19 Everyday Things That Were Normal 30 Years Ago but Are Luxuries Now 

There are a lot of everyday items that used to be normal 30 years ago but are now luxuries. Which items are we talking about? You’ll find 19 examples of them in this article.


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Film cameras were normal 30 years ago and many families owned one. You could take pictures with them and then have them developed. Nowadays, cameras are far more expensive. Most people just take photos on their smartphones rather than spending money on an expensive camera.


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It was completely normal for most people to buy a CD of the songs they liked in the past. With the introduction of free music streaming services, most people don’t buy expensive CDs but opt for digital music subscription services such as Spotify which has “more than 602 million users.”

Pay-Per-Minute Calls

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In the past, you had to pay for every phone call you made, and call time was often charged by the minute. Even still, most households had a landline phone which they would use regularly. Nowadays, fewer people are using their landlines and some younger generations opt out of installing them altogether.


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Thirty years ago, writing letters was still a major method of communicating with others. We live in a more digital world now where people send messages instead of letters. Postage has also become more expensive and has made letter-writing a luxury that many of us cannot afford.


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Decades ago, people used to send a lot of cards. They would send cards all over the world for the holidays, birthdays, and other important occasions. But with the introduction of free e-cards and the personalization of digital cards, people are sending fewer paper cards than ever.

Higher Education

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Higher education is becoming increasingly expensive and is a luxury that many can no longer afford. The figures from Best Colleges show that “the average college tuition and fees at four-year schools in 2021–2022 was $19,806,” thousands more than you would have paid 30 years ago.


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It was completely normal to find an encyclopedia in a home 30 years ago. These books provided us with a lot of useful information. Nowadays, paper books of this size are very expensive, so most people choose to look for the information they need online.


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In the past, you would find a variety of recipe books in a family home. While some of the older generations still have recipe books, many of the younger generations do not. These books are expensive to buy, and it is cheaper to look for recipes online.


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Thirty years ago, everyone used to buy magazines. That was just a great way for us to entertain ourselves. But glossy paper magazines are expensive. Nowadays, most people catch up on celebrity news by reading it on the internet and checking social media for free.

Movie Rental

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Decades ago, most people would rent the movies they wanted to watch from video rental stores. This option is still available today, but people are more reluctant to do it as it’s pricey. Most people now use streaming services. In fact, “83% of U.S. households have at least one streaming service subscription,” says the Academy of Animated Art.


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Most cities in the past had payphones where people could pay to talk to someone. But since then, payphones have disappeared because most people have smartphones. Thanks to free calling apps and the internet, the thought of paying for a phone call seems silly to a lot of people in Gen Z.


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Housing in the city is becoming a luxury that many people can no longer afford. Thirty years ago, housing was expensive, but the prices now have become extortionate. Many families are forced to move out of the city and rent instead of buying property.


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While healthcare has definitely improved in the last 30 years, it has also become more expensive. The rising cost of healthcare is becoming a heavy burden on many families in the U.S. According to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, “the United States has one of the highest costs of healthcare in the world.”


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Childcare costs have increased greatly in the last 30 years. The great costs are leaving many families in the U.S. with very few options when it comes to taking care of their children. They need to work but can’t due to their family responsibilities. This makes them feel trapped.


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Having a piggy bank or a savings account and saving money used to be something that everyone did. However, the price of living has risen greatly in the last 30 years, and many people are living from paycheck to paycheck and are getting into more debt every day.

Good Furniture

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In the past, people used to buy good, long-lasting furniture pieces that they would hold onto for decades. Nowadays, people are always changing the styles of their homes, and cheap furniture is in fashion. Good furniture is a luxury that is out of the reach of most people.

Good-Quality Clothing

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Thirty years ago, people used to buy good-quality clothes that would last them a long time. Cheap and fast fashion has been introduced since then, and people are buying their clothes one season and throwing them away the next. Good-quality clothing has become very expensive.

Leisure Memberships

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Decades ago, having a membership at a leisure center was completely normal. You would go there to participate in sports such as dance classes or golf clubs. Since video tutorials have come out, many people are staying home and working out for free instead of paying for leisure memberships.


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It was not long ago when people used to pay for paper books. But with many books available for free online and fewer people reading books than ever before, the thought of spending money on books no longer appeals to a lot of people. They make do with the free entertainment they can find online.

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