For centuries, multiple generations living in the same household was the norm. It wasn’t until the early 1950s that the United States housing landscape began to shift dramatically with a substantial decline in multigenerational living.
However, that is no longer the case.
Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that over the past three decades, the number of people living in multigenerational households increased four-fold. According to the Pew Research Center, one in five Americans—that’s 64 million people–lives in a multigenerational household with affordability topping the list of reasons why.
Americans spend about 35 percent of their monthly income on housing. Bringing two or more households together under one roof allows families to share expenses like mortgage, utilities and taxes, making housing infinitely more affordable. There are other savings, too, for example, having grandparents present to help with childcare or adult children to assist with caregiving responsibilities for older adults.
In addition to financial benefits, multigenerational living has other advantages, including building closer family bonds, improved mental and physical health, helping younger generations meet educational and training goals, and having trustworthy childcare or eldercare.
FINDING THE RIGHT SPACE
Affordability again factors in when searching for a multigenerational house. It might seem counterintuitive to think that new construction would cost less than retrofitting an existing dwelling, but that can often be the case. Having the configuration and amenities that help a family attain a comfortable and rewarding multigenerational living situation is are easier when starting out from scratch. Forward-thinking builders have already begun offering new construction homes to meet the demand for multigenerational living, with flexible, customizable options available to suit a family’s specific needs.
TOGETHER BUT SEPARATE
One of the keys to successful, harmonious multigenerational living is careful planning of a home’s spaces, with zones to accommodate different generations, offering privacy to both.
For example, having living areas for grandparents equipped with their own bathroom and kitchen on the opposite side of the house from their adult children gives each the opportunity for private space. A separate private entrance is a bonus. Other rooms, such as a dining room and family room can be shared spaces where multiple generations can gather to enjoy each other’s company and deepen family connection.
There will be a period of adjustment for families who commit to living together. It’s crucial to keep in mind that everyone has the same goal of living happily and healthily in the same dwelling.
Communication reigns supreme. This includes having discussions beforehand about how families will divide living expenses and household chores. Once everybody moves in, family members need to
continue to talk openly, honestly, and lovingly with each other about interactions and anything that bothers them about the living arrangements so that they can work together to create the harmony and closeness that is such a huge benefit of multigenerational living.