaImages/DepositPhotos.com.

One Reddit user said, “Concert Ticket prices.”

Another user added, “Sure does seem like ticket prices went from $50 to $200 really fast.”

Someone else wrote, “Remember when you used to be able to go to one without auctioning a kidney? Good times.”

Another Redditor said, “I remember being 13 and able to save enough money to see bands in stadiums on the regular. Now the prices just make it not worth it.”

14. Healthcare

Doctor in corruption concept with being offered bribe.
Image Credit: Elnur/Shutterstock.

Someone said, “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.”

Someone else added, “I made the mistake of going to the ER cause I thought I was having a heart attack, turns out only my blood pressure was high. But even with Insurance, I currently owe over $7k. I made a promise to myself to never go to the Dr. again unless I am unconscious or have lost a limb, and even then, I will be hesitant.”

15. Pets

Woman playing with her dog and toy in autumn park
Image Credit: Kzenon via DepositPhotos.com.

A user left the following heartfelt comment: “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. Vets keep raising their prices to keep up with inflation, which is making it so much harder to keep up with basic care. Quality dog toys are at least $20 and often don’t last as long.”

The user further wrote, “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 flier at the vet for his health issues.”

A cat owner agreed to say, “I feel that wet cat food went from 17-18 a box to 25-27 a box, unreal.”

16. Free Driver’s Ed

man very frustrated in car.
Image Credit: olly18 via DepositPhotos.com.

Someone commented, “Free driver’s education classes taught in all high schools.”

Another person added, “I wish I had that option because I probably would’ve been able to learn earlier. I’m struggling right now, and college starts in the fall.”

Do you think basic life skills such as driver’s ed, cooking, doing taxes, and/or interviewing skills should be taught in high school?

17. Complementary Headphones and Chargers

woman happily listening to music on headphones.
Image Credit: yacobchuk1 via DepositPhotos.com.

Someone wrote, “Electronics coming with free headphones and chargers.”

*cough* looking at you Apple! *cough, cough*

In all fairness, headphones these days are far more advanced than the kind that used to be included for free, so the added price point makes sense. However, standard chargers should still be part of the deal, shouldn’t they? It’s a hassle having to buy them separately, especially after splurging on a pricey phone.

18. Being a Stay-at-Home Parent

Stressed Out Mother with two kids
Image Credit: creatista via DepositPhotos.com.

A Reddit user commented on the thread, “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 daycare because it takes two incomes to survive because wages haven’t kept up work productivity for the last 50 years.”

Another user added, “It is so sad that in most places, 2 working parents are required to barely make ends meet. I absolutely think parents should have the choice to make whether they want both people to work, but that is rarely realistic in today’s society.”

19. Sturdy Appliances

KitchenAid stand mixers on display.
Image Credit: Tinxi/Shutterstock.

Someone wrote, “Appliances that last longer than a year! My wife and I have an old mixer that passed down through my family from my great-grandmother, and that thing still works like a champ! We have a very old central AC unit that never broke down! Stuff used to be built to last!”

Is manufacturing no longer at the standard it used to be? Have you, too, had bad experiences with appliances not lasting as long?

20. Lobsters

A wood hand painted and carved sign advertising fresh Maine lobster.
Image Credit: Darryl Brooks/Shutterstock.

A Redditor pointed out, “Back in the 1800s and earlier, lobsters were the food of the peasants. And not just any peasants, we are talking like real broke people, the brokest of the broke.”

He further added, “The lobster population was so massive, they literally washed up on the beaches in the thousands. There were so many that it was literally a waste for fishermen to catch them. Eventually, people (obviously) grew to like them, and their population was subsequently annihilated by comparison, but it’s still funny to think that something that is so synonymous with wealth nowadays was considered to be a sign of extreme poverty back in the day.”

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This article was produced and syndicated by A Dime Saved.


Hi! I am a millennial mom with a passion for personal finance. I have always been “into” personal finance but got inspired to start my blog after a period of extended unemployment. That experience really changed the way I viewed my relationship with money and the importance of accessible personal finance education.