Did you know that nearly one in five Americans — nearly 70 million people nationwide — is now living in a multigenerational home? This is a household that contains family members from two or more generations. Multigenerational housing arrangements have reached their highest level since 1950. According to Pew Research, the most common type of multigenerational household consists of two adult generations, such as parents and their adult children. Three-generation households – grandparents, parents and grandchildren — are the next most common.
To address the trend, builders are offering homes better suited to more than one generation under one roof. In some cases, multigenerational properties have a separate apartment or walkout basement. In other cases, homes are designed so that there are common gathering areas but distinctly separate sleeping areas and, in some cases, more than one kitchen.
As a senior, there can be a number of reasons for living with adult children and grandchildren. For some families, it’s a way to create close bonds between grandparents and grandchildren while allowing parents in retirement to help their adult children out with child care. It could be strictly financial: Adult children may live at home even after entering the workforce in order to pay down student debt and save money. Others may move back in with mom and dad after a divorce or financial setback. In other instances, older adults may move in with their adult children when they need more assistance with daily activities. Many times, it is a combination of more than one reason.
For multigenerational housing arrangements to work, all occupants may want to consider upfront how they will divide housing costs as well as chores and other household responsibilities. Privacy is another issue that should be addressed early and often. More than half of home buyers age 55 and older surveyed by the National Association of Realtors said that they preferred a home with an in-law suite or apartment so that they had a level of privacy. Open floor plans may not work as well with a multigenerational housing arrangement, depending on how the space is configured. It’s important to make sure each adult and child living in the home feels as if they have some area of the home to call their own.
Communication is vital for the success of more than one generation living under the same roof. Regular family meetings are a must to make sure issues and concerns are addressed promptly. Would a multigenerational housing arrangement benefit your family? It might be time to start the discussion with your loved ones.